Expert Statement: Thorsten Harke President, Harke Group
Prospects for the Chemical Distribution Industry
The chemical distribution business is a diverse industry that provides customized solutions for important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, paints & coatings, agriculture, cosmetics, food & feed, and automotive. At the center of the supply chains of these sectors, distributors are critical partners for global corporations as well as for SMEs. This role has become particularly obvious and relevant during the corona crisis. But distributors also face many challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic and the current political and economic environment.
CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their views on the prospects for the chemical distribution sector. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:
- What, in your opinion, are the most important lessons learned after two years of operating in a pandemic environment?
- What will be the most important short- and long-term challenges facing the sector?
- How do chemical distributors support the chemical industry on its path toward carbon neutrality?
Thorsten Harke: Over the past two years, in an environment marked by a pandemic and more recently increasing geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the chemical distribution industry has proven its important role in the supply chain by buffering and evening out supply chain disruptions, thus helping its partners avoid the most catastrophic outcomes.
We achieved this through early order planning, safety stocks, early booking of logistics capacities, and our broad, international network, through which we were regularly able to help out our customers with emergency quantities that were “squeezed out” from our long-standing international partners.
“The chemical distribution industry has proven its
important role in the supply chain.”
In addition to digitalization and online distribution, which we are meeting with a sophisticated IT infrastructure and our newly launched and completely reworked online shop and marketplace harke.com, one of the major challenges facing chemical distribution is the ever-increasing amount, complexity and cost of regulations. These range from further expanding REACh regulations, over the Green New Deal with among others upcoming CO2 tariffs up to new supply chain laws. We assigned highly qualified and trained personnel to these topics in order to keep up to date with and duly execute the vast amounts of ever-changing regulations.
As chemical distributor and hence as “transaction cost specialist,” we nevertheless achieve keeping costs for the supply chain as low as possible, also for sales and logistics costs. By combining a large range of products from different suppliers in an intelligent and optimized way, our efforts do not only translate in cost savings, but also in considerable savings of CO2-emissions for the chemical industry.
By being able to open markets worldwide quickly for innovative leaders through our established networks, we furthermore contribute to the faster introduction of innovative, sustainable “green” products with lower carbon footprint to our customers, another important contribution to lower CO2 emissions.