Amidst the positive mood at EUROGUSS 2022, we met WINOA's European CEO Falko Schmidt at his company's spacious stand. Schmidt makes it quite clear that WINOA has used the challenges posed by the pandemic to set a course and that the blasting agent manufacturer is also well prepared for the other challenges. Thank you for being at our disposal Falko Schmidt.
FP: Falko Schmidt, we are currently experiencing a time that is unbeatable in terms of challenges. COVID-19, war in Europe, transformation, disrupted supply chains and inflation, to name just the most important ones, how does this affect your company's growth strategy?
F. Schmidt: Indeed, times are challenging and literally every corner of the economy, the political system and societies are affected by the current situation. At WINOA we actively search for opportunities in every situation. That’s why we used the time during the peak of COVID-19 to realign, restructure and reposition the WINOA Group and consequently developed our Strategy, leading to Growth until 2025. From the beginning, the thought process considered different scenarios, optimistic and pessimistic, to achieve our targets. I would say SPEED, EMPOWERMENT of the teams and clear COMMUNICATION are key success factors not to lose track in an environment we are currently operating in. We are fully committed to deliver what is promised to our customers. For example, our teams need fast decision taking processes on all levels in order to adopt to low planning visibility and instabilities arising from the current supply chain interruptions and unavailability of selected raw materials. Every member of the WINOA family needs to understand what his / her responsibility and stake within our Strategy is. That’s why we continuously inform and involve our teams. It is important for us in the Executive Team to explain what we mean and what we expect, to give you more examples. This approach, along with a team of absolute experts is leading to the fact that I am optimistic that we will deliver our Growth targets, even though the path towards success may differ from the original plan.
FP: As a result of the transformation pressure in mobility, lightweight products and electric cars are becoming even more important, what does this mean for your offers and services?
F. Schmidt: As part of our Growth Strategy, we are focusing on the further development of our STELUX stainless-steel blast media product in order to address the needs of customers active in business areas targeting lightweight products. Originally developed a few years ago, we invested significantly in our production capacities, technology and product quality to deliver abrasive products with state-of-the-art capabilities.
When it comes to eMobility, our approach is also to deliver additional services to existing and new customers on top of our high quality and efficient abrasive products. In other words, we want to deliver SOLUTIONS, not only stand-alone products. Our Vision is to be the leading partner to our clients with innovative and ECO-friendly surface preparation products, solution and services. In order to achieve this, it is important to understand what problems our customers have. This is where WINOA’s world-wide operating Application Expert team is entering the stage. Together with a set of WINOA self-developed professional tools, we are in the position to offer these services to our customers
FP: We hear that at Winoa you provide a service package called W Care, what are the advantages for your customers?
F. Schmidt: Providing additional services on top of our abrasive products was always part of WINOA’s offer. Now is the time to develop the original idea further and to create different levels of services for our customers, depending on their needs, capabilities and goals. This family of custom-made services / levels that we have brought together is under our new service brand: WCare™. WCare™ shows that we are capable to provide our customers with one-stop shop solutions. We analyze the initial status, we optimize the blasting process and carry out maintenance and repair services, including the delivery of spare parts. Especially in the important analysis phase, we use the WINOA Application Expert team, including our own set of specialized tools. In later stages, we cooperate with partners to execute special tasks. WINOA is always coordinating the whole process until the final solution. The big advantage for the customer here is also that, as a producer of abrasive products, we can optimize and change the products used according to the results of the optimization process, if needed. All in all, WCare shows that WINOA is already today much more than a producer of abrasive products. We care about surface preparation.
FP: You are planning a new Winoa Technical Centre in Eastern Europe, what can you share and what will you be researching there?
F. Schmidt: WINOA operates its own Tech Centers world-wide. In Europe we have already one Tech Center collocated with our biggest plant in Le Cheylas, France. With the help of our Tech Centers, we develop new products in a defined environment, we carry out specifically designed application tests, together with our customers to analyze chemistry, quality and characteristics of corresponding products. The big advantage here is the possibility of changing products or product mixes literally "instantly", while the customers are on our site, without the risk of interrupting their production line! This makes testing very efficient. In order to reflect also the increased demand for services in engineering, application trials and digital tools, we have decided to establish a second Tech Center in the Czech Republic, Prague area. This Tech Center will be an important pillar of our Growth Strategy. Further to the already mentioned services, a special focus will be placed on product development and application trials for our W Abrasives Stelux™ stainless-steel product.
Thank you for the talk, we wish you a successful EUROGUSS 2022