2017 was a successful financial year for the Schunk Group, with the technology company increasing its sales to 1.2 billion euros.
The Heuchelheim (Hesse) company saw 5.1 percent higher turnover than in the previous year. With this number, the Schunk Group grew significantly faster than the global economy, which recorded growth of 3.7 percent in 2017. The technology group’s equity ratio rose to around 66 percent. “This once again demonstrates the great financial strength and stability of the Schunk Group,” Dr. Arno Roth, CEO, summarized.
Growth across all regions and divisions
“The main reasons for the Schunk Group’s solid growth are the good economic activity in our key markets and our successful market development,” said Dr. Roth. “All divisions achieved their own sales increases and thus ensured strong sales growth for the entire Schunk Group.”
From a regional standpoint, the Schunk Group saw growth in each region in 2017. America and Asia, the technology company’s strategic growth regions, have developed especially well. In Asia, turnover increased primarily due to increased sales activities in China, India and Southeast Asia. In North America, growth is attributable to sales success in the U.S. and Mexico; in South America, sales increased in Brazil, where the Schunk Group benefited from a renewed increase in demand.
Schunk Group invests around 97 million euros in 2018
While the Schunk Group invested a total of 74 million euros in 2017, around 97 million euros are planned for this year. Major individual investments include a new production hall at the Heuchelheim site, the construction of a new technical center and the expansion of an office building at the Reiskirchen-Lindenstruth site, and the construction of a new production hall at the Wettenberg site. The Schunk Group is also investing in modernizing and expanding its sites’ machinery and equipment.
Schunk employees reap the rewards of earnings
“Schunk’s employees are and will always be the foundation of its success,” Dr. Roth emphasized. In fiscal 2017, the number of employees increased by around three percent to an annual average of 8,262. The Schunk Group has created more than 200 new jobs worldwide, with a large portion of them coming on the back of the capacity expansion at the Mexico site.
Due to the strong financial stability of the Group, employees will once again reap the rewards of the profits for fiscal 2017: a total of 26.5 million euros will be distributed to them in 2018. “Depending on the employees’ location and amount of time that they have been with the company, this results in each person receiving up to 6,000 euros in company profits – quite a considerable sum,” explained Dr. Roth.
First-class training and development
In addition to profit-sharing, Schunk Group employees benefit from the Group's excellent training and development opportunities. An example of this is CAMP (Corporate Advanced Management Program), the internal management training program that will be open to all global employees in the future. “In this way, employees from all of the Group’s companies will be systematically prepared for management tasks according to a Schunk standard, and developed into competent managers,” said Dr. Roth.
In addition, the Schunk Group’s Global Graduate Program prepares motivated university graduates with outstanding academic achievements for demanding international assignments within the Schunk Group.
When it comes to the strong level of competition for university graduates, the Schunk Group is breaking new ground in its recruiting practices. In 2017, the technology group hosted the internal university fair known as Campus@Schunk for the first time, allowing students to become familiar with career opportunities within the Schunk Group. The event included factory tours, lectures, a panel discussion and a presentation of the four divisions of the Schunk Group. Personnel department employees were strongly engaged with the students in an application review. “The first Campus@Schunk was a complete success,” said Dr. Roth in hindsight: well over 300 students accepted the invitation, some of them coming from afar.
The quality of the education of skilled workers has traditionally been very important to Schunk: in addition to an education center and regular in-house instruction and courses, project work and excursions ensure that the training is qualified and diverse. After successful completion, and once personal and professional suitability has been determined, the Schunk Group takes on its trainees for an indefinite period of time.
In 2018, the Schunk Group will introduce a wealth of innovations and technologies onto the market. One of these is the energy-saving Leading Energy Efficiency Footprint (LEEF) technology for environmental simulation. LEEF was jointly developed by German and American engineers especially for the American market and is used in climate chambers in which highly diverse products can be tested under different environmental conditions. Compared to conventional climate chambers, LEEF test chambers have up to 40 percent lower energy consumption, 60 percent faster temperature change rates and 70 percent improved accuracy for controlling temperature and humidity levels.
Another Schunk Group innovation offers considerable advantages to customers from the process industry: graphite rupture discs. Rupture discs are pressure relief devices that protect a vessel or system from overpressure or underpressure by bursting a one-time-use membrane. When using aggressive gases or liquids – for example in the petrochemical or pharmaceutical industries – the demands on rupture discs are very high. Such rupture discs are usually made of corrosion-resistant metal alloys. Thanks to its materials expertise, the Schunk Group has now developed rupture discs made of graphite that meet the highest demands. A coating of pyrolytic carbon makes these rupture discs more resistant, with up to twice as much temperature resistance and significantly higher corrosion stability compared to conventional products.
Declining growth in core markets
2018 promises to be a challenging year for Schunk, as growth rates in its two core markets – the automotive and rail industries – are predicted to decline. “However, we assume that the overall economic environment will not change much,” said Dr. Roth, with regard to the current financial year.
Schunk is therefore sticking to its medium-term goals. Up to this point, organic growth has turned out to be greater than planned. The Schunk Group is very particular in its acquisitions and strictly selects takeover candidates according to whether they strategically fit the company, said Dr. Roth. In 2017, the Schunk Group acquired 24% of the shares in KFE Kompetenzzentrum Fahrzeug Elektronik GmbH in Lippstadt. KFE conducts tests to develop electric mobility. “With this investment, we are strengthening the research and development activities of the Weiss Technik Division. Direct access to a user of our systems helps us to expand our innovative leadership,” Dr. Roth explained.