Bertram Weiss - a reliable business partner in the caravanning industry

Bertram Weiss - a reliable business partner in the caravanning industry – main image

Bertram, we met a few years ago at a camping fair in Poland. You are German, you work in the Czech branch of a Swiss company and you look after the Polish market... It's a rather unusual combination - can you tell us more about your origins and professional experience?

I am actually a radio and television technician by profession, but I have always been interested in car sound systems. In 1996, I moved to the Czech Republic because of my wife and in the same year I started working for ACR (ACR owns the Zenec, Xzent, Emphaser, Axton and Eton brands - editor's note).

We are not a branch, but an independent company that makes its own decisions about the products distributed. Over the years, we have added additional countries and for about 6 years we have also been serving the Polish caravanning market, which we liked.

Your company has an excellent reputation as a specialist in camper navigation and car audio, and its products are used by demanding customers. Can you tell us more about the range you sell?

Generally speaking, we operate in the car audio and multimedia segment for "ordinary" cars, as well as for campers. The scope of our offer can be divided into three areas: navigation with reversing cameras, sound system and alarm systems. It is very important for us to offer devices with practical functions, e.g. in all our camper navigation systems you have the option of specifying the dimensions of the camper, such as width, height and length, as well as weight.

Then, the navigation system calculates the best route for you based on these parameters. Additionally, our Xzent and Zenec products have been developed with specific vehicles in mind. This means that our offer includes dedicated models for Fiat Ducato and its twin structures, as well as for Ford Transit. Each of them is to be aesthetically adapted to the dashboard of a given car. We use many of our products ourselves as we are also enthusiasts of the mobile lifestyle.

In your opinion, what constitutes a competitive advantage and makes you market leaders?

In fact, we not only know our products in detail, but also the vehicles in which they are installed. So we don't just sell products, we also sell our knowledge and skills so that we can provide our dealers and customers with the best possible support. I dare say it's the best.

To answer your question - it almost never happens that we cannot solve the problem within a few minutes . Typically, the dealer calls us, asks a question and receives an answer immediately. This is where I see the great difference between us and others.

Anyone can sell devices, but it is important that everything works, and if a dealer has a customer in front of him, he needs a solution immediately, not, say, in a week.

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion in the motorhome industry about car audio and navigation - in this respect, you know most of the base vehicles like no other expert. Is there potential for improvement in every manufacturer?

Yes, it is true that we know each other very well on virtually all platforms, we visit dealers, we attend every industry event, but we also help customers directly.

It is not easy to answer your question - unfortunately, we are aware that even in the case of the most expensive vehicles, surprises may occur. Regardless of the brand of the camper, you should pay close attention to what multimedia/navigation devices and cameras are included and how they work.

We often travel in a camper for 8 or more hours non-stop and we don't want to worry that something won't work. Unfortunately, many manufacturers install budget, mediocre speakers, and this does not have a positive effect on the acoustic experience when listening to music.

I must admit that even my own wife was quite skeptical when she heard about our plans to replace the speakers in our camper. However, the effect was so convincing that more and more often she asked me to "turn up" the potentiometer. We even sing together…

Purchasing a car audio system for a camper – what kind of expense should you expect and what can you expect from it?

Improving sound quality does not have to involve a large investment. If, for example, you own a Fiat Ducato 7 or 8 in the VAN or semi-integrated version, the special plug & play system from Emphaser will work great for about 270 Euro, and the difference will be simply phenomenal.

We also often have clients who do not accept compromises and are looking for an "all inclusive" option. Such a complete set with small special digital amplifiers from Eton, subwoofers under the cup holder, etc. costs around €1,200, but we can expect great, even impressive sound in the camper.

Navigators have become an integral part of camper equipment. How do your products differ from other models on the market?

Our products are primarily focused on practical aspects. Not only me, but also my distributor colleagues from other countries are caravanning enthusiasts. We stay in constant contact and pass on our ideas and observations to the development department in Switzerland.

In this way, a new way of processing and transmitting data was created - complete routes with many intermediate points can be prepared on a computer, tablet or mobile phone, and then sent from the mobile device to the Zenec navigation system with one button.

The user no longer has to manually enter everything on the vehicle's screen. It is thanks to such amenities that planning routes and the journey itself can be fun, not a challenge.

How is the network of specialist dealers and workshops in Poland developing and what can new partners expect from you?

The Polish market has really developed a lot in recent years and is now much larger than the Czech market - this was not necessarily the case before. The dealer network is also developing very well and I can say that most of our resellers can also offer decent service.

We are in very close contact with our dealers and support them so that they can offer their customers the best possible service. From the very beginning of our cooperation, we give new partners access to our knowledge and necessary training.

We even check their orders for compliance. For example - if I notice components in the list that I know will not work together in a given configuration or will not produce the intended effect, then instead of thoughtlessly sending the goods, we will contact the customer, discuss the topic and together modify the order so that it makes sense. After all, we want the installation to go smoothly.

Safety in a camper is a more topical topic than ever before. From your experience - what is the absolute minimum level of security equipment and what should you consider when choosing an alarm for your camper?

In my opinion, the absolute minimum is a gas alarm in a camper . Our basic Thitronik model includes propane/butane and anesthetic gases, is inexpensive and easy to install. Thitronik is a German brand that actually still produces in Germany and provides a 3-year warranty on its products.

There is often a misconception that the subject of protection is a vehicle. I think you have to look at it differently. Regardless of what alarm system is installed - if the alarm goes off because someone is tampering with the vehicle, but no one is near the camper at the moment, the alarm will probably not help us in any way, and the thief will still leave with what he found. looking for.

The protection of people staying in the vehicle and staying overnight should be much more important. There is probably no worse feeling than waking up in the morning and realizing that we had uninvited guests.

The scenario is the same in most cases. First, narcotic gas is sprayed, and when it works, the robbers have a free hand. Therefore, the basic element should always be a gas alarm for a camper .

Of course - if you want the system to be more complex, you can also secure all doors, windows and service flaps around the vehicle - an alarm will be triggered when you try to open it. This significantly increases the sense of security for the driver and passengers. The operation of the entire system is very simple and does not require complicated configuration or technical knowledge related to operation.

Both Thitronik and Zenec products have proven themselves in recent years and it is clearly visible that more and more customers are choosing them. What are your bestsellers in Poland and what innovations can we expect in the latest collections?

I don't want to go into detail here, but in general I can say that RV navigation systems and car alarm systems sell very well. Sound systems for campers are still a relatively new area for us, but we are also seeing growing interest here.

There will be several new products coming out over the next year. Zenec will present a new, multi-purpose media station with the ability to connect multiple cameras, a camera model adapted to it, as well as a Thitronik NFC module for contactless opening and closing of the vehicle.

There will also be a simplified version of the alarm system for caravans, also intended for self-assembly. I wouldn't like to reveal the details yet.

You have been an active traveler for some time. There was a time when a camper van didn't seem to be "your thing". What made you change your attitude or how were you convinced?

I didn't need much convincing. We simply wanted to enjoy the all-inclusive luxury of various hotels, but over time it was no longer enough for us and we wanted to see more of this world and experience it in a different way. The choice of a camper was natural due to the nature of my work.

Do you have any special memories related to Poland?

Of course. When asked such a question, I immediately think about the fair in Poznań about 2 years ago. My camper was then parked among others in front of one of the halls, and one evening I "jumped" from one camper to the next, updating maps and answering various questions.

Although I hardly speak Polish, we were able to communicate well in mostly Czech-Polish. I explained the useful functions of our devices to the participants of the rally and it was a very fun (but also drunk) evening. Many companions will probably remember this situation when they read the above description.

What language do you use to communicate with your Polish customers and how can they establish cooperation with you if you are still looking for business partners in our country?

I speak German, Czech and English fluently. And this is one of the reasons why I only cooperate with companies that provide individual customer service. Usually, in every company, there is someone who speaks one of the above-mentioned languages, so there are no major problems with communication and training.

When it comes to looking for new business partners, of course I am always open to new contacts. If you are interested in working with me, please visit my website , where you can find my contact details.

The website is currently under construction, but soon there will be information about the products offered and direct contacts to all companies where the end customer can purchase and install all products from our distribution.

Bertram, thank you for the interview and one last question at the end: what is the furthest country in which the client you constantly serve is located?

Also thank you for the interview. The company furthest from the Czech Republic that I supply and support in technical matters is located in New Zealand. We met about 5 years ago at a trade fair in Dusseldorf and we have been working together continuously to this day.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Bertramem Weissem
Maciej Kinal
Maciej Kinal

I feel best in the form of trade fairs and meetings with enthusiasts. Technical freak. In my life I have dismantled many motorhomes for the first time. Fan of large vehicles, mountain biking and traveling without weight and financial restrictions. At CampRest, I am responsible for all publications on automotive topics.

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