Ahmad Alshidiq speaks with Martin Reichenecker (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Spokesman of the Board) and Borries Schϋler (Chief Product Management and Engineering Officer) from The Hoffmann Group on the company’s recipe for standing strong for 100 years.
The Hoffmann Group is a leading system partner for quality tools, combining trading with manufacturing and service expertise. It supports over 135,000 customers with supply capability, assured quality and enhanced productivity in meeting all their needs for machining tooling, clamping, measuring, grinding, as well as workstations and storage and personal protective equipment.
This year, the headquarters based in Munich is celebrating its centenary with excellent prospects. In 2018, the Hoffmann SE with its subsidiaries achieved record sales of more than EUR1 billion, the number of employees grew to more than 3,000 and the company is continuing to grow organically. Hoffmann SE develops and steers the corporate strategy and orientation of the entire Hoffmann Group together with its long-standing partner companies. In 2018 the Hoffmann Group comprising Hoffmann SE and its partners generated a turnover of more than EUR1.4 billion and employed approximately 3,700 people.
100 years in the industry is a significant milestone. What has Hoffman done right to be an industry leader for such a long time?
Martin Reichenecker [MR]: For 100 years, we’ve been flexible with our offerings and products. Today, we are the number one in Europe in quality tools, cutting tools, hand tools, metrology, etc. I think what has brought the company success is we are always focussing on the clients´needs, trying things and learning fast. We’ve been pioneer in some fields of tools distribution. We had our first printed catalogue in back in 1936 and in 1998 we established the first web shop in the industry. There has always been a good combination of traditional, well used and modern aspects (in our offerings) which helped the company to reach a revenue of more than EUR1 billion in 2018. We are also serving many different industries, not just any particular one.
Borries Schϋler [BS]: We also employ the right people that grasp Hoffmann’s philosophy in serving our customers.
Any changes Hoffmann has made in this era of Industry 4.0 from what they offer previously?
MR: In 2009, we already had our first wave of digitalisation called 360-degree tooling and provided our customers with electronic tool files across a complete cutting tool assortment. And we also started building data-based solutions for our customers.
What’s your most breakthrough technology and why is it important to the industry?
MR: Two years ago, we launched the high performance drills GARANT Master Steel SPEED and FEED and opened up a new performance class allowing the customer productivity rates. It was not so normal that time. Another technology from Hoffmann is the TPC and the Parabolic Performance Cutting – a further development of ball-nosed slot drilling cutting and also known as barrel milling. These solutions offer customer high productivity.
BS: In August this year, we will be launching our new constant grid dimension. Today, different manufacturers have different grid dimensions for cabinets, work benches, trolleys and so on. And from Hoffmann, you will get all the items in the same grid dimension. This will offer you space for customisation and long-term investment protection, and this is a technical step ahead as it is a complete system. With the GARANT GridLine series, the Hoffmann Group is now the first supplier to offer a completely integrated modular concept in its product range, which includes even the smallest details such as partitioning materials and rigid foam inserts for drawers.
Hoffmann’s own brand GARANT is one of the biggest tool brands in Europe, it is the only brand with which you can completely equip the whole workshop. Customers have given trust to this brand and they know we are delivering everything – whether it is cutting tools, metrology, hand tools, grinding discs or workshop equipment. With GARANT, you have one brand with the whole portfolio for your mechanical production.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for Hoffman in the forthcoming years?
MR: Hoffmann became very international in the last 15-20 years, having expanded from countries in all over Europe to North America, and to Asia. We are a young and small player in some markets but the opportunity is huge for us. Product-wise, we still have a lot of ideas on what can be brought into the market. And last but not least, on process optimisation for customers. From application to ordering process, we want to optimise the whole process end-to-end.
What’s your strategy in Southeast Asia?
MR: We learned a lot about the market in the past year, and we discussed and adjusted our approach in the region – much focus is on Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
What is most important in addressing present-day challenges in digital manufacturing?
BS: I would take it a bit wider with digitisation, completely. I think digitalising internal processes can be handled; it’s just a matter of time and how many resources you have. In developing digital business models, you have to have the right people and certain creativity in your staff. For me, the challenge will be when you have a higher transparency of data and team members have to take bigger decisions in a shorter period of time. You have to have the right people who can perform this when time calls for it.
Milestones For The Hoffmann Group
1919 – Josef Hoffmann registered a company in Munich.
1932 – Franz Hoffmann joined his father’s company. He shaped the company for more than 60 years.
1936 – The first catalogue revolutionised the industry.
1973 – The introduction of the GARANT brand turned Hoffmann, the reseller, also into a manufacturer.
1993 – Foundation of the Hoffmann Gruppe, which has been called the Hoffmann Group since 2003.
1995 – First steps over the border: Hoffmann went international.
2000 – Started its online business.
2009 – Opening of Europe´s and the industry´s largest and most efficient logistics centre.
2018 – Further expansion: construction started on the LogisticCity in Nuremberg.
2019 – Hoffmann is preparing for the next 100 years: with digital products and services.
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