KLH

Saturday 6 June 2009, by Juan Carlos Álvarez, Marta Ferrer, Mireia Huget

5 inspired

Main facts KHL activities

We find in the words sustainability, simplicity, reliability and rapidity of assembly the definition of KLH panels.
KLH is used as a substitute of the usual materials of construction (bricks, cement…) which are not sustainable, simple nor fast to mount.
Money is not the main goal here, because a house of KLH has approximately the same price as a brick house, but a KLH house is a long term investment, traditional houses has a lower life expectancy (brick becomes cracked, wood not) than KLH ones.
Despite the difficulty of making people change their view on the traditional construction materials, KLH is being expanded and its aim is to further expand the markets in Europe and to develop new international markets in order to instill enthusiasm in them.

Ethical challenges

First of all, it is important to mention that the utilization of timber as a building material has the ability to store large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere. So, apart from respecting the environment when producing, they contribute to the improvement of the air quality. Substituting a cubic meter of wood for other building materials can save almost two tones of CO2 (Source: Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management). Consequently, when designers decide to built with timber framed construction, they are making a positive contribution to tackling climate change.
They guarantee its products with the PEFC certificate. It ensures that the raw material used come from sustainable managed forests: it can be proved that every day the amount of trees that grow is higher than the amount extracted. Besides, the adhesive used in the gluing process is solvent-free and formaldehyde-free.
On the other hand, the company also focuses part of its ethical challenges on the relation with its workers. They define it as "high tech, but not without high touch". KLH tries to conceive employees as important opportunities for the development of the firm and, that is why, it invests money on training programs addressed to make them use their skills in an improved way. Furthermore, the company is completely flexible and open minded with the initiatives of its workers and bets to cultivate their sense of responsibility.

Reasons for trusting KHL and its ethics

Of course, many companies have attempted to build products that respect the environment but KHL is one of the few which have been able to cope with the money factor. Usually we relate environmental-care with high costs and that really creates a dilemma for many businessmen and consumers. This is of course another reason to trust KHL as they are making a affordable product based on ecological basis.
Timber framed buildings are often referred to as “lightweight construction”, but the truth is that like a skeleton in our body, it is a precision engineered structure that is remarkably strong and durable”. There is no reason to be prejudiced about this old-fashioned concept, because the company follows accurately a monitored production subject to permanent internal and external quality surveillance to guarantee the quality of its products.
KHL is a company that cares about the environmen. That can be seen in their internal policies. Workers are the whole point of the firm. KHL worries about the skills and the “emotions” of their employees giving them room for creativity, motivation, safety, initiative and responsibility.
To make a step further, it is important to point out the fact that the own corporation recognizes the negative aspects of building with wood, that is the fact that it is a fuel material or that it attracts many mosquitoes…
When looking at the website, KLH seems to predict our criticisms and answers them beforehand. Even after stated the cons of their product it gives us immediate answers (for example: that the wood is used with the lowest humidity level which avoids the risks mentioned previously) and finds opportunities by explaining that wood is a temperature-insulating material and that its construction is faster than a traditional one. So, we can say that the company follows the ethical path.

Possible improvements and KHL future challenges

KLH can be very creative, according to market needs and desires, to create added values (apart from the environmental one). And in this way, improve business.
Many people are suspicious about using timber panels because they feel this construction is light weighted and weak. Changing people’s minds is so difficult, but it would be easier if we could teach new generations of architecture students about these new building techniques.
A very important and possible point that KLH may face is how to convince clients that being environmentally friendly is also an added value. KLH could create a campaign to encourage people to be environmentally friendly and to give them the opportunity to help. An example of this initiative can be the campaign that UK has made “Wood for good” in order to promote wood’s role in construction.
Another challenge is that people may not believe all the environmental benefits that KLH affirms. KLH may improve by getting together with recognized and trusted environmental NGOs and with government environmental agencies; to show them the benefits of KLH’s panels and convince them to support KLH.
KLH has found a creative opportunity to act ethically, contribute to the environment and do successful business.

Bibliography

1. die.modulfabrik (wo. d.). Recover on May 29, 2009 from http://www.diemodulfabrik.at/en/
2. KLH Kreuzlagenholz (wo.d.) Principal. Recover on May 27, 2009, from http://klh.at/index.php?id=161&L=5
3. KLH Massivholz GmbH (2007) Perfil de la empresa y Datos orientativos. Austria
4. TRADA Timber Research and Development Association (2008) TRADA... all about timber. Recover on May 30, 2009, from http://www.trada.co.uk/
5. UK Timber Frame Association (wo.d.). Recover on May 27, 2009, from http://www.timber-frame.org/ 6. Wood for good (wo.d.). Recover on May 29, 2009 from http://www.woodforgood.com/

Location: Frojach (Austria, Katsch)

Sector: cross-laminated timber, ecological construction elements

Official website: http://www.klh.at

Key figures:

KLH is a young company that is growing and expanding. In 2005, only six years after its opening, it had already double production capacity. KLH’s spinal cord consists of a permanent team of 16 people. Additionally, KLH has worked with numerous architects and engineers.

KLH aims to expand the markets in Europe and develop new international markets. KLH has a sales organization which now includes 24 countries. This proves the company’s great expansion. Besides United Arab Emirates, the other 23 countries are European countries. Nevertheless, we should not be surprised if, in few years, KLH expands its activities around the world to other continents.

KLH has also founded subsidiaries. The first one is die.modulfabrik who manufactures solid wood modules. The others are KLH solid wood Scandinavia AB, and KLH UK Limited which work together with the mother company.

Due to all this KLH is the leader of the European market in producing cross laminated solid timber. KLH is a relatively young company, who has expanded a lot from its beginning and continues in its expansion phase.

Number of employees: aprox. 110
Annual business sum: 24 million euros
Percentage of exports: 60%

Nbr. visits: 192

Nbr. inspires: 5