”We have a philosophy that says everything we supply needs to be proper. And we need to treat each other properly.”
Service, quality, and propriety. There are several reasons why Geopal System A/S today is among the leading specialists in gas detection throughout Denmark. Such is the assessment from CEO Christian Møller. And he completely disagrees with those believing you need to switch workplaces every five years to keep developing your competences.
When CEO Christian Møller is asked to pinpoint one primary reason for the growth Geopal System A/S has experienced in the past years, the first word that comes to mind is service.
“It is one of those areas where we really make an effort. Gas alarm systems need to function every second of every day, and our customers depend on our ability to step in immediately. We cover Denmark better than anyone, and we can arrive at the customer’s quickly.”
And service – the direct dialog with the customers and the will to do your best – has been a core value for the Danish-owned company since Christian Møller in 2002 took the reins at Geopal System A/S.
Saw a bigger potential
It was not etched in stone that Geopal System A/S was to develop in that particular direction when Christian Møller along with a partner took over the company from Georg Jørgensen. At this time, the gas detection manufacturer was a somewhat small business that was located at the owner’s address in Ballerup, just northwest of Copenhagen. But Christian Møller, who originally has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, saw a bigger potential.
The headquarters was moved to Vedbæk, north of Copenhagen, and a new strategy was implemented.
”Already then I was able to see that the market for safety equipment was a growing market. And my vision was that Geopal should keep up with that development”, he says.
The need for gas alarm systems is rising. And today most business sectors, from industrial, energy, and marine to construction and pharmaceutical companies, have alarms installed where employees are at risk of working in rooms with dangerous air from gasses and fumes.
It is at power plants as well as biogas and wastewater treatment plants that a need exists for constant surveillance of dangerous or explosive gasses from sludge drying and biogas. Fishing boats where containers, engine rooms, and gas canisters with hermetically sealed storage rooms have an increased risk of a concentration of noxious gasses or a lack of oxygen. It is underground parking garages, construction sites, laboratories, and places of education where employees, students, and teachers must be guaranteed a safe indoor climate without dangerous gasses.
The list is long.
Drove the service car himself
The security of an alarm system is that it is never out of order. And that is why one of the first things Christian Møller decided to expand was the service element. In fact, the CEO himself started out driving to customers two days a week.
“I learned a lot in that time. I have worked with all the products, so I know what they can do and how they work, and I also got to know our customers really well,” says Christian Møller.
Many of the customers that were at the company 17 years ago are still there. And many new ones have arrived. Today, Geopal System A/S has 20 employees and the largest service department in gas detection throughout Denmark with vehicles driving all over the country.
The service cars are specially designed so the technician already has access to all the spare parts and test gasses. There is a very special reason for that.
”We honor our agreements. If we make a mistake, we correct it.
We do not shirk our responsibilities.”
“Nine times out of ten, we can solve the problems right then and there. That is a good experience for our customers. But it also makes sense for us. By investing in the quality of the service element, we save time and resources not having to drive back and forth," says Christian Møller.
And it is not only when something is malfunctioning that quick and flexible service is an advantage. Thorough, regular checkups reduce the risk of false alarms and operational issues – issues that often become expensive for the end user.
Today, Christian Møller has left the service cars with the employees and devoted himself to the continued development of the company. But even though the service department runs smoothly today and is indeed the largest in Denmark, it is not uncommon that the developer team accompanies the service cars now and then.
“It is very good for our developers that they also experience how the products are used by the customers. And it is generally a value here that we have a close relationship with our customers. That we meet them, know them, and know what is at stake for them,” says Christian Møller.
Keeping focus on the ambition to become the best
But it is not only service that has had Christian Møller’s focus. The quality of the individual gas detector that is developed and assembled at the main office in Vedbæk is just as important. When you adjust your focus and attend to every detail, you become the best. And that is the ambition Christian Møller has chosen for the development department at Geopal System A/S.
“Our strength is that we only deal in gas alarm systems. Of course we develop alarms for many different kinds of gasses. But we are specialists within this field, which is why we do not venture into all sorts of other things,” says Christian Møller and emphasizes that often when a company attempts to spread itself over too many different products, the quality drops.
Products from Geopal System A/S are among others approved by DBI, the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, and are ATEX/EX/IECEx certified by TÜV.
“Our products are well-known for being at a high-quality level,” says Christian Møller.
The detectors are assembled, developed, and calibrated at the headquarters in Vedbæk or directly at the end user’s. And there is a close dialog between developers, service, sales, and management.
“We have short chains of command. If anyone needs something special or a product requires certain adjustments, we can take care of it. It is not far from thought to action. We sit together. That allows us to find solutions quickly,” says Christian Møller.
Export and growth
The clear focus on a specialization of knowledge and certifications in gas alarm systems has meant a broad and persistent group of customers.
Geopal System A/S has customers in the pharmaceutical and cooling industries. Gas alarm systems are installed in underground parking garages and tunnels as well as a number of power plants and biogas and wastewater treatment plants. Geopal System A/S also has a number of customers in the marine industry. For example, one of the world’s largest fishing trawlers, the Navigator, has a Geopal detector on board to ensure the safety of the personnel.
The wide array of customers distributed over different industries is an advantageous position, assesses Christian Møller.
“We saw it during the financial crisis which we traversed without any significant decline in turnover. It has definitely proven to be a strength for us that we reach into many industries,” he says.
And the growth is not only in Denmark. Today, the export element takes up 40 percent of the production, for instance to countries like South Korea, and if Christian Møller has anything to say in the matter, it will further increase in the coming years.
“We are developing a new detector – an EX approved stand-alone detector that will also receive a SIL 2 certificate which is a standard for how certain it is that it will not malfunction. It is new and opens up new opportunities. With the systems we develop, we will aim for high-end markets in the future,” he says.
Should you develop or dismantle?
Internally, too, not only ambitions – but demands – exist regarding development and growth. Christian Møller holds on to his employees. There is a will to invest in their development, and he sees experience and long relations as clear advantages.
“I completely disagree with those that say you should only remain in the same workplace for no more than a handful of years in order to maintain your development. In our industry, it is about gaining knowledge of details. It takes a long time to acquire an adequate amount of knowledge when you work within such a small, specialized area,” says Christian Møller and mentions the relations with the customers as an important cornerstone of the long employments.
“The knowledge regarding Geopal’s customers becomes better and safer over the years. When the same employees deal with the same businesses, you avoid errors and futility.”
And while many new employees have arrived over the past 17 years, few have chosen to move on.
“We want growth, and we want to grow. It is fun to be somewhere that is developing and growing. If you do not have development, you will end up dismantling. That is the same as coming to a standstill,” says Christian Møller and adds:
“We have a philosophy that says we need to treat each other properly. And that what we supply needs to be proper. We honor our agreements. If we make a mistake, we correct it. We do not shirk our responsibilities.”