REHAUREHAU’s Building Solutions division prides itself on providing quality products and services.

By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing

After 70 years, REHAU has the expertise to deliver exceptional plumbing and radiant heating and cooling products. Not only does the company employ staff members who have been with it up to three decades; it also draws on long-standing customers and resources such as universities to provide its industry-leading solutions.

“We are closely connected to our colleagues in different regions,” Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications Corrie Neukirchner says. “People are what makes REHAU stand out.”Rehau info box

REHAU, which is based in Muri bei Bern, Switzerland, specializes in polymer-based products for clients in multiple industries, including automotive and construction. Founder Helmut Wagner started the company in the Bavarian town of Rehau in 1948 with only three employees and one extruder.

His vision, Neukirchner explains, was to innovate different industries with advanced, engineered plastic components. He initially began in the automotive sector. He then moved on to construction, extruding the first PVC window profile, and then in 1968, pioneering cross-linked polyethylene (PEXa) pipe, the technology currently used in heating, cooling, plumbing and geothermal applications.

Today, “We have five divisions,” she says, noting that company’s Automotive division works with OEMs, such as Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and General Motors. “We provide bumpers and interior parts like hoses.”

Its Industrial Solutions division works with firms such as General Electric and Whirlpool, while its Furniture Solutions division serves clients such as Herman Miller and Steelcase. “[We provide] the edging to match the laminate surfaces of furniture and cabinetry,” Neukirchner says.

REHAU’s Window Solutions division provides uPVC profiles to window manufacturers, while its Building Solutions division supplies PEXa piping systems to distributors who serve end users. However, “That doesn’t mean we don’t work directly with contractors and installers,” she notes.

REHAU’s Building Solutions division places a strong value on its relationships with those clients. “It’s very important that our customers – whether they’re direct or indirect – still value the personal service we offer,” Neukirchner says.

This can range from product support during installation to its dedicated training programs that help customers excel. “When it comes to building products and solutions, creating these partnerships with the different channel partners has made us successful,” she says.

Locked and Leading

REHAU stands as one of the leading companies in its market when it comes to radiant heating and cooling and plumbing applications, Neukirchner says. Its latest innovations include the EVERLOC+ compression-sleeve fitting system that helps make PEXa piping connections four times more secure.

“It’s the only one of its kind,” she says, adding that it differs from other cold expansion systems. “With our fitting system, the pipe is expanded, then the sleeve is actively compressed over the pipe and fitting. The connection is immediately secure and ready for pressure testing.”

Neukirchner notes that this was built on the foundation of its predecessor product, EVERLOC. “It’s considered a very safe system that allows our customers and contractors not to worry about the connection,” she explains. 

Project Pride

The Building Solutions division has several projects that bring it pride, including the University of Chicago’s Campus North Residential Commons, a 400,000-square-foot facility. The college set an energy saving target for the building, which uses REHAU’s in-slab hydronic radiant heating and cooling system for its student living quarters.

The system circulates heated or chilled water through 5/8-inch PEXa pipe installed in the ceilings, keeping the spaces at even and controlled temperatures while using less energy than forced-air systems. “We contributed to a 40 percent reduction in CO2 emissions,” Neukirchner says. “That’s something that goes in line with our position and what REHAU stands for.”

She also highlights the company’s work on the Sweetwater Spectrum community in Sonoma, Calif., which is a residential community for adults with autism. The community’s design incorporates sustainable elements that also reflect the goal of minimizing sensory overload for its residents.

“People with autism tend to be very sensitive to noise and external stimulants,” Neukirchner explains. “When we were working on this project, it was very important to the operators that this be a quiet and comfortable environment.”

With this goal, the project incorporated radiant heating and cooling systems from REHAU, with multiple zones of RAUPEX cross-linked PEXa pipe for optimal temperature control. It also included the company’s INSULPEX pre-insulated PEXa piping for distributing heated and chilled fluid from two air-to-water heat pumps installed in the homes and community center.

Radiant systems, she notes, have reduced noise compared to regular forced air systems, which turn on when the air hits a certain temperature. For a person with autism, “The load can be very disturbing,” Neukirchner says. “With radiant heating, you don’t have that.

“When the system is operating, it’s super quiet,” she continues. “It’s not even noticeable for most people.”

Driven by Values

REHAU has grown to employ approximately 20,000 people worldwide, but Neukirchner says the company maintains the feel of a smaller, family-owned firm. “We’re still driven by family values,” she says.

This has nurtured loyalty from REHAU’s staff, which includes several who have more than 30 years with the company. It also has created a culture of teamwork at the company that stretches across the divisions, she notes.

“It is really that family/team approach,” Neukirchner says. “Whether it’s in North America or South America or even Europe, there’s a lot of cooperation between the different regions.”

She sees a strong future for REHAU, which has constantly reinvested in itself while maintaining its focus on providing sustainable and service-oriented solutions. “I don’t see this changing as we’re in the digital age,” she says.

Instead, REHAU will offer new technologies and solutions that are more integrated and provide more ease of use to end users. “We’re feeling we need to go above and beyond to help our customers cater to the end-consumer,” she concludes. 

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