The world of mechanical engineering, especially in the automotive industry, has changed rapidly in recent years. How did you assess this development and how did GROB respond to it?
At GROB, we have coped well with the paradigm shift in the automotive industry. With our high level of expertise in mechanical engineering, but also with our many years of experience, we were able to manage this transformation process well. It was also fascinating to see how our employees rose to meet this new challenge, quickly learning from it and thus making the start of the electromobility age possible. This lived speed of adaptation and positive mentality is a trademark of our company and is particularly well illustrated by the numerous innovations of recent years. In mechanical engineering in particular, there are increasingly rapid changes that lead to new innovations, which we have to face accordingly. GROB has always been very dynamic, and we have traditionally never given up. Whether in the change from the transfer line to the G-module or now towards electromobility. Our path — which was in part quite bumpy in the beginning — had always been very successful.
In addition to the paradigm shift in the automotive industry, companies must deal with disrupted supply chains, disproportionately rising energy costs, inflation and corona-related impacts. How can GROB respond to these challenges?
GROB dealt with the new issues of the automotive industry at a very early stage and responded to them with the foresight of a family-owned company. In this context, our great advantage was and is that the paths between the management and the family are very short and allow for quick reactions. We also reacted quickly in terms of energy costs and took appropriate safeguarding measures. For example, the decision was made some time ago to obtain oil tanks to prevent a possible supply shortage during the winter months. We are affected by inflation just like any other company. It is not easy to pass on increased costs, and future developments are difficult to predict when calculating new projects from today's perspective. Of course, Corona also hit our company, but fortunately we got off lightly. At least we were able to work full time. Likewise, issues concerning supply chains hit us as we also struggle with material supply. The advantage here at GROB is that we maintain close communication with our long-standing partners and are in daily exchange with them to ensure adequate material supplies for production. In summary, however, it can be said that GROB is well equipped to meet these challenges and is excellently positioned for the future.
GROB has excellently managed the transition from machining to electromobility. What is the secret of this success?
We have always communicated clearly that we, as a family business, stand by our employees and want to train them accordingly if necessary. In addition, we have always kept them informed of new, further developments as far as possible at works meetings, etc. By involving our employees in this way, we have succeeded in creating a good basis of trust within the company. Thus, great confidence in the necessary change and the realization that our way is also the right one emerged from the personal perception. Other key criteria, in addition to bringing the team along and honest, open communication, were the motivation of each individual to help shape and create the change toward electromobility.
GROB is currently investing at almost all of its locations and is building a new plant in India. How can GROB meet these enormous financial challenges?
Our family has a traditional commitment to the company and always reinvests its profits. This was the only way to map the change and growth in the company. Moreover, this philosophy has also enabled us to build up a great deal of trust over the years with our long-term financing partners who support us in these extensive investment projects, which would not have been possible in this style as a stock corporation.
They now represent GROB in the fourth generation and have already been involved in all important corporate decisions for several years. Have you set specific goals yet, and if so, what do they look like?
Of course, the continued solid development of the GROB company is my primary focus for me. But issues like sustainability and the environment are also important to me. However, I very much associate sustainability with environmental, societal and social sustainability. In the end, there is no point in making decisions without employees wanting to go along for the ride. For example, without social sustainability in the company, we would not have been able to implement the transformation process so quickly and successfully. Here it was easy to see how important it was for employees to stand by the company and the family, and also to have the necessary trust in the family to make the right decisions. This leads to economic sustainability and a sustainable business model with high future viability for our company. Another topic is digitization in the company to make work more efficient. To create work and a work environment in such a way that it is limited to the activities that are important on a daily basis. For me, not only one thing has to fit at GROB, but the sum of all company parameters has to be coherent.
In recent years, GROB has developed strongly as a company under its own steam and financed the necessary investments from its own returns. How long do you think a family business can keep this up?
For us, there is no other way and we have to make it work. Just as we have always been independent in our almost 100-year history. Family-operated businesses have learned to deal with the limited resources available. That is our only option, to determine for ourselves the paths we want to take. To be self-critical and then act accordingly. We have traditionally grown with our highly competitive products and we intend to continue doing so in the future.
Thank you for the conversation.