We had the fortunate opportunity to sit-down, and talk with a very busy Mr. Han, about his work, as he guides Danpal Korea to a bright future.
Mr. Han is a multitalented individual, who is not only the president of Danpal Korea, but who is also the V.P of the Korea Institute of Architects, and amongst other titles, is an alternate member of the UNESCO-UIA Co-Committee of World Capital of Architecture.
1. Please tell us a little bit more about you and your background?
I am Young-keun Han, the president of Danpal Korea, a commissioner of Presidential Commission on Architecture Policy Republic of Korea, the vice president of Korea Institute of Architects, an alternative member of UNESCO-UIA Co-Committee of World Capital of Architecture and a commissioner of Architecture Commission of Seoul City. I am also an architect and university professor. I have experience in designing buildings and architecture ever since I finished my study of architect in France. During that time, I was able to experience architect and engineering industry for about 20 years and came across to know about Danpalon and its applications as aesthetically flexible building materials having great potential.
2. How did you originally get involved with DANPAL?
While I was in France, I had a chance to design a house for the Bayer France’s chairman and he was very satisfied with the design and outcome. As a result, I became his architectural consultant. From the Bayer’s raw material annual forum, I came to know of Danpalon which uses the Bayer’s Makrolon as the main ingredient. And after that, I have witnessed the design, application, and maintenance of the Bayer group’s Danpalon project. I was marveled at Danpalon as a building material and led me to start my business with Danpal in Korea.
3. Can you tell us more about how you have developed DANPAL Korea, into a successful supplier of architectural solutions (moving away from simple panels)?
As an architect, I have discussed a lot about building structures and materials with my fellow architects. In the early days in Korea, about 15 years ago, polycarbonate panels were not widely used as building envelopes. But I brought these fantastic materials at the moment when architects were seeking and desire of new materials. And I tried to apply Danpalon to well-designed building projects so that they could perform as my showcase.
Based on the high-quality product as Danpalon, I provided skilled engineering to support better applications. Most of all, I have tended to think that I am contributing to the new culture for architecture in Korea, rather than just selling panels for profits.
4. What challenges in supplying our systems for projects, do you continually face in Korea, and how have you overcome them?
Although Danpalon is known as high-end imported material, it is more expensive than four other competitors. In addition to that, products from China are not only cheaper but quicker to be delivered as they close to Korea.
The next issue is the Korean building regulations. Danpal products are globally used but that doesn’t mean they perfectly meet all Korean regulation. Especially, the standard for fire resistance and insulation is getting more and more intensified, and reducing the gap to meet the requirements is not fast enough.
To solve these issues, we approach each case differently and try to identify the client’s desire in early-stage whether he wants superior products or only cares of price so that we know where to put our efforts. We also try to secure more stock available in order to meet the desired delivery time. We understand well that this is not a perfect solution and Danpal products are order-made, therefore, the production requires more time. But we also hope more support from Danpal to find better and more effective ways to reduce delivery time.
For the regulations, we can hardly imagine how the regulations will be in the future. But now the best we can do is to suggest the applicable design of the products complying with the new regulation to our clients.
5. What sort of strategies have you used to overcome local competitors, especially those, who sell on price?
Danpal Korea offers solutions. With my employees’ knowledge and experience in engineering and architecture, and understanding of the Korean market, Danpal Korea provides not only products but Total Service. This means that from the design stage, Danpal Korea works with our clients until their projects end. And even after the projects we go on and check if our clients are satisfied with their results. I believe this could make clients favour our solution over the price.
6. What do you feel are the key advantages that a DANPAL solution offers, over other more established options in the market?
I think Danpal products are genuinely made by the market-leading company Danpal whereas other similar building material companies imitate and follow the trend created by Danpal. This gives significant differences for product superiority when it comes to application. With the experience and knowledge, Danpal has, Danpal solutions are built for high functioning that actually works. This is because Danpal products are continuously being evolved and get perfected by Danpal’s R&D, which makes other competitors hard to follow.
7. How important is it to provide high-level specification for each project, in order to secure supply, and how do go about this process?
Suggesting on Danpal’s specification is the first step in the process to develop projects.
In that, we need to address our solution’s functionality, efficiency, and as well as economic value to people who design, inspect, and manage projects and people who work on sites. Normally they don’t work in a group all together, so even though we convince the designer or architect, that doesn’t mean that we secured the project. We have to go through and met each stakeholder to be satisfied.
Since Danpal Korea is not a big company that has enough manpower, we have difficulties reaching out to every single one and its satisfaction. But we try to use every available resource as possible. For example, in order to get more information and supports, I use my network in architectural associations that I’m affiliated to.
And more importantly, we let our clients correctly understand the traits of our products and performance, so that we can build mutual trust with our clients and be recognized as a credible and healthy partner.
8. What future do you see for DANPAL in Korea, and how are you gearing up for these changes?
Danpal solutions may not be a substitute for all kinds of building materials for sure. And they are not ordinary materials or ubiquitous applied to everywhere, at least, in Korea so that its market is not as big as other ordinary materials like glass. But I believe its uniqueness can find the niche, and when Danpal solutions are required, there can be hardly ever substituted due to strength and durability compared to lightness and variety of color options.
So far, 85% of our projects are Façade and we have only 15% of roofing projects but we are now expanding to roofing and interior projects. For our future, what I want to do is to combine Danpalon and solar panels for clients who want solar energy. This will increase more marketable area. I am sure that Danpal solutions’ original functionality and technology to enhance energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products can be the answer for not only Danpal Korea but also for Global Danpal.
9. Can you tell us about a project that you are most proud of, and which DANPAL system you ended up using?
The most memorable project to me is Soongeui Arena Park Stadium using Danpal Roofing System. The project required 34.4 meter long panels, the longest panels ever used for our projects. In order to install these long panels inclined, the structure became very complicated. With the help of Danpal, we were able to save structural costs from total expenses. This was because Danpal and Danpal Korea are not just panel sellers but we find and provide the solution and service together.
10. What advice can you provide to our other global partners, on the steps you have taken, to grow the DANPAL brand in, your market?
I often say this but because of its importance, I will repeat it. We are not selling just products and panels. Because our products are not consumer products that can be immediately used as they are, just selling cannot be done without putting extra effort to support clients. Therefore, it is very important to have the experts and qualified manpower to provide engineering services and great marketing as well.
Our products are designed, tailored, and installed, and this process takes some time until projects finished. And the notion that I obtained in this business is to remind people that we are offering them solutions to solve their problems. With the high-quality Danpal’s solutions and the efforts to provide service, there will be a bright future and your success.