„A step into the future“
An interview with the gwk management about the relocation from Kierspe to Meinerzhagen
With the acquisition of the former Battenfeld location in Meinerzhagen and the relocation in the middle of June gwk Gesellschaft Wärme Kältetechnik is setting the right course for a future-oriented growth. In the interview the managing director Patrick Zeppenfeld and the chief customer officer Helmut Gries explain the company’s motives for the decision and point out the advantages the company, the employees and last but not least the customers are going to benefit from.
Mr Zeppenfeld, Mr Gries, why does gwk relocate?
Patrick Zeppenfeld: Since 1967 gwk has been located in the centre of Kierspe. As a result of the excellent business developments during the last years, the company building in Kierspe could not offer more expansion possibilities and was bursting at the seams. For almost three years we have sought for opportunities how and where an expansion could be realized. Unfortunately, we did not find any suitable properties in Kierspe. When the former Battenfeld building located directly in our neighbourhood was up for sale we did the deal.
Helmut Gries: Our main customers demanded concrete measures from us to accompany their growth. The new site at Meinerzhagen is ideal to comply with their request. We are going to double our production area and set the right course for future growth by expanding according to the market requirements. Thus, it is more than a relocation, it is a step into the future.
Welche Vorteile bietet der neue Standort?
Patrick Zeppenfeld: Primarily we are moving closer to our customers, both spatially and technically. Thanks to the central freeway access to the A 45 the site can be easily reached. Furthermore, we are going to establish an ultra-modern customer center where acceptances and training courses can take place.
Helmut Gries: We extend our process and system engineering and establish new production and logistic processes – all with the aim to provide our customers with maximum flexibility by means of highly-efficient production methods. That way we can accompany them in their future growth.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
Helmut Gries: Well, besides the modernization of the facility - to which we as a plant manufacturer contribute considerably - we established new rules for the supply of materials, information and material flow, production processes, planning and control and much more. In this context we invest in new means of production. This includes a new paint shop installed according to state-of-the-art energy and environmental values, 5-axis processing centers, a palletizing machine, a plasma cutting system as well as a new inspection concept for quality assurance. Some of these investments have already been implemented.
Patrick Zeppenfeld: We are well known as system provider with a high vertical range of manufacture.
Our main concern is to set the benchmark in all production areas for our competition against the market. The customer will always get the most efficient production method from our company and has not to fear any cost disadvantages or lack of flexibility. The new location brings us closer to this maxime as we will only produce in Meinerzhagen. So everything is “made in Germany”.
Battenfeld already left Meinerzhagen in 2006. Why did this location gain your attention only now?
Patrick Zeppenfeld: The automobile supplier Pampus Automotive has settled there until recently, before they moved their headquarters to another country at the beginning of 2013. At the end of the year the 13 halls were up for sale. When we became aware of it we dealt with this topic and realized after comprehensive investigations: it fits perfectly. The straight, big and long halls as well as the administrative building match with our plans. Furthermore, the property is opulently equipped with all necessary supply facilities and disposes of high-load cranes in abundance. Battenfeld, too, had a production with a high vertical range of manufacture. Of course, this suits us well.
What does the relocation mean to the round 400 gwk employees?
Helmut Gries: First of all an investment in the future combined with a fundamental process of change that affects all employees. We are going to leave familiar surroundings with well-established processes and make completely new arrangements according to future-oriented aspects in a new environment. This requires the willingness to embrace change, high flexibility and causes a lot of work, because the organization of such a project is a mammoth task. We established a project team to coordinate the relocation and the simultaneous change of processes. All our employees will benefit from the better working conditions at the new site. As a lot of employees do not come from Kierspe, the majority will have a shorter journey to work.
How does the project relocation take place?
Patrick Zeppenfeld: The production is going to be moved step by step, some employees already work in Meinerzhagen. The administration is scheduled to move in one go in the middle of June. It’s our highest priority to ensure that delivery dates and customer service are not affected by the relocation. By means of a customer’s and supplier’s day we are going to present the new location to the interested public.