BRINGING HARMONY, AMBIENCE AND WARMTH TO THE HOME
Interview with Eduard Kuss. Photography: David Toms
Tell us something about your professional background and why you chose to come to Spain…
Pias Chimeneas was established in 2004 and we opened our showroom in 2005. Pia is a banker and she has 30 years’ experience in banking and finance. I am a banker too and graduated in business management and IT. I also worked a couple of years as a treasurer in a large German international company. We lived in America and Mexico and then finally returned to Germany. It was then when we decided to open something for ourselves and totally change our careers. We thought it would be a great idea to open a fireplace shop in Marbella – our friends thought we were crazy! We had a German production company for fireplaces and they taught us how to do installations.
We had saved some money so we could survive the learning curve during the first few years. We learned that here they do not require free-standing stoves.
So we changed our strategy and contacted other companies and importers and learned that 90 per cent of the fireplaces required here were gas fires – this was something we had not expected. Also, in the first few years we spent a lot of money on advertising and networked like crazy to make lots of contacts.
What are the basic principles behind your work ethic?
We want to provide good service and high quality products. It is important to us to always install according to European requirements and offer an excellent after-sales service.
How would you summarise the market at present and how you fit into this market?
When the property market was very low, we didn’t stop marketing, networking and showing new products and developments in our business. Around 98 per cent of our clients are foreigners, particularly from the north of Europe. Spanish people do not tend to come to us. I think we are more attractive to northern Europeans because we have so many products from there, so our clients can have brand names that they recognise from their own countries. We are an independent dealer and can provide almost anything. The market is coming back and we have had a very successful last couple of years with work from all over the Costa del Sol and Cádiz.
How would you differentiate your business from others in your sector?
We are independent with two or three suppliers. We can deliver ideas based on what we see in the international market. We follow trends and go to fairs, where we get ideas and find out about all the latest products.
What do you most enjoy about your work and what is your vision for the company?
I enjoy how varied my work is. Each client has a unique requirement which makes our job interesting. We do all of the installations ourselves and I attend every single one. My partner has a degree in fireplace building from Germany and works to European standards. Our vision… well we want to continue with our success!
How do you see the future of fireplaces and designs for heaters?
Renewable energy is the buzzword but it is a shame because many people don’t like to use pellets as it is easier to switch on a gas fire. Pellets are clean and a great alternative to, say, a wood burner. The firewood is not that great here in Spain so a bioethanol fire is much better. The design for heaters is very interesting. You can have a heater for every room in your house and it can even be used as a central heating system to heat a swimming pool in combination with a wood or pellet burner in your living room. A fireplace is not just something that brings harmony and ambience but it can also be used as an energy source in your house for a radiator or under-floor heating. From the heater, there is a connection to a water system that can warm up a pool.
In terms of design, you can use nearly every material available for your fireplace, from leather, gold and silver to stone… the list goes on. You can build some really incredible fireplaces these days. In our shop we have standard products but we can also provide bespoke fireplaces to suit any requirement.
What do you think is key to running a successful company in Spain?
You have to be knowledgeable about the market you are entering and have some money behind you. You cannot start on a shoestring. Patience is very important. To be able to speak more than one language is also important on the Costa del Sol, and it has been an advantage that we speak various languages as it has opened more doors for us. You must be open-minded.
Calle El Califa 564. Nueva Andalucía, Marbella
Tel. (+34) 951 275 693 / www.pias-chimeneas.com