Beko’s U.S. headquarters in Bolingbrook, Ill.
By Alan Wolf, YSN
This October marks Zach Elkin’s first year at the helm as President of Beko U.S.
He was certainly well-prepared for the job: A 26-year industry veteran, Elkin variously led LG’s Signature Kitchen Suite program in the U.S.; helped reposition BSH’s ultra-premium Thermador and Gaggenau brands; and earned his retail bones at Sears.
At Beko, a BrandSource vendor partner, he is directing the company’s continued expansion in North America with record sales and award-winning product. The 66-year-old appliance brand — a stablemate of Arçelik’s premium Blomberg line — had already established a world-wide reputation for producing technically advanced, environmentally friendly kitchen and laundry products with sleek, contemporary designs, and is cited as the leading white-goods badge in Europe.
YourSource News caught up with Elkin on the eve of this week’s BrandSource Convention, where the company has set up shop. He shares his thoughts on the U.S. marketplace, supply-chain challenges, product innovation, and Beko’s partnership with BrandSource in an exclusive interview, below.
Beko business continues to grow exponentially as we continue to expand our selective distribution network and develop a reputation as a manufacturing trade partner that is reliable, easy to do business with and focused on our independent dealers and customers.
How has Beko U.S. managed the worldwide supply chain interruptions?
The global Beko/Arçelik leadership has done a terrific job keeping our internal team safe while taking the necessary steps to ensure that we can be a reliable business partner for U.S. dealers. Last fall we added a fourth shift so that we could safely maintain our supply chain. The additional 1,200 factory personnel that we brought on board, coupled with our 22 global factories, have allowed us to maintain a strong in-stock position.
How much longer will U.S. consumer demand for home appliances continue at the current breakneck pace?
Robert August, whom I consider the modern godfather of homebuilding in the USA, stated in a recent article that we are currently short 3.8 million homes in America. In my opinion, it will take us at least five years to catch up, based on U.S. builders’ production capability. Today, most custom builders are telling home buyers that they will have to wait at least 24 months due to their backlog.
When you add in the remote workforce and the doubling or tripling of home appliance usage today, you would logically conclude that the replacement cycle will clearly be shortened — and pre-pandemic the industry had 72,000 appliances failing every day! It’s anybody’s guess on what the new adjusted number will be, as we believe that hybrid working is here to stay.
Last but not least, Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, stated in a recent NKBA update that remodels are up 78 percent; and I don’t see remodeling slowing down over the next 18 to 24 months.
What new products and innovations is Beko U.S. bringing to market this year?
We are launching our new platform of luxury dishwashers … wait for it … at luxury price points! Dealers will get a sneak peek at this this week’s show. Our parent company Arçelik has over 3,000 patents, and our new platform of dishwashers is a terrific example of how we bring innovation, superior performance, design, and sustainability to the U.S. market. We simply can’t wait to preview these units with Beko partners at the Convention.
What role does the independent dealer channel — and BrandSource in particular — play in Beko’s go-to-market strategy?
The independent dealer is the backbone, the heart and soul, of our distribution strategy for Beko in the USA! BrandSource has been and continues to be a terrific advocate and a key component of our go-to-market and we greatly value our relationship and business partnership.
What are Beko’s/Arçelik’s long-term plans for the U.S. market?
Today Beko is a global manufacturer with over 32,000 team members. We produce over 15 percent of all dishwashers worldwide and have 22 factories, as I mentioned earlier. We believe we can and will command the same market share in the USA as we do in Europe.
Our plan is to continue to grow our presence with key independent retail partners as we expand and build out our distribution network; staff and launch our builder division; expand our logistics network [with additional distribution centers]; and refine and expand Beko’s assortment in cooking, cooling and clean-up.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.