Gerhard Hundsberger has additional responsibilities at Truma that will take him around the world.
Hundsberger, who has been leading the Germany-based company’s North American operations for more than 10 years, has now been tasked with expanding Truma’s presence for all global markets outside of Europe, including China and Australia.
With those responsibilities comes a new title, of course. Currently the President and CEO of Truma Corp., headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., Hundsberger is now also the Director of Sales and Markets Overseas for Truma Gerätetechnik GmbH & Co.KG.
While that will likely mean more travel, of course, Hundsberger assures RVBusiness he will still be based in Elkhart and remain heavily involved with continuing Truma’s growth in North America.
“Basically, it goes back to headquarters in Germany,” Hundsberger explained. “Truma believes that we can grow in our overseas markets. We have shown tremendous growth in North America. We have established throughout China a decade ago. We have a partnership, a joint venture, in Australia. And Truma really believes that these are the regions for Truma to grow in the future. As you know, we have a huge market share in the European market, so there’s not so much to win new business opportunities, there – but they are in those overseas markets.”
So, as part of several other organizational changes, Truma tapped Hundsberger to lead its international expansion efforts outside of Europe. And there’s more to it than a simple statement of purpose, he added.
“It’s not just like, ‘I want to grow in America. I want to grow in China. And now let’s go and let’s do it.’ You need to look at products, you need product portfolio, you need investments, you need certifications,” Hundsberger said. “So, in order to do all that, you need to make your headquarters more international and have a more international thinking. That’s why some positions have been moved around.
“What we also decided is that from the European perspective, we want to organize the sales in two teams,” he continued. “There’s going to be a European sales team, which is completely focused on Europe, including the UK. A long-term colleague of mine, Eduard Schrall, will be responsible for the entire sales in that region.
“And as for myself, that’s the position of director sales and markets overseas. That includes basically everything outside of the European market — obviously the U.S. and Canada, but also the Asia-Pacific region, which is China, Australia, New Zealand. And we do a little business in Japan and South Korea. Those are the major two areas, and those are going to be my responsibilities.”
Turning the focus back onto North America, Hundersberger said he was pleased with Truma’s performance at the recent Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa. The company once again had an outside booth display on the main path leading to and from the ultra-luxury RV building, and he and his team were kept busy by many passersby throughout the five-day show.
“Obviously, the show is not a selling show for us. We don’t go there to sell anything outside of our service technicians. They do service and they install air conditioners now, and furnaces and water heaters in the aftermarket. Otherwise, we don’t really sell components to the visitors. So it’s a lot of education there. And we had a good feeling about the amount of people being there. We were only 5% down – and I think that’s mostly because of the weather, in my opinion. It’s not because of less interest or anything. It’s really because the weather wasn’t great this year. I think some people just decided not to go.”
One of the products Truma displayed at Tampa was a gas-fueled heating system for Class B and C motorhomes, as well as the Saphir, an under-bench air conditioner with electric heating capability that has already been part of the company’s European offerings since 2006. Recently, the Saphir has been approved for North American applications, Hundersberger said.
“Frequently, we have those conversations with some manufacturers and they’d say, ‘we would like to get the air conditioner off the roof,’” he said of the 110-volt unit for heat and cold air. “Yes, it is a niche market product. I don’t see this as a product for the mass market and for the majority of RVs. But, for smaller RVs and for manufacturers who really would like to get an air conditioner off the roof – and for those who actually use a popup tent on the roof on the Class B’s where you don’t have space for an air conditioner – this can be a great solution.”
The company’s product development for North America is a reflection of its long-term outlook for this market, he said.
“We keep investing into this market and bring innovative solutions to North America. We are still in a very good position in regards to growth,” Hundsberger said. “Obviously, this year was difficult for us as well. But, overall, we were able to gain market share this year. So, as a benchmark, that shows that we continue to grow and that we continue to win market share, which is great, and that keeps us investing into the market and bring new solutions.”