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In the Hot Seat - Michel ljzerman, UK sales Coulisse

Michel ljzerman, UK sales Coulisse, answers Blinds & Shutters’ questions on the issue of threats to the industry he is wary of people being focussed on achieving the lowest price for each product, and ultimately bringing the market for all down

Michel Ijzerman

1. What got you started in this industry?
By accident. After my studies in 1987 I responded to an ad from Allpac who were market leaders at the time for ready made blinds in Europe. I started as export manager assistant for Austria and Switzerland, then moved on to do sales for them in other countries.

2. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I guess as years pass by, more and more I seem to make decisions like my father used to make them. His company were market leaders in Europe for Sports Floors. At home it was all about business. I never worked for him apart from the holiday jobs, as I thought at the time his ideas were too old fashioned and I knew whatever I would do it would never be good enough. Now I know the basics were passed on to me without realizing it at the time.

3. What are your customers looking for from Coulisse?
We help our customers to create image with challenging new products. Further, they are happy to see we carry large stock of our components and fabrics. This way we make it easy to start new concepts as we have a fast service of all products. We also help in many cases creating catalogues for our customers using our well known photography.

4. What do you feel was the company’s big breakthrough?
 The change from being a trading company to becoming a manufacturer and creator of systems/ concepts and fabrics.

5. What do you feel is the greatest threat to the industry today?
People focussed on the lowest price they can get for each and every product, without seeing their suppliers as partners. It will bring the industry down and will be difficult to create a market together.

6. Where does your company draw inspiration from for its products? 
We work closely together with well known designers in various industries. Chris (Christiaan Roetgering, Coulisse’s owner) himself is a fanatic in sourcing by travelling, seeing and reading and has the best feeling for design. Further we have created our own inspiration centre where new ideas can be discussed.

7. What advice would you give someone entering the industry today? 
It would sound too arrogant to give advice on how to do things, however the most important lesson I learnt along the way is to act my best in any situation I could be myself and to follow my feelings. Make sure you have others around you who are better than you in those areas you know are not your strongest.

8. How has the industry changed over the years?  
The world market has become easily accessible to everyone and as a result has become very competitive in certain areas, but also it made it possible to open up for new ideas. Where blinds have been in the past subject to local trends and solutions to keep the light and sun out, more and more you now see blinds becoming an alternative in global design and fashion.

9. If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be? 
Of course we strongly believe the way we present ourselves is a part of our success. I can only hope more and more the industry will move up in presentation and lift the industry to a higher level.

10. How do you unwind away from work?
 I enjoy running which is easy to do even if I’m abroad. Biking in summer and skiing or skating in winter. It’s nice to see we have many sportive people in the company and we have participated half marathons and ten miles together. It creates a good team spirit.

11. Who do you most admire in business?  
Generally I admire people with a positive attitude and who are able to motivate others in any circumstance and never lose their patience.

12. What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing is to be able to meet other companies in different countries and different cultures. I enjoy travelling and the communication in different languages.

13. What is your favourite pastime? 
I have always been a fanatic about sports and can really enjoy watching my kids train or play a game of football. We have seats at the FC Twente stadium and I love the atmosphere.

14. What do you think will be the future big changes for the industry?
More and more blinds will be sold through the internet where people will be able to compare, but also look for new ideas. Fashion will change faster and faster and service and quality become even more important.

15. What has been your worst business decision? 
After having worked for Allpac for three years I left the industry to work for a Dutch company selling upholstery components in the UK. I enjoyed living there, but found the company didn’t suit me that well.. Only after half a year in this industry I was asked to come and work for Dutra and I joined our industry again.

16. What has been your best business decision? 
The best was to join Christiaan Roetgering at Coulisse 11 years ago.

17. ‘Live to work’ or ‘work to live’? 
I guess in a way both of them as I never really get away from it, living just a minute away from the office and my wife works here as well. You tend to discuss things all the time. For many people this seems to be a disadvantage, but I can only see this positively as we both enjoy our work. On the other hand I also enjoy my spare time enjoying it with my wife and boys (age 7 and 9)



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