Stern-Wywiol Gruppe expanding, investing in future

by World Grain Staff
Share This:

HAMBURG, GERMANY — The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is still showing double-digit growth rates, and with over €365 million in sales in 2012 it achieved the highest turnover in its 33-year history, the company said on Feb. 11. 
Investments amounted to more than €22 million in 2012, mainly for the facilities in Ahrensburg and Wittenburg, Germany. The achievement of a second prize in the “Entrepreneur of the Year” competition was yet another acknowledgement of the group’s corporate strategy, the company said. 
Under the umbrella of the “Stern-Wywiol Gruppe,” 11 highly specialized companies develop, produce and market functional ingredients for the production of food and animal feed. Founded by Volkmar Wywiol 33 years ago as a one-man-show, the group of companies has since established itself as one of the major specialists in the global ingredients market and now employs a staff of 800 worldwide. 
As the chief executive officer, Torsten Wywiol manages the business of the holding company together with his father. He regards the structure of a family business, with the flexibility it permits, as an important competitive advantage. 
“Compared with the major corporations, we can respond to changing market conditions faster, with innovative products and services,” he said. 
In his opinion, the most significant guarantee of success is the unusual configuration of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe. 
“Each of our 11 independent firms have a profound knowledge of the industries they serve — for instance baking, dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, flavorings or vitamins; this also includes extensive applications technology and closeness to the customer,” Wywiol said. “We draw this competence in the different sectors of ingredients together through our holding company.” 
Stern-Wywiol Gruppe noted that its companies owe their high innovative power to an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge. To permit this, extensive applications development is carried out at the Technology Centre in Ahrensburg, Germany. The Research and Development department is the heart of the group, the company said. 
“There is scarcely an enterprise in Europe that has such a broad basis of applications technology. We develop solutions tailored exactly to the scale of the customer’s industrial production. To do that we have a wide range of specialist laboratories and pilot production lines,” said Torsten Wywiol, emphasizing the strong practical orientation of the development department. 
Last year, the research and development facilities were enlarged at a capital cost of €6 million. The area available for applications research was doubled, to the present 3,000 square meters. The investment included the latest equipment for rheological analysis and baking, an enlarged milling section, a pasta plant, laboratories for biotechnology and vitamin analysis, two laboratories for flavor analysis and a teaching room. In addition to all this, a sensory studio was opened to permit the tasting of products under professional, standardized conditions. 
At the production facility in Wittenburg, Germany, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe has expanded with a view to opening up new business fields in filling and compounding. In the course of the eighth phase of construction at a total capital cost of €16 million, a fluid bed processor was commissioned, which will permit contract manufacturing of new, functional products for the food and pharmaceutical industries. 
With an export ratio of 85%, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is well set up internationally. Thirteen foreign affiliates — including Russia, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, India, China and Brazil — manage and supply customers in over 100 countries. Last year the first branch in the U.S. opened its doors. 
Stern-Wywiol Gruppe again achieved one of the top places in the business competition “Entrepreneur of the Year.” In September 2012, Ernst & Young, which awards prizes in over 50 countries worldwide, acknowledged the entrepreneurial achievements of Torsten and Volkmar Wywiol with second place in the category “Industry.”