“If anyone had told my father during the first few years of his business career that his company would have operations abroad, he would probably have laughed incredulously”, are words found in the memoirs of Carl Haver jun. (1884 – 1976), written by company founder Carl Haver’s son in the 1960s. Haver senior and his cousin, Eduard Boecker, founded their company, Haver & Boecker, in Märkisch county’s Hohenlimburg, then the centre of German wire drawing and weaving, on August 25, 1887. Their initial output consisted of wire gauze for miners’ lamps. A subsequent successful product took the form of closures for cement bags.
Rethinking was necessary as the bag types customary nowadays were gradually developed. A decision was promptly made – licenses for packing machines for the new bags were acquired, and development in this field continued. In 2012, Haver & Boecker is marking its 125th anniversary with a celebratory ceremony, an open-day at the wire-weaving plant, and several supporting events. The “Haver Technology Days” also took place at the mechanical engineering plant following the company’s “birthday festivities”. ZKG INTERNATIONAL spoke to Dr. Reinhold Festge, managing shareholder of Haver & Boecker.
ZKG: Haver & Boecker can look back on 125 years of corporate history. What was and is the secret of your success?
Reinhold Festge: Forward-looking decisions and flexibility are – and have always been – the basis for our actions. A review of Haver & Boecker’s history will show that only the founder himself managed the company for less than twenty-five years. The last three generations have each had up to fifty years to guide company for tunes, and this fact has resulted in sustained and stable development. Our company has always possessed the ability to identify and respond to industry trends, this contributed to its success even in the early days. There is scarcely any comparison between the wire-weaving division then and now, however. Today, it is an ultra-modern company, with a broad and highly technical range of products, extending from automotive industry applications up to space technology. And we aim, in the future, too, to remain a premium, rather than a mass, producer.
ZKG: How do you intend to ensure positive trends in the future?
Reinhold Festge: Customer bonding and close market orientation are extremely important factors for us. We achieve them via our branches in the various countries and on the various continents. We also develop market-specific products, of course – we are currently engaged in the development of modern logistics systems for India and China, for example. And all of them premium products! Both of these countries will soon be obliged to automate, and our aim is to be there, first in line. We now have more than fifty subsidiaries, and they provide us locally with an extremely good understanding of our customers’ needs. We have also achieved very good market positioning in Brazil, with a share of 98 %. In India, we’re not yet quite that far, but we intend to secure our share of the market there, and supply solutions that others cannot provide so quickly and with our quality. At present, many producers tend to be “volume suppliers” so to speak. Experience has shown that every developing country decides, after a certain time, to also make high-quality products and to improve efficiency.
ZKG: How, and where, do you perceive the future trend?
Reinhold Festge: We intend to accelerate our new developments, in the field of preparation technology products, for example. We are currently entering totally new areas, in the form of pelletising and cleaning of contaminated feed materials. We received our first research commission from Siemens for further development of pelletising technology not long ago. We will also soon have new solutions for specific markets, and new products, in packaging technology. We are intensifying our commitment in the foodstuffs industry, but we will also continue expanding our existing market segments and shares. In our experience, customers who buy Haver & Boecker want H&B, so it’s no use trying to sell cheaper, lower-quality products which don’t meet customers’ requirements as well as the premium product.
ZKG: How do you integrate customers’ wishes into technological developments?
Reinhold Festge: Our motto is always: “With the customer, for the customer”. The ADAMS® is the showpiece example of this. The need for a water-resistant, outdoor-storable bag was fulfilled in co-operation with Lafarge England – something virtually inconceivable for cement at that time. We needed a development period of three to four years, to analyse with the customer what was possible, and during this time we developed for the customer the machines that are now also available for use by other interested parties and in other sectors. Mechanical screens for oil sands are another example – equitable partnerships and joint process solutions are the answer!
We also continue development without direct impulses from customers, however, in order to be sure of meeting the customer requirements of the future. We have invested a lot of money in developing a new scale and an electronic weighing system, with the aim, however, more of achieving a “leaner” process chain and incorporating more convenience and “smartness” in system technology.
ZKG: Would you be able, in principle, to cover the complete logistics chain from the cement grinding plant onward?
Reinhold Festge: Yes, and that is also our new strategy. We are now well positioned to implement EPC projects for our customers. The Haver & Boecker group has, for example, now constructed the first fully automated shipment terminal in Malmö, via IBAU HAMBURG. Not a single worker is needed to operate it. And these are solutions in which the technology is reliably and permanently available; Haver & Boecker developed the facility’s control system for IBAU HAMBURG.
The new technological potentials have now even resulted in people who previously had no access to the industry considering the construction of cement plants – they have the money, but not the specialist knowledge. For these cases, we co-operate with a large equipment supplier from the region and bid for construction of the plant and its operation for example for the first five years. And we are also ready and able to develop operator models for plants together with the customer, if desired.
ZKG: How does the future look at Haver & Boecker?
Reinhold Festge: With Haver & Tyler, the company has taken up a position for joint development and servicing of supra-industry markets. Haver & Tyler is made up of Haver Niagara GmbH, a now independent division in Münster, Haver & Boecker Latinoamericana, in Brazil, and W.S. Tyler, in Canada. We also only recently further expanded the Haver group, the contract was signed in Paris on May 29, 2012 for purchase by Haver & Boecker Holding GmbH of 100 % of the shares in Newtec Bag Palletizing from Newtec International Group S.A.S. Together with IBAU HAMBURG, Feige Filling and Behn + Bates, we can now supply complete storage, packing and shipment systems for bulk products and liquids at premium quality from a single source. With this reinforcement, the Haver & Boecker Group now feels it is well equipped to increase the market shares especially in India with European quality products. On August 25, 2012, my sons, Florian Festge and Dr. Fabian Festge, together with my partner Walter Haver’s children, will be inducted into the company team as partners. They’re already involved in important decisions even now, however, and some time in the future, they’ll have to take them alone.
ZKG: Congratulations on your company anniversary, and sincere thanks for this interview.