What is your unique and specific plan to capture new business?
At MAPEI, our mantra is to be our “customer’s supplier of choice”. We work very hard to create strong business relationships based on trust and listen very closely to our customers’ needs, continuously refining our value proposition to help our customers’ grow their business independent of the business climate. Our unique combination of staying power, the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable portfolio of products and services coupled with the support of the tireless efforts of our team keep MAPEI and our customers on the growth path.

What is the message you want to send to industry? 
I am humbled by this question as our voice is only one of many in this large industry. I do want to encourage our customers that these challenging times will pass. Now is the time to make the difficult decision necessary to get the business back on a sustainable footing by reducing complexity and getting back to basics, preparing processes and teams for the coming upswing.

What is your current perspective on the business climate? 
Our economy is in a difficult spot for the moment as many different factors have combined to push us into recession. As unusual as the current environment is, the many negative factors that have come together simultaneously will not continue for the long-term either. While we will have several months more of negative momentum and news to digest, there are indicators which are beginning to trend in the right direction. Fuel price decreases are an enormous cash injection into our economy and a significant reduction of our trade deficit. The strengthening dollar allows our import dependent economy to reduce its input costs significantly, decreasing our inflationary risks and making national production more competitive. Our demographics are positive in that both the population and family formations are still growing. It will take several years for us to reach the activity level seen in 2005; although, I suspect that we will reach it on a more sustainable footing without the asset bubble.

How will 2009 unfold for your company – and our industry?
MAPEI has a diversified business portfolio and a very strong technology platform. In some cases our market share is smaller than in others. We are launching entire new product lines and specific product innovations in existing lines. We continue to invest in our plants to further improve efficiencies and produce new technologies. While it is difficult to predict the market’s activity level, we fully expect to continue our growth path in 2009. I do expect further contraction in our industry in 2009, particularly in the first half.

What are the strides you are making in the crucial area of environmental responsibility?
MAPEI has been dedicated to sustainability for decades. Our concern for the environment is part of our DNA and considered in every action we take.  We call our perspective on environmental responsibility the “Four Ps”. We ensure that our products, plants, processes and people all act together to ensure environmentally sound activities.  To this end, 70% of our R&D investment is dedicated to research on environmentally sustainable systems, whereas the other 30% is fundamental research based on understanding basic physical and chemical interactions.  In fact, we are so proud of our work that we are certifying our plants under the stringent ISO 14001 requirements.  Plus, our new facilities are built in accordance with the USGBC LEED certification requirements.

-- Rainer Blair, MAPEI