First 100 years form a foundation for growth

In Germany there are many mechanical engineering companies with a long tradition, but only a few like Kroenert can look back on a 100-year history. Managing partner Burkhard Meyer and his team represent a modern group that is fit to meet the demands of global competition.

Kroenert in 2003 is more than just a mechanical engineering company. It is an entire group, comprising five companies, each with a different focus. Apart from the parent company, Maschinenfabrik Max Kroenert, there are the US sales and service subsidiary Kroenert Corp, Hamburg based ZAE-AntriebsSysteme, producer of drying and moistening systems, Drytec Trocknungs- und Befeuchtungstechnik, headquartered in Norderstedt, and Swiss mechanical engineering company Bachofen + Meier (BMB), acquired from Jagenberg at the beginning of 2003. While each company acts independently in the market, the group benefits from their combination of expertise and product transfer.

The group currently employs approximately 500 staff and achieves total sales of more than €120M. More than 4,000 installations worldwide back up its claim to be the market leader for high quality systems for the application, coating, laminating and drying of web materials. Kroenert offers a ‘one-stop service’ ranging from consultation to test runs at its Technicum plants from conception with the customer through to the after-sales package.

Even before the take-over of BMB, Kroenert was focusing on the top position in the global ranking of suppliers of customized coating, laminating and drying machines. Since the beginning of the year, there is little doubt that it holds this position, now that the two strongest selling European companies are co-operating.

With the strategic acquisition of its Swiss competitor, Kroenert issued a clear signal that 100 years do not mark the end of a development – they are a starting point for global positioning.

Combined expertise

Burkhard Meyer is placing all his emphasis on global markets: “Our group provides a greater performance and more service to its customers than any other market participant. The combined expertise of all our companies alone guarantees the greatest level of competence for all technical and technological issues. Each company has established teams of executives that can look back on longstanding success. In the construction of coating machines; more than 20 proven experts secure the lead in technology development.”

A business in which several families participated has become a clearly structured group of companies. As early as 1919, following the end of World War I, founder of the company Max Kroenert successively withdrew from his business. It was then managed by his partner, Hans Jens Meyer, until his death in 1954. He was succeeded by his son, Dr Hans Erich Meyer, who transferred a large share of the entrepreneurial responsibility to head construction engineer Hans Reinhardt.

In 1981, Dr Hans Erich Meyer died and the management was taken over by his son, Burkhard Meyer, who had been active in the engineering department and sales of the company since the end of the sixties (at one stage he also managed ZAE). He was joined by Hans Reinhardt, whose sons, Hans-Georg and Klaus-Dieter, follow ed in his footsteps, becoming managers and partners on his retirement in 1983. They, in turn, retired from the company in 2002. Since then, Burkhard Meyer has held a clear majority in the Kroenert Group.

“It is a good basis for pioneering decisions,” he says. He believes strongly that core competences must always remain in-house, and that a large share of finished parts and the entire assembly must be executed under the company’s own roof.

New goals

Are there still ideas and visions after that? “Our highly motivated team still has goals,” he emphasizes. “Only recently the decision was made to undertake a further quantum leap on the Kroenert site. A new four-storey office building and a production hall are due to be completed in the summer. This is the first stage of a master plan for the modernization of the entire premises.”

With three modern Technicum machines (in Hamburg, Switzerland, and Canada), and another to follow in Hamburg this summer, the Kroenert Group aims to fulfil market expectations. It continues to invest major sums to develop even faster and more effective coating methods for the future.


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