We interview Udo Sonnenberg, president of the electric Handdryer Association (eHA)
"eHA, consequently, by today functions as a lobbying organization following the slogan “making electric hand drying the leading system”
Today, at our blog, we interview Udo Sonnenberg, president of the electric Handdryer Association (eHA), who tells us about his association: what it is, what its objectives are, what challenges it faces in the present and in the future, the relationship with its partners and more specifically, their relationship with Mediclinics, among other matters.
1. Good morning Udo. To begin with, please tell someone who is not familiar with the eHA (electric Handdryer Association): What the eHA is and what work do you do?
Good Morning! The electric Handdryer Association was “born” in 2017. Together with Starmix, we thought about an organization that push forward this way of drying hands: With warm air and electricity. Due to the fact, that many issues with regard to energy and hygiene are political, we decided to found an association also active on European politics. Basically, it has to do with political communications or – as we call it – public affairs. This actually, is my profession: Starting 1999 in the German Parliament, I have since worked for several associations in Berlin and a consulting firm that today is one of our competitors. The reason therefore, was that in 2008 I started to become self-employed. A few years later, in 2013, I founded my company “elfnullelf”. We help businesses to get through the political process – in Germany and Bruxelles. eHA, consequently, by today functions as a lobbying organization following the slogan “making electric hand drying the leading system”. This needs more positive regulation. eHA`s main topics are: Sustainability, positive energy balance during whole life-cycle, energy efficiency, protecting the environment, saving water and much more.
2. Why would you recommend a company in the industry to join a strong association such as eHA?
Making a vivid voice even louder. Politics likes bundled opinions. It`s always better to talk to politicians when they see there are many companies – the leaders of a branche – behind a certain postulation. Furthermore, sharing burden is always better. Work needs to be done, studies need to be funded, and a group of companies/people can more easily spread good news into their networks.
3. What are the main objectives of the association?
The positioning of electric hand drying on certain legislative levels in Bruxelles e.g. Positive communication on advantages of electric hand drying. Giving advice to politicians and the media on electric hand drying.
4. Could you describe shortly how is the electric hand dryer manufacturer ecosystem, please? How is the typical business of this sector?
The business structure is mainly medium-sized. Family-owned and run companies are solid and sustainable manufacturers. This actually is a good argument for decision makers on the political and administrative side.
5. What do you think are the main challenges the eHA and, more particularly, with the electric hand dryer manufacturer sector, is facing today? and in the future?
The biggest challenge is an industry named paper. During Covid-19 pandemic e.g. it was very obvious that everybody believed immediately paper towels are good, electric warm-air dryers are bad. The current climate and energy crisis is a good argument for electric hand dryers. However, rising energy costs are also a threat to this way of hand drying. Regarding legislation, it`s important to have high standards. These standards on the other side should not lead to bailing out dryers. We need to place the argument into discussion that most energy is needed to produce paper towels. That`s before one sees the paper in a restroom. For this reason, a life cycle analysis can come up with transparency to the public – and the customers: Everybody who run a public restroom – work places, hotels, camping sites, recreational areas and many more.
6. Let's talk now about your relationship with partners: How is your relationship with them, and more particularly with Mediclinics, S.A.? What would you highlight about Mediclinics, S.A. and what do you think it brings to the association?
Mediclinics is a member of eHA from the very beginning and definitely a driving force. After several meetings – offline and online – we know each other well and cooperation works smoothly. I think especially in internationally composed associations, it is important to get each other to know better. Working efficiently as an organization is essential. As the administrative representative of eHA, I need to bind everybody together but also to have an eye on my own business: eHA is one of our smaller clients. I`m grateful to have counterparts knowing well what is needed and can help quickly when politicians, authorities, or other organizations request something. On Mediclinics, I can rely in this respect.
Thank you very much Udo for answering our questions.