Friedrich Westphal has reinvented the wheelbarrow
Friedrich Westphal has reinvented the wheelbarrow. That it was about time for this, he was not only answered in this interview but also the market on which Karro achieved remarkable success.
I understand well that one ask this question whether it is needed to reinvent a wheelbarrow, or even if it is possible at all. Wheelbarrows are finally built more or less unchanged for decades. And actually, no one was unsatisfied and has asked really for innovations. But humanity has also not waited for suitcases with wheels, but then somebody has thought about it and set a new standard. A part from that it is not only "the human" who needs a new wheelbarrow, but also the environment.
Before we start, at first the quite fundamental question; how a managing director of an engineering company gets the idea to think about the wheelbarrow topic.
As so often in life it was pure chance. During a summer holiday in Merano I saw an extremely rusty and damaged wheelbarrow on the alp. Now the engineer comes into the game and the passion to improve processes. The idea to change the product into plastics did not let me go. And by the way, I have also mentioned now the sustainability topic...
Why not, please continue with this...
Well, if one wheelbarrow rusts then it will be not different for others as well sooner or later. It does not matter whether it is galvanized or not. I have talked about this issue with many professional users and the essential point was that the metal wheelbarrow is absolute scrap after a year. And now you have to see this from the users' point of view: not only that he harms the environment - what he does not want at all, he has also permanent investments. And this because of a product which is simply not well thought out. Karro does not rust and is furthermore built extremely durable. And if you think it out - it is fully recycable.
"There are so many things people are daily using but just because no one thinks about it, it does not mean that they are good."
For the implementation of such an idea money is needed. And second chance for me was to meet a South African businessman, Charles Halsted, one week after my holidays. He is manufacturer of gardening and construction tools and he has also wheelbarrows in his product range. He was ready to realize this project together with me and to invest in it.
What was the biggest technical challenge for the realization?
The most important task was providing a frame with the needed stability. By hollowing out plastic parts it has been shown that the wall thickness is decisive for the stability. The load transmission on the plastic frame is quite different, the frame was therefore designed correspondingly. With water injection technology which is integrated in the injection moulding process, we achieve elasticity and stability in the same way. High-quality plastic material also ensures the lightness and durability of the product.
"We are plastic experts. We have already developed some revolutions for the automotive industry, too."
The karro has been awarded with the most important design prices. Another coincidence?
Yes and no. Of course we had the chance to create a good design but our focus was on the handling and ergonomics. But we have not made this superficial with the eyes of a designer and therefore we are more than happy that karro differentiates visually. We get so much back up from our customers saying how much fun they have to work with our wheelbarrow. Some of them are cooling their beer in it when they have a garden party in summer. We find this great. This takes us to the market.
How does it react to karro?
The response is good till now. Besides our own web shop it will be soon possible to buy karro in specialised stores. This will improve our awareness level and sales volume decisively. Beside this we let test karro again and again and collect opinions. This is also "market" for us.
Do you have already ideas how it goes on with that brand?
Of course, but these are not betrayed yet.