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Ziehl-Abegg reports record sales of 716 million euros

KÜNZELSAU, Germany, 31 March 2022: Ziehl-Abegg reported record sales of 716 million euros in 2021, compared to 639 million euros in 2020. Making the announcement through a Press release, the manufacturer of electric motors and fans said the figure posted in 2021 represented a growth of 11.9%. 

The PCB manufacturing process at Ziehl-Abegg is an example of vertical integration at the company. Evelin Fazekas assembles a PCB for an EC motor

Peter Fenkl, CEO, Ziehl-Abegg, describing 2021, said, “In view of the problems with global supply chains, we took a cautious approach at times and, ultimately, managed to do pretty well in terms of sales.”

The company said it was equally heartening that the number of employees worldwide rose to 4,700, compared to 4,300 in 2020. 

Fenkl described the earnings situation as “more than difficult”, as the supply chain problems not only had an impact on delivery times but on pricing, as well. “Some suppliers had already increased prices so quickly towards the end of 2020 and then repeatedly in 2021 that we were unable to pass these on to the market on a 1:1 basis,” he said.

Based on the experience in the first quarter, the manager knows that this situation will become more acute in the current year. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Fenkl said. It is relevant to highlight that Fenkl has been at the helm of the family-owned business for more than 20 years. 

Ziehl-Abegg said it is regarded as a company with a high level of vertical integration. “We now want to expand this even further,” Fenkl said. However, growth at the headquarters in Hohenlohe is problematical, as there is a serious shortage in the availability of the necessary additional workers there, the company said.

The intention, therefore, is to expand existing production facilities and establish new production sites, it added. Fenkl said: “Additional production sites will bring us closer to our customers.” 

Thomas Späth assembles a fan at the Ziehl-Abegg production site in southern Germany

The company said the 11.9% growth in sales last year provides a good base for further growth. Ventilation systems were the sales driver in the year just past, contributing EUR 637 million to the overall result, the company said.

Fenkl said he held no illusions about the challenges that lie ahead. “Work shifts are currently being repeatedly cancelled because of a lack of components – how can you realistically plan and how are you supposed to satisfy your customers?” he said.  

Ziehl-Abegg employs 2,600 people in Germany, 200 more than a year ago. The number of employees worldwide rose from 4,300 to 4,700. Since employees of the baby boom era in Germany are now increasingly reaching retirement age, this is having a direct impact on the available workforce potential. “Companies must, therefore, openly target Generation Z, the post-millennials,” Fenkl said. “We mustn’t persist with old ways of thinking but instead take the wishes and needs of young people seriously.” 

Ziehl-Abegg invests €36 mn in expanding its facilities

KÜNZELSAU, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, 4 August 2021: “The world’s markets will continue to need high-quality electric motors and fans in the future,” said Peter Fenkl, CEO, Ziehl-Abegg, explaining why the company invested €16 million euros in the expansion of its production buildings at the Kupferzell site in the middle of the pandemic. This, he added, will be followed by a further €20 million for machinery. Dr Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Minister of Economic Affairs, Baden-Württemberg, added: “With the new building, the company is further expanding its high degree of vertical manufacture and the resilience of the supply chains here at the site, whilst also securing valuable jobs both within and beyond the region.”

Peter Fenkl shows Dr Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut how fans for data centres and hospitals are assembled

Fenkl described how, in the early summer of 2020, many economic decision-makers were in shock due to the pandemic. “No-one knew what was coming next – and that’s when we started our current construction project,” he recalled. “The year 2020 resembled a rollercoaster ride – rapidly alternating between border closures, interruptions to material supplies, falling sales and rising orders. Thanks to the commitment of each and every one of the employees, the company still succeeded in posting an increase in sales at the end of the year – followed by an order intake that exceeded all previous records.”

Referring to the new building, he said, “So we’re now glad that we’ve already created more space for rapid growth.” New machines and systems that had already been ordered in spring 2020, will be arriving on a weekly basis, he said, adding that the building is also intended to create an additional 180 jobs.

The new building will result in an additional 8,700 square metres for manufacturing state-of-the-art generation of energy-efficient electric motors, the company said. “The durable and efficient electric motor has been our core area of expertise for more than 100 years,” Fenkl said, adding that the company is a technology leader in the design of fans based on the concept of biomimetics. “However, since many geometries offering perfect aerodynamics cannot be implemented in steel or aluminum, we are expanding the area of composite materials,” he said. “It is essential for us to have more space for additional injection-moulding machines for composite materials.”

Ziehl-Abegg, he said, is expanding its production facilities worldwide or optimising existing plants – in Schöntal-Bieringen, where the aluminium casting operation is based, and in America and Asia. “Corona,” he said, “has shown that we have to consider very carefully how we can design our production facilities in a way that enables us to satisfy the needs of the market to optimum effect.”

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