Industry Leaders Forum: Mick Askew, Sales Director Professional, Kärcher Australia

Kärcher remains at the forefront of innovation, dedicating up to 6 per cent of its global revenue to developing inventive, groundbreaking products.

How was 2023 for Kärcher?

In the eventful year of 2023, Kärcher Oceania demonstrated its resilience amidst significant market shifts. While the professional sector sustained its momentum, the retail channel faced challenges due to a softening consumer market.

Undeterred by these dynamics, Kärcher Oceania forged ahead with substantial investments in the professional service organization. We have expanded our Kärcher service fleet by 31 additional service vehicles, complementing an already robust network of regional service partners.

One standout achievement was the strategic investment in Kärcher Centers. The opening of a new location in Hoppers Crossing, Victoria, will showcase the innovative Kärcher-owned Cleanpark concept.

This state-of-the-art facility will not only offer automatic car washes and manual carwash bays but will also feature a dog wash and a superbay catering to larger vehicles, including caravans. By introducing this concept we will effectively meet the demands of consumers in and around this key location.

In addition to this, we also celebrated thriving relationships with international and local key accounts, marked by successful large-scale national and local machine rollouts that occurred throughout the year of 2023.

How does Kärcher plan to innovate to meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers?

Kärcher remains at the forefront of innovation, dedicating up to 6 per cent of its global revenue to developing inventive, groundbreaking products. Within the Kärcher Cleaning Essentials Battery Power+ range, a particular focus lies on innovative items that cater to the needs of both professionals and consumers, for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Excitingly, the company is on the verge of introducing a revolutionary pressure washer accessory that boosts cleaning efficiencies by an impressive 50 per cent. This emphasis on accessories demonstrates our commitment to providing users with tools that not only meet but exceed their expectations in terms of effectiveness and convenience.

In the realm of floor care, Kärcher’s ambitions for 2024 are exciting as we move into the next generation of floor cleaning and plan to unveil advanced floor cleaning machines. These machines are not only expected to elevate cleaning efficiency but also prioritise robustness to meet the increasing demand for durable and high-performance equipment.

What do you expect to be the big trends of 2024?

Sustainable cleaning practices continue to be a focus as the world becomes increasingly aware of environmental issues, sustainable cleaning practices take the forefront, with a growing demand for ecologically friendly solutions.

Since 2021, Kärcher’s 20 factories across 7 countries have proudly achieved CO2 neutrality, with a focus on sustainable production that optimises all product packaging and utilises up to 50 per cent recycled plastics for selected devices. Through our progressive and innovative approach to sustainability, we strive to offer customers solutions that effortlessly combine effectiveness and sustainability.

Smart Cleaning Technology is ever evolving from the rise of robotic cleaning equipment to the ever-expanding array of products available, smart cleaning technology has transcended its role in commercial applications.

This revolution has transformed the way we approach cleaning tasks, making them more effortless, efficient, and effective than ever before. Kärcher’s devotion to innovation has driven the development of smart cleaning technology, where the possibilities are limitless and the results unparalleled. The integration of technology into cleaning processes, such as robotic cleaning equipment continues to evolve with more and more products available in this space both domestic and commercial applications.

Are there any key sustainability commitments Kärcher has made for 2024?

We have three pillars in our sustainability strategy 2025: Zero Emissions; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Social Hero.

To further our environmental impact, we are introducing recyclable packaging, revolutionising the industry with our dedication to minimising waste. Additionally, we engineer durable products that not only deliver exceptional performance but also have a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

But our dedication to making a difference doesn’t stop there. We believe in the power of community and are actively engaged in social and environmental initiatives. Under our cultural cleans program, we support and preserve the heritage of local communities across the globe, ensuring their legacy continues to shine. Furthermore, our environmental clean-up days are an opportunity for us to act, actively participating in rejuvenating and restoring our planet.

What is your leadership philosophy?

Leadership, in my view, embodies qualities such as loyalty, courage, and respect for every individual. As a leader, I find it essential to maintain loyalty, both to my own principles and to the well-being of my team. I aim to empower the team to make bold decisions, creating a culture where initiatives are implemented with a “fail fast” mentality, allowing us to swiftly learn and move on from setbacks. Leading by example, clear communication, and demonstrating a strong work ethic are essential components of my approach, as I believe these traits are fundamental to achieving effectiveness in my leadership role.

My objective is to motivate my team to grow and excel in a rapidly evolving business environment. I aim to assist them by providing inspiration and demonstrating the significance of giving their best effort. My goal is to lead and guide them, encouraging the fulfillment of their utmost potential. I aspire to be a reliable figure for them to approach with any problems or concerns they may have.

Do you have a message for the industry?

As an industry, there is a collective opportunity for us to collaborate more closely on matters that contribute to the common good. A notable illustration of this collaboration is Thank Your Cleaner Day, an annual occasion dedicated to appreciating all cleaners. Thank Your Cleaner Day is scheduled for October 16, 2024, and I encourage everyone to actively participate, extend appreciation to our cleaners, and enhance the visibility and recognition of the industry.

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