Growth - not a matter of course

Last year I addressed the topic "Beyond the limits" in this medium. Obviously not unfounded, because each and every one of them was challenged, many had to leave their "comfort zone" and they probably did not only once go to their limits. Even if we do not yet see all the successes today, I am convinced that they will soon show themselves to be sustainable.

Let me take a look forward, but also pause for a moment and review the year 2018 with a few sentences. Through our branches and sales partners, we were able to maintain or expand our position in many markets, even though these efforts were somewhat overshadowed by a tense delivery situation, which accompanied us particularly in the first half of the year. The team in Vamberk has worked hard to overcome many "ramp-up problems" in the new plant, but a number of measures are still needed to exploit the full potential of this site. The transfer of the stainless endless chain production to the site in France (CLI) was an exemplary success, the relocation and concentration of the sling chain production from Kapfenberg to Vamberk has almost been completed and will be completed by mid-2019 (with a few exceptions) for all quality classes.

The automation initiative, also in component production, has been initiated and will be continued next year with increased investments. These measures are necessary to remain competitive in a constantly changing market environment. Only in this way will we be able to hold our own tomorrow in a competitive environment characterised by crowding out, but above all to guarantee sustainable growth.

Apropos growth: The economic forecasts speak of a flattening of growth, but I am still convinced that we can grow disproportionately as a pewag. Supply chain and availability of the (right) products will (have to) improve considerably - so we can and will maintain our market position as a quality supplier - I am sure that we will successfully follow the path we have taken and thus also support the sales initiatives. Flexibility, cost awareness in production, high delivery rates in the supply chain and excellent service to the customer are becoming more important than ever to be able to react to the demands of the market.  Growth is not a matter of course, not a "perpetuum mobile" that is so easy to set up, but we have to do something to be successful tomorrow. We have also created the conditions for this on the sales side in recent months and will continue to focus on the focal points we have initiated - on the one hand with initiatives in our branches, but also through targeted business development in individual market regions and market segments. I expect new impulses for this.

Another topic that has been on our minds for some time is digitization. The digital is now part of our (personal) everyday life - and as a company we have also tuned in to it and will take on the digitalization and its possibilities consciously and increasingly.

Whether for products (levo), service (peTAG), technology and processes or organisation, digitisation opens the door to new ideas.

Another simple example of what digitization allows is this (my) article in the pewag times you are reading. To be honest, I couldn't submit my contribution on time and so the digital medium (and Dieter Haas) opened the door for me to publish the article in the pewag times (digital) after all.

I recently read another interesting article about digitization / industry 4.0. One of the theses in the mentioned contribution is also quite central for me, namely: In digital change, the question of a company's identity is becoming a decisive question. Digitisation requires orientation towards one's own identity.  "Amazon is not everything", says the author - the more complex and confusing the digital world is, the more important it is for companies to develop a clear answer to the question: What can we do, what do we really want? What is our long-term strategy? The first step is to sharpen one's own identity, one's own vision and to recognize the (digital) company-specific future code. Only then are companies not victims, but creators and designers of the digital and become from viewers to designers of digitization. Every company has its own strengths and challenges. Understanding and focusing on this will be a key capability for success in the digital economy in the future. For digital orientation does not consist in imitating the "GAFA" pattern (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) but in reflecting on the very own drives and potentials of a company. What's good for Amazon doesn't have to be good for a modern medium-sized company. Only then can the external step succeed: the establishment of sustainable relationships with customers and partners and the creation of enriching user experiences.

Here, too, the identity of the company determines the digital program: Only organisations that do not see man and machine as competitors, but as partners with complementary strengths, are in a position to recognise and exploit technological potential. The digital world cannot be controlled. But the conscious use of digital technologies can help to exploit their potential and create something extraordinary.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your enormous commitment and those who "work more closely" with me, thank you for bearing me as I am. I wish you and your families a peaceful Christmas and much success in the new year.

Let us shape the future together, because when great people come together, great things can happen, we just have to stick to it. 


Stefan Duller