First publishedin World Highways
Wirtgen brothers Jürgen and Stefan discussed growth opportunities
Jürgen Wirtgen and Stefan Wirtgen are joint presidents of the Wirtgen Group
and see business levels continuing to improve. Stefan said, “Generally speaking we are surprised with the growth levels, especially in the BRIC countries. It is giving us quite a big boost and is allowing us to grow. We are more than happy with 2011 so far as the order books are full and we didn’t expect this.”
The firm has invested heavily in recent years in its European manufacturing facilities, with new plants for the milling machines, asphalt pavers, compactors and crushing machines. In addition the company is also building a new factory in China to meet growing demand for the asphalt pavers, compactors and milling machines it produces at the site. Stefan said, “It’s become too small now so we’ve gone to a new greenfield site and built a new factory. We’ve doubled our turnover in China every year for the last three years.
Business volumes in the US are in better health too and Jürgen said that this market is now seeing steady recovery. He said, “We’re growing market share. The rental houses are
beginning to buy again and we are expecting a growth rate of a minimum of 25% in our business. The big growth is in compaction because the rental companies are starting to buy for the US market.” Despite the recent economic downturn, the Wirtgen Group has continued to invest and the firm has unveiled an array of innovative new products. Jürgen explained that this has resulted from the firm’s focus on providing solutions for its customers and said, “During the crisis we invested in research and development.”
One of the technical areas where the Wirtgen Group has invested is in its sophisticated road recycling concept. The company’s advanced cold recycling machine is an example of its array of sophisticated solutions for this sector and Jürgen said, “We see potential on specific projects. You can reduce the cost by 50% to rehabilitate road in times when there’s a need for repair. The potential is incredible. This is not just for low traffic density roads as we use it on highways also. We have sold five machines and highway authorities are becoming more open to this.”
Stefan added, “There is no other supplier in the world with a similar range of road recycling solutions so we are able to offer a package.” The company’s move into the US concrete slipforming market is another development of note, given that this is the market where the concept evolved and that there are strong US manufacturers already competing. To make sure the Wirtgen slipformers would appeal to US customers, considerable research and development was carried out and Stefan said, “These two machines have all the options and technical details to compete in the US and world markets.”
Jürgen added, “We can equip these machines with trimmers because this is standard in the US and the paving speed is much higher here so we had to redesign the machine. We spoke to US contractors to design the machine to their needs.”
The Wirtgen Group’s move into the US crushing equipment sector with Kleemann
will also add business volume and help grow this part of the group. Stefan said, “We are quite happy with the situation. We have a new facility and lots of production capacity, which is the basis for expansion.
Kleemann already has a good position in Central Europe and our target is to achieve the same in the global market.”
Jürgen: “Around 50% of our US dealers are already responsible for Kleemann and in the first three months we’ve already sold 20 units