Torsten Wywiol, chief executive officer of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe.
This year, 34 companies reached the finals of the multi-stage competition. From this group of finalists, an independent jury selected the winners of the coveted title. In the category Consumer Products and Retail, the award went to Wywiol, who built his group of 12 independent specialist companies into an international ingredients manufacturer and innovator in the food industry.
The “Entrepreneur of the Year” award acknowledges outstanding achievements in over 60 countries. In 2016 the award was granted for the 20th time in Germany to entrepreneurs who achieve top performance and regularly bring about innovations. At the same time they must attach importance to fair treatment of employees and contribute to solving social problems.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is made up of 12 independent specialist companies in Germany that manufacture and market functional ingredients for the production of food and feed. They include such internationally renowned firms as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, SternVitamin, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, HERZA Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt. Each individual company has competence in a specific field, for example in baked foods, dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, chocolate, flavorings, lecithins, enzymes and vitamins. Their customers include industrial bakeries, dairies, producers of food and sugar confectionery, and also manufacturers of animal feed in 136 countries.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe already has developed approximately 1,500 base materials from which the group continuously creates and manufactures new ingredients and raw products that give industrially produced foods a longer shelf life and make them healthier and more nutritious. This is done in close cooperation with the customer, but above all it is made possible by the flexible structures of the enterprise: the group’s “Network of Excellence” offers a platform for the development of customized products by the specialist companies. The constant exchange of information between all the food experts stimulates creativity and promotes the emergence of new formulations. In an area of 3,000 square meters at the group’s own Stern-Technology Center, ingredients are mixed, stirred, baked or boiled in various pilot production units. About 15% of the employees are engaged in developing and optimizing food ingredients.
“It is here that all the firms specializing in different industries have access to the pooled knowledge and skills of the whole group,” Wywiol said. “We make an important contribution to human nutrition around the globe.”
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe was founded by Wywiol’s father Volkmar Wywiol in Hamburg in 1980. Through the acquisition of small companies, but above all through its own development, the single enterprise grew into a group of firms that now employs a staff of over 1,000 worldwide and achieves an annual turnover of €450 million. Today, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe not only supplies ingredients, it also offers intermediate products to industrial bakeries, dairies, and manufacturers of food and confectionery.
Wywiol has considerably increased the group’s turnover and forged ahead with its internationalization, the company said. With 15 affiliates abroad, in the world’s key markets, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe has established a sound basis for further growth.
“In most of the markets where our group operates, it holds a leading position or offers the best quality,” Wywiol said, including in flour treatment and flour improvement, and the enzymes for food and animal nutrition.
“Being a family business we have the advantage of short routes; we can respond faster to customers’ wishes and make quick decisions,” Wywiol said. “A large proportion of our profits is invested in training our employees. They can plan plenty of scope and freedom into their daily activities and expect responsibility. As a company operating outside the structures of the big multicorporate enterprises, we regard our independence as almost sacred. That has always enabled us to be a little different from the rest. A bit unconventional, sometimes — but all the more creative and successful.”