Cotes, a family-owned mid-sized Danish company is celebrating its 35-years anniversary. I sat down with Thomas Rønnow, owner and CEO of Cotes, to better understand how Cotes keeps achieving and growing in such a competitive market and what turning 35 means to him.
Image above: Thomas Rønnow, Owner and CEO of Cotes
Benjamin: Thank you for taking the time to chat Thomas and congratulations on 35 years in business! I won't do the math, but you took ownership of Cotes at a relatively young age and used the past 12 years to build it up to what it is today. Looking back, did you ever think you would be delivering adsorption dehumidifiers [dry-air solution] to some of the biggest names in renewable energy?
Thomas: Haha when your age is involved not many people want to do the maths, but as an engineer, maths is kind of my thing. But that's right, I bought shares in 2010, but did not take over the company until 2018 and 2019 when I bought the remaining shares. But in all seriousness, no one can really know with certainty what will happen 12 years down the road. When I took over the company I saw a market potential and a real need for better adsorption dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers, or dry-air solutions as we call them at Cotes. There were some players in the market at the time but they were not doing a good job in my opinion and as an engineer, I knew there was a better way to approach the problem. So even though I had a dream or a vision at the time, you never know if it will turn out the way you want it to. Looking back now, I think it is going the right way.
Benjamin: You mention the competition. How do you perceive the competition?
Thomas: I think competition is a healthy thing. It actually pushes us to make even better dry-air solutions. We have something of an unfair advantage in the wind industry in the way that we have a lot of great talent and experience to draw from with only a stone throw away from some of the biggest names in the wind industry. We know the wind industry inside out and with the industry standards and requirements we end up making better dry-air solutions for other industries and vice versa. If you just focus on raw price, we are not the cheapest solution out there but have some of the markets most energy-efficient and sturdy dehumidifiers that are reliable and easy to service. I believe we have a superior solution to our competitors. So over the lifetime of a CWO dehumidifier, a patented Cotes dry-air solution for the wind turbines, our units can easily exceed 200.000 operational hours. Though building the best adsorption dehumidifier on the market also means that you can't be complacent. Since I took over at Cotes we developed a patented combined desalter and dehumidifier for the offshore wind industry and a unique low dehumidifier for ultra low humidities in litium.ion battery manufacturing, cutting 50% of the consumptions and at the same time running on waste heat. Both applications are within renewable energy and in both cases, we are witnessing huge market interest as our dehumidifiers are superior in the market in terms of efficiency.
Benjamin: Sounds like you have a strong position and focus on renewable energy. What about the other industry applications you mentioned?
Thomas: Where we have a direct market strategy in renewable energy markets, we have a partnership strategy for all other market and industrial applications. Over the years we have built a global network of trusted companies, or partners as we call them. In part, our success in the global market is due to us being able to find the right partners in different regions and scale rapidly. Scattered across the world, our partners can advise, sell and service Cotes dehumidifiers locally in a way we could not do from our HQ in Aarhus.
Benjamin: What does the future hold for you and for Cotes?
Thomas: The future of Cotes? Given the current climate crisis we face, I want to rephrase the question to the only perspective that really matters which is "What does the future hold for us all?" I believe we all need to do our part and push for a positive impact where ever possible. Cotes will keep focusing on renewable energy and high impact industries to help them become more energy-efficient and sustainable. It is the right thing to do.
Benjamin: Is that what you mean with “Cotes, the right way to dry”?
Thomas: In a way, yes. We believe in doing things the right way and the right way to dry means finding the right dry-air solution for you, for your business and for the planet. So, if we think that the right dry-air solution is opening the window, then that is what we tell you.
Benjamin: How do you intend to celebrate the day?
Thomas: We have decided to invite all employees to Aarhus for a day of fun activities in what we hope will be sunny danish weather. If the COVID epidemic has taught us anything, then it is that mental wellbeing is just as important than physical wellbeing. The team deserves a break and deserves the opportunity to do some much needed R&R.
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