interview | Berghof Fluoroplastics

Six questions to Jonas Nicoll

April 4, 2019

Even as a teenager, Jonas Nicoll became interested in plastic high-tech solutions: He had already been fascinated by the versatile areas of application of the material PTFE and its unique properties as a holiday jobber in the production section of today's Berghof Fluoroplastics. This fascination influenced his further school and career development. Today, after a dual course of study in Business Administration at Berghof, he combines his business skills and his technical interest with each other as Head of Sales & Marketing of this business division - and, with his enthusiasm and know-how, is convincing more and more customers of the advantages of this unique material.

1. You already manufactured Berghof PTFE products as a holiday jobber during your schooldays. Do you find this an advantage for your current work?

Absolutely. I often find this practical experience very valuable in talks with our customers and interested parties because it helps me not only to explain the competencies of Berghof Fluoroplastics theoretically but also to quickly relate our varied possibilities in production with the respective requirement of the customer. This knowledge also helps me to coordinate projects internally with our technical departments such as Development and Production to this day. I also worked side by side with many of the members of our production team during that time. That is, of course, an optimum basis for clarifying issues rapidly - out on a run together during the lunch break for example.

2. After school, you decided to take a dual course of study in Economics at the Berghof Group. Was that a good decision?

Definitely. Mainly because the close relation to practice enabled me to put the study content immediately into work practice. We were deployed at many different stations in our different business units in the course of studying - and therefore gained valuable insights of the entire company group. So, in my opinion, the dual course of study at Berghof was a very good basis for successfully working here later. The intensive exchange of knowledge with each other within our group has always been very important so that all sections benefit from each other - expressed by our common motif "Your Innovation Hub". A good example of the success of this idea is the close cooperation between the divisions Laboratory Technology and Fluoroplastics.

3. Key word cooperation: Berghof Fluoroplastics products are often used as components in a complete system - for example as a venting membrane in degassing units for high-voltage batteries. What does that mean for your work?

We consciously chose the route of maximum specialization. That is what our customers admire about us - an experienced and focused development partner on which they can totally rely. Today, we are well-known for innovative PTFE solutions which offer our customers important advantages - all in top-class quality thanks to state-of-the-art production methods. However, in order to integrate these products optimally in an overall concept such as the degassing unit mentioned above, we deal with the project as a whole and cooperate very closely with our customers on a partnership basis. After all, a technical solution is only really good when it not only works perfectly but can also be produced intelligently and therefore at optimum costs. Here too, we have built up extensive know-how and valuable partnerships over the years, for example, with specialists for certain production technologies - true to our "Innovation Hub" idea.

4. PTFE as material has been around for 80 years, Berghof Fluoroplastics has been working with this material for more than 50 years. Isn't this subject long exhausted?

I am quite certain: This subject will never be exhausted. We are constantly facing new tasks that we have never had before. That's why we are always telling new members of the team: No need to worry about monotony - you will never get bored with us. The new production building that we opened in 2017 gives our experienced team more than ever the possibility to show again and again just how versatile the areas of applications for PTFE are. Our experience also shows: Every problem that is solved successfully on the basis of PTFE, such as the cooperation with the NASA, leads to new projects. Because many of our customers are so satisfied with the cooperation that they are happy to recommend us further. This has enabled us, for example, to almost double the percentage of products from our porous PTFE material Permeaflon® from 2006 until today - and continuing to rise strongly. Internationally too, with a current export rate of 26 per cent to countries outside the EU, we still have a lot of potential for further growth which we will achieve together with strategic partners all over the world. There is no end to the ideas for innovative material solutions from our materials.

5. You have already mentioned the versatility of PTFE. That is why you and the entire Berghof Fluoroplastics team are dealing with many different industries. What helps you personally to cope with this challenge?

Back in my days as a holiday jobber, we had a lot of fun puzzling things out and pondering about the production processes. And I am completely in my element when it comes to getting down to the bottom of a new problem quickly and comprehensively with my colleagues in the team. I am also a fan of open communication. I therefore enjoy making new contacts at trade fairs, adapting to new customers and tasks and asking directly about "pain points". These two issues are probably the main reason why I rise to the challenge again and again, because I simply enjoy it.

6. Speaking of rising to the challenge: Are you a person who enjoys competing, even in your free time?

Yes, as a private person I am also ambitious. I fought in karate competitions very intensively for many years. Today, it is more the boards that mean the world for me. After my karate career, I started skateboarding. Now, I spend every spare minute in summer with wakeboarding. And, suitable to that, in winter I am often out on my snowboard. But it's more the togetherness than the competition that counts for me today. I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the scene, the common fun of trying out new tricks and mastering new downhill runs. That's where the circle closes when I come to think of it: Because constantly facing new challenges successfully - that is also what appeals to me in my job.