Stern Wyiol
Torsten Wywiol, left, and Matthias Moser, managing director of Hydrosol, seek inspiration from works of art in the Stern-Wywiol Gallery, in this case a sculpture by the artist Volker März. Art is a passion of the company’s founder, and the group runs the gallery for contemporary art.
Photo courtesy of Stern-Wywiol.
HAMBURG, GERMANY — For the first time in its history, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe achieved sales of more than half a billion euro in 2017.

Sales totaled €520 million ($612.5 million), up by €56 million, or 12%, from the previous year. The continuing positive development of the family business is due primarily to expansion of its international presence and intensive applications research, the company said. These also have led to the group being rated as one of Germany’s Top 20 most innovative medium-sized enterprises.

The group intends to invest a further €42 million in enlarging research and production capacities in Germany and abroad in the next two years. For the current year, the group is expecting a further increase in sales to about €570 million.

The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is made up of 12 independent specialist firms in Germany that develop, manufacture and distribute functional ingredients for the production of food and animal feed. They include companies such as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, SternVitamin, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, HERZA Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt.

All the companies’ activities revolve around applications research at the Stern-Technology Center “Futuremaker” in Ahrensburg, near Hamburg, where each of the specialist firms has access to the pooled knowledge and skills of the whole group. About 85% of the goods sold by the independently operating companies are exported to customers in more than 130 countries.

Torsten Wywiol, chief executive officer, has pushed ahead with a far-sighted strategy together with the managers of the individual companies. Last year, for example, a total of €20 million was invested in the enlargement of production capacities and the broad range of applications research.

Special emphasis was placed on extending the international network. New applications laboratories in Africa, Asia and America bring the employees even closer to their customers and are able to develop tailor-made solutions in cooperation with them on the spot, the company said.

“A management concept based on equality and flexible structures: these are what constitute the DNA of our group,” Wywiol said. “They are the source of the exceptional innovative power that distinguishes us from the major corporations in the international market for food and feed.”

This again is reflected in the current ranking published by the Munich Strategy Group and the business magazine “Wirtschaftswoche”: in 2017 they rated the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe as one of Germany’s 20 most innovative medium-sized enterprises.

“We need creativity, and we encourage it specifically,” Wywiol said.

It is not only the group structures that encourage creativity; it is also the passion of its founder, Volkmar Wywiol, for art.

Since 2012, the group of companies has run the Stern-Wywiol Gallery, a forum for contemporary art, at its headquarters by the Alster Lake in the center of Hamburg. The objective is to support young artists and inspire employees to view the world from a new angle.