August 6, 2019
STIWA CEOs Peter Sticht and Andreas Leobacher take a look back at a successful business year: The family-run company with its headquarters in Attnang-Puchheim, Austria achieved a turnover of EUR 267 million for the 2018/2019 financial year (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019). This constitutes an increase of 6 percent compared to the previous annual turnover of EUR 255 million. The number of employees jumped up to 2062 (as of June 30, 2019) with 95 percent of those employees working in Upper Austria.
“We are delighted that the 2018/2019 financial year was a success for the STIWA Group. As the leading specialist in the field of product and high-performance automation, high demand among our customers in the field of machine and system manufacturing has resulted in us achieving another fantastic result as far as our turnover is concerned. And that’s in the face of the seriously weakening economic climate and worsening uncertainty on the automotive market.”
Peter Sticht, CEO STIWA Holding GmbH
Having seen further economic growth, the company pushed forward with sizable investments into the Upper Austria sites exceeding EUR 57 million.
|Work on C Wing of the new, six-story office building is almost complete. The B Wing will also be extended so that it has six stories instead of four. The new office building is scheduled to be ready in the first quarter of 2020, boasting more than 600 modern workspaces.|
|Work to expand the new assembly hall and the three-story office wing in front of it in Attnang-Puchheim has already been completed. The first systems have now been installed in the new hall, with final completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019.|
|High technology made in Austria: As far as Supplier Production is concerned, around EUR 20 million was invested into a new assembly system for high-performance automation in Gampern in the 2018/19 financial year. This will be used to manufacture premium series-produced components for the automotive industry.|
|Production 4.0: A new punch press for the production of gear parts was purchased at a price of around EUR 5 million, with this investment being made in Gampern too. The design of the machine ensures that every step in the production process can be logged and analyzed with transparency. STIWA is once again demonstrating its leading position when it comes to digital, networked production processes.|
Further Increase (14%) in Number of Qualified Employees
Building on resources in Upper Austria is crucial to the STIWA Group’s success. This includes investments in buildings, systems, technology, and qualified employees. Boosting staff numbers at all sites was a key factor again last year, with a 14% increase being recorded in 2018/19 compared to the 2017/18 financial year. As of 07/01/2019, 2062 people worked at STIWA in total.
“The huge amount of investment we are pumping into our Upper Austria sites shows just how highly we value them. The need for fully integrated automation solutions is on the rise all around the world. As a specialist in high-performance automation that builds systems and uses them in its production processes as well as developing software with a view to increasing productivity, we supply all-in-one solutions. We want to hold on to and build upon this position.”
Dr. Andreas Leobacher, CEO STIWA Holding GmbH
Trade Conflict Puts Global Economic Growth at Risk
The past financial year proved to be challenging for many companies within the automotive sector. The trade dispute between the USA and China, including the threat of tariffs of 25% extending to automotive imports, has put a major strain on the entire supplier industry. And the tariffs aren’t even the biggest problem to worry about. The trade conflict has caused uncertainty to arise beyond the automotive sector, currently negatively impacting upon the entire global economy. According to the view of one of the world’s leading credit insurance providers, if the trade conflict escalates further, the gross world product will drop by two percentage points over the next two years. The inability to make plans is the main reason for losses and declines, as can be seen in three different avenues: Company investments are being put on hold, consumption is slowing, and purchases are being pushed back. Then add high stock levels on top of all that.
“We are most definitely witnessing these developments here at the STIWA Group too. China is an extremely important growth market for us,” says Sticht. “The number of projects we currently have underway is steady. But we are seeing the demand for new projects drop further and further, especially within the automotive sector. Agreed projects are being pushed back in that field at the moment. Plus, the time has come for the phase of real prosperity and strong growth to come to an end. I would say we can expect another economic slowdown or a period of normalization.”
Uncertainty Within the Automotive Industry Results in Drop in Sales Globally
Equally, the ongoing discussions and debates surrounding diesel limits, new engine formats, emission measurement systems and CO2 limits for Europe, threats of fines for car manufacturers, and driving bans are causing a great deal of uncertainty across the entire automotive sector.
As a supplier of one of the world’s leading car manufacturers, specializing in automation and producing high-performance assembly machines, the automotive industry has a huge impact on STIWA’s turnover. “We are witnessing the current developments within the automotive sector up close and personal—as are all other suppliers. The uncertainty prevailing within the automotive sector at the moment has had a clear impact on STIWA’s Supplier Production business unit in Gampern too over the past financial year: “We have seen a decline in the number of orders for transmission components. Despite all the issues surrounding the internal combustion engine, we are seeing progress in digitalization within vehicles. New developments such as sensors for driver assistance systems and autonomous driving are of huge significance for us right now,” says Sticht.
Future Projections Become More Precarious
It’s still hard to predict what impact all of the debates are going to have during the current financial year. “We are staying in close contact with our partners so that we are in a position to quickly react to changes on the market through our products. The automotive industry is set to keep on developing whatever happens, with a focus on e‑mobility, exhaust gases, and climate protection. It is vital that we approach potential transformation processes in a calm manner, taking all aspects into account and acting with the necessary foresight. The EU largely follows the lead of the USA and China here. But it is going to be necessary for Europe to take a stronger, more independent stance in the future,” says Sticht.
The STIWA Group has built several new international sites over the last few years. The company followed its A‑customers into new markets in order to provide local support and to enable mutual growth. This strategy created new jobs in all the business units, safeguarding the company’s sites in Upper Austria. The STIWA Group is currently running sites in Nantong in China, the USA, and Germany.
Growth Through New Customers
With uncertainty prevailing at the moment, the STIWA Group is responding to changes in the market conditions. “This means that we are also looking to gain new partners and customers locally at all of our international sites,” says Leobacher.
STIWA’s main location overseas is China. Growth may have slowed down there for now, but it still stands at 15–20%. In the 2018/2019 financial year, the number of employees increased from 74 to more than 100. Back in 2017, an internal Machining division was introduced there. Going forward, machining parts will no longer only be produced for internal system manufacturing. The high demand for high-quality production components now means that they will also be produced for the Chinese market. There is no denying that demand is high, with a German, Scottish, and Japanese company already having expressed their interest over there.
The STIWA Group has got off to a successful start in Germany too. The office in Wilnsdorf (North-Rhine Westphalia) has already seen positive results after just two years. We have successfully implemented our first automation project with an internationally renowned manufacturer of writing utensils. Our plan now is to add to our pool of local customers over the coming years. STIWA Deutschland GmbH intends to develop its site as well as its capacities along the way too.
Partnerships to action innovative new product ideas
Forming new partnerships opens up opportunities for new products and, in turn, markets. STIWA is currently adding to its product portfolio by joining forces with partner companies. This arrangement sees STIWA working in close contact with partners so that they can develop new products together and ultimately bring them to the market in series production. What STIWA brings to the table is its expertise in the core areas of industrial production, product development, and transition to series production.
The automotive sector will continue to be hugely important for the STIWA Group going forward. As the company continues to evolve, the focus will still be on new customers, partnerships, markets, and products. “Our aim here is to position ourselves even more broadly in the future and ensure that we can cope with any uncertainty within the automotive sector,” says Leobacher.
Automation technology, and the associated increase in the speed, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of production, will continue to be the main trend dominating the industry going forward and give the company a clear competitive edge. “We are all set for the future and plan to approach the next financial year with optimism and the necessary foresight,” says Sticht.
The STIWA Group will be celebrating a special anniversary in September 2019, as it has been training apprentices since 1979. For many of these 40 years, the company has been making use of its very own training center in Attnang-Puchheim. This is why the intake of apprentices at the company has continued to rise. This year, over 50 more young people will enroll on a STIWA apprenticeship. As of fall 2018, 170 apprentices will be undergoing training at STIWA. During the last financial year, an apprenticeship program based on the Austrian model was introduced in China too. Another six apprentices will be starting their training with STIWA in Nantong this year—as was the case in fall 2018 too.
In total, the STIWA Group has trained more than 700 young people up to specialist level. Around 60 percent of those apprentices have continued working for STIWA—some in managerial roles.
“As one of the major training companies in Upper Austria, it is important to us that we adopt a modern approach to training up apprentices. With demands in automation constantly growing, we need specialists who have undergone training at an exceptionally high level. Plus, the need for young creative minds who can keep things moving with innovative developments in automation technology is constantly reaching an all-time high. The key here is to train up highly qualified specialists. We are proud to have made a crucial contribution to the technological advancement of our industrial center by training up apprentices over the past 40 years,” says Sticht.