30 Fabulous Companies of the Year 2021
The Silicon Review
“We are focusing strongly on optimizing and improving internal processes to increase efficiency.”
Air-Lux Technik AG is a Krapf AG subsidiary. Air-Lux has been using its extensive expertise and relationships with architects, facade planners, general contractors, and building owners to implement solid, high quality, and durable solutions.
Krapf AG, a leading Swiss metal and facade engineering company, specialises in consulting, planning, production, and installing facades, glass, and metal construction. In 2004, Krapf AG developed the pneumatically sealed air-lux sliding window system.
Lukas Knechtle, Air-Lux Technik AG Owner and Managing Director, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Q. Explain your company’s successful journey to date.
Gebhard Krapf founded Krapf AG in 1964. Later, in 1994, Heinz Sauter took over the company, which employed about four people. In the following years, the company grew steadily and took care of larger and more complex metal and facade construction projects. Contemporary expertise and innovative solutions were the keys to success.
Q. What motivated you to develop a unique windows and ceiling concept?
In 2004, we received a request for even a larger sliding windows project with very high requirements regarding tightness, weight, and architecture. There was no system available on the market that could meet the requirements. In addition, we had problems with the sliding windows from various houses in the past. This was the motivation to develop our own, better sliding window system.
Q. Tell us about your extensive portfolio of custom builds.
In principle, every air-lux project is custom-made, as we always try to implement the architect’s wishes and the client as best as we can. However, product-related are certainly the sliding window, pivot door, and descending window, where all products have an air seal.
Q. What can you tell us about Folio Glass, a company you have recently partnered with?
Folio Glass, committed to a simple approach, cares about its work, the people, and the projects it’s part of. Folio collaborates with manufacturers that it trusts. That said, recently, we collaborated with Folio, based in Menlo Park, CA. As part of its outreach program, Folio travels to its partners’ factories to meet their teams, focusing on building long-term, sustainable relationships.
Let me highlight that Folio specializes in creating unbounded spaces with minimal frame designs. They push the limits of typical fenestration design to create distinctive spaces that are environmentally conscious. Simply put, Folio project management and installation teams bring experience, expertise, and precision from start to finish.
Q. High-quality architecture and planning work comes with an expensive price tag, scaring away many people and forcing them to go for an affordable local agent. Do you provide fit-for-all services? How do you manage affordability and profitability?
The problem with products is that you can only give feedback at the end of their life cycle, whether the product was expensive or inexpensive. We do not pursue a ‘light’ version with air-lux, as it does not suit us. Our goal is to be the best without compromise.
Q. There are other reputed companies in the market, providing minimalistic sliding windows and pivot doors. What makes you a better service provider?
I cannot judge whether we are better than our competitors or not, but what I can say is that our focus is always on the customer and his vision, not on sales or profits. Money may never be a self-purpose for a company. We live this with conviction and consistently tell a client that our product is not the right one for this kind of use.
Q. Not all architects can imagine themselves in customers’ place to design it according to their views. A builder/designer can only suggest making some changes, but they cannot completely understand customer needs. How do you bridge the gap between customers’ imagination and outcome?
As already mentioned, it is very important for us to fully understand the customer and his wishes. Only when we have found out through mutual dialogue what the customer’s ideas are in terms of architecture and benefits we can start with the implementation. The common understanding then generates the trust that is necessary for a successful project.
Q. How efficient are your architecture and planning services? Justify.
We also realize large facade construction projects in Switzerland, where an extremely large amount of expertise is essential to be successful. The competition on the market in this segment is very high, which keeps us fit and competitive. For this reason, I would say our planning services are for sure on a high level.
Q. What are your plans for the development of your company and your products?
Currently, we are focusing strongly on optimizing and improving internal processes to increase efficiency. On the product side, we are developing our air sealing technology with a team of engineers and specialists in different areas. Our explicit goal here is to be the market and technology leader in the field of air sealing.
The Leader at the Helm of Air-Lux Technik AG
Lukas Knechtle learned metalworking at Krapf AG in Engelberg a good 20 years ago. After completing his apprenticeship, he took further training to become a master metalworker. Recently, he also completed a course in economics at the renowned HSG University of Applied Sciences. For more than 10 years, he has been the Managing Director of Krapf and Air-lux Technik AG and was able to take over both companies last year, making him the new owner of both companies.