The Vice President of CLESTRA Asia tells us how the company remains a pioneer and leader in office system partitions 100 years on.
November 29th, 2013
Visitors to offices and public spaces in Hong Kong may not be aware of CLESTRA’s presence in these buildings, but the truth is, the company’s partition systems are featured in many notable projects in the city.
As CLESTRA celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, Paul Levy, Vice President of CLESTRA Asia speaks about the success of the company here in Hong Kong and around the region, and tells us how the company continues to grow its leadership position across the globe.
Can you describe your role as Managing Director of CLESTRA?
My role is to make sure that ideas flow from our Tokyo office to our Singapore office, and that we maintain our CLESTRA ‘can do’ spirit as a pioneer manufacturer and contractor with a passion for what we do for and with our customers.
How did you end up working for CLESTRA?
It’s been 22 years! I was in Paris at that time and wanted to work overseas. One of my good university friends told me that CLESTRA Hauserman had opportunities for young graduates. I applied and got a job with CLESTRA in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was not exactly where I was expecting to go, but I really enjoyed my two years there.
Tell us about the work culture at CLESTRA and what it’s been like working for the company.
A customer focused attitude with Un je ne sais quoi (a quality that is hard to pinpoint) – between the determination of the American pioneers to push forward and the French flair for fashion creation.
One hundred years after its inception, CLESTRA remains a leader and pioneer of partition systems. What in your view has been the primary driver of its success?
Innovation and being people focused. [Our founder] Hauserman had a revolutionary idea that inspired a change in management practices and use of space. Today, 100 years later, we still give life to space by moving walls and transforming them without destroying nature. Sustainability is in our DNA.
How important is the Hong Kong and China market for CLESTRA?
Our Hong Kong office was set up 20 years ago. Here, we felt at home with the city dynamism and its active office market. Hong Kong today is for us an example of what we would like to achieve in all of China’s other large cities. With our China factory in Taicang, we expect in the coming years to capture this growing and demanding market.
Which has been one of CLESTRA’s most significant projects to date in Hong Kong/China and why?
In terms of size, the most significant project in Hong Kong has been the Police headquarters in Wan Chai with 80,000sqm of double skin acoustic ceiling and 30,000sqm of partitions. This was a huge project with around 200 containers of material delivered from our South Korean factory and an average of 100 fitters working on site for one year in 2003. I had only been in Hong Kong for two years and I was already impressed by the efficiency of the CLESTRA Hong Kong team.
In China, our biggest project was Beijing Parkview Green, which was fitted with 60,000sqm of our chilled ceiling Equalios. Beijing Parkview Green is the first LEED Platinum building in China! It’s an awesome building that inaugurates this year.
What are some of the recent milestone innovations of the company?
In the last three years, we have developed a system for new energy saving concepts. For example, a specific ceiling and thermal containment partitions for a data centre that we have already used in several projects in South Korea. In fact, we recently obtained a patent for this new system.
Another of our newest partition systems is Metropoline 1 with a slim line design and an outstanding acoustic performance up to 50 db for solid partition and 47 db in double glass. We are also testing a new glass sliding door system in our factory, which will be a real revolution for meeting rooms.
What have been CLESTRA’s most successful product rollouts to date? And why do you think these products have been so successful?
Harmonie P61 and more recently PleinAir.
Harmonie P61 was developed in the eighties in Cleveland, Ohio and there are still customers in Europe and South Korea that continue using these products and do not want to change. The idea was simple: a monobloc steel solid panel with a post cap junction so easy to install that office layout changes were a piece of cake.
pleinAir for sure for its frameless elegance and its recess channel that gives a magic floating effect to our product: superb!
What are some global trends that are having an important impact on product development at CLESTRA?
We are following with interest the recent workplace solution research: all suggest that open space concept went too far and prevents efficient collaboration. After years of banning walls from offices the pendulum is shifting back and organisations are rediscovering the benefit of walls to insure focus and creation: verticality is the premium.
Are there market sectors that CLESTRA is keen to put more focus on moving forward?
We are particularly interested in further developing the hospital/healthcare and education market sectors. Our product range for those sectors are already well perceived in the Middle East and we believe we can obtain similar success in Hong Kong/China.
CLESTRA is taking a key role in Hong Kong Indesign: The Event as Gold Sponsor, and will be using the opportunity to celebrate its 100th birthday with the Hong Kong industry.
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