Seb Cairns manages Kampmann’s business in North America

Kampmann Heating, Cooling, Ventilation Ltd., Vancouver (Canada) was established in January 2016. The Kampmann subsidiary is responsible for the sale and distribution of Kampmann HVAC products in North America. Seb Cairns is Managing Director.

He was very familiar with North American business well before he moved his business and home to Vancouver on the west coast of Canada. Seb Cairns had previously worked in London with Thorsten Niehoff who set up Kampmann UK Limited. Although Kampmann had had a presence in the United Kingston since the beginning of the 1980s, the establishment of a subsidiary there four years ago was intended to give the company’s UK business additional impetus with a local presence. Seb Cairns and Thorsten Niehoff set things up. They quickly formed a team that has since grown to some twelve employees. Last year was Kampmann’s most successful year on the island, home to the world’s most important design and architectural offices. Business relations with North America came about through business contacts with them. It identified that the market for Kampmann products in North America was very similar to that in the UK. Kampmann Heating, Cooling, Ventilation Ltd. was founded at the start of last year to get closer to the North American market with a personal presence, based on the UK’s successful business model. Seb Cairns grabbed his suitcase and then embarked on a Herculean task in Vancouver to serve the huge North American market from the southern tip of Mexico to the northern tip of Canada.


"What happens in the USA applies to the whole of North America," explains Seb Cairns. Correspondingly, the North American heating and air conditioning equipment is "extremely bulky” and energy-intensive. Up to now, the much slimmer and more energy-efficient Kampmann products have had a solid niche position, which then experienced rapid growth last year. "We were partners of the US distribution company "Tunstall", which is convinced by Kampmann products. This company is everywhere in the USA. In Canada we cooperate with "Trane", says Cairns. Seb Cairns tirelessly toured around the North American continent, visiting sales partners in Boston, Montana or Washington among others, with a focus on the cities. "Lunch and learn" is the current most popular recipe for success: "I arrange appointments with engineers or architects for one or two hours. I bring along something to eat or drink and present Kampmann. The success is overwhelming! The North Americans like products made by Kampmann, because they are technically better and more efficient," continues Seb Cairns. As previously in London, Kampmann’s North American representative wants to extend the company’s success. He is currently building up a small team to be able to work the gigantic market with its great opportunities even more intensively. "North America clearly has the potential to be one of Kampmann’s strongest export regions" estimates Seb Cairns optimistically.

"The North Americans like products made by Kampmann, because they are technically better and more efficient"


The excellent business success of the still very young Kampmann Heating, Cooling, Ventilation Ltd. is now affected by the completed CETA trade agreement between Canada and the EU, by the TTIP trans-Atlantic trade agreement between the United States and the EU and orchestrated by the votes on the outcome of the US presidential election. How does Seb Cairns manage to maintain the successful growth of the company in these troubled waters? "CETA is the clearest trade agreement because it is most transparent. I think it is fantastic that it was adopted. CETA means that the 7 percent tax on Kampmann products has been dispensed with and this will help us," explains Seb Cairns. He does not see a problem with standards and certificates, "our Canadian business will slowly and steadily evolve over the next few years", he is convinced. Unlike the USA: "US standards do not have the same level as EU standards," states Seb Cairns. He therefore fears that a TTIP, shaped by the US, will have a negative impact on the level of EU standards and certificates. He expects specific market reactions – not in the short term, but in three to four years after the adoption of TTIP. Although he is positive that TTIP, as CETA has already done, will have a positive impact on European trade in the USA. This also applies to the election of the new US President Donald Trump: "Take Trump’s negative statements about NAFTA, the American trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Then he will not survive as President, as everyone knows that all three countries need each other. And so I don't really think that Trump will change much here," explains Seb Cairns.


In London, Thorsten Niehoff agrees on all points with his former partner Seb Cairns’ statements. Niehoff, Managing Director of Kampmann UK Ltd., regards US certification as being "an agony that has nothing to do with security, but more about market walling-off.” A special challenge is also the different legislation that needs to be taken into account in the individual states. He regards the question about whether certification in the transatlantic agreement between North America and the EU can be homogenised or not as being the key question that will define Kampmann’s Anglo-American business over the next few years. Both in London as well as in Vancouver. Although “Lunch and learn" is currently an important key, the door to North America is still waiting to be opened even further.

Skyline of Vancouver with skyscrapers

VANCOUVER - Headquarters of Kampmann Heating, Cooling, Ventilation Ltd.

Photos: Burger @ Joshua Resnick – shutterstock; Skyline von Vancouver @ Thom Quine, CC BY 2.0