Gerd Finkbeiner, Chairman of the MAN Roland's Board Comments on Recent News
Press release from the issuing company
December 17, 2004 -- (WTT EDITOR'S NOTE: The below is from a recent interview with Gerd Finkbeiner, Chairman of the MAN Roland's Board that was sent to industry media worldwide by MAN. Some of the statements cover recent news about the company and we believe many of the comments were newsworthy.)
Question: MAN Roland has come through some fairly turbulent weeks – getting the large News order on the one hand, and on the other implementing a package of cost-saving measures on the personnel side. How are these two events affecting each other?
Gerd Finkbeiner: Turbulent is the right word. Of course, we’re happy about the solid capacity utilization we’re now enjoying. But this doesn’t only include the News International order. It’s also the abundance of new orders we’ve received over the past few weeks in all three of our product ranges, meaning newspaper, commercial, and sheetfed presses.
And this, even looking at the poor revenue situation in our market alone, has a great deal to do with the agreements we’ve reached regarding personnel. Our package of cost-saving measures is nothing less than a fundamental prerequisite that will allow us to make a profit from our existing order volume. Take just the cost reduction measures: together with the ongoing structural changes we’ve made to streamline our production facilities, they’re enabling our sheetfed press sector in Offenbach, which has been in the red, to start turning a profit again. Moreover, all these measures have been instrumental in making us an attractive supplier to our customers as we compete in the market, and has generated new business.
Question: But without glossing things over, the agreed package of cost-saving measures contains a number of restrictions. How will these affect the working atmosphere among employees?
Gerd Finkbeiner: Our employees are well aware of what’s at stake. We’ve discussed this in detail with them for quite a long time. It’s true that negotiating with intelligent partners over these types of issues is hard, and sometimes takes you to the edge of what’s doable. But in the end we achieved level-headed results that everyone can be satisfied with.
It’s certainly not in management’s interest to endanger motivation, which we value so highly, by trying to implement measures that can’t be achieved, especially since that motivation is one of our fundamental strengths behind an outstanding product. We know that only highly motivated employees are capable of optimum performance. But one
thing has changed: the dramatic evolution of the general conditions in our business has meant a redefining of job security. And this goes hand-in-hand with an understanding of the increased demands in work performance, the kind of performance that will keep us competitive at an international level.
Question: Nevertheless, you’ll first have to get a grip on the enormous order News has placed, won’t you?
Gerd Finkbeiner: That’s what it may look like to an observer on the outside. But this order, like any other, didn’t come out of nowhere. It was preceded by a long opening phase. Sure, you’ve only got the order once you’ve got the signature. But we had, and still have, enough time to prepare for both possible scenarios. It’s simply being professional to be able to adequately react to both – the booked order as well as the possibility of a lost order. Add to this the fact that the News order can’t be processed over night. We have four years to work through the task. Also, our capacities are now set up for this order situation. We’re not operating in a state of emergency, we’re not even close to our limits, and we have enough capacity for any other additional project.
Question: With such an important customer, won’t customers with smaller order volumes fear being relegated to a back row seat?
Gerd Finkbeiner: That would show a lack of professionalism on our side, and would be downright dumb, particularly since the News order affects only one of our three product sectors. You have to see the whole picture. Any healthy company lives only from a multitude and variety of customers and orders. After all, even large orders are processed and come to an end. And then, if we’re not careful, what happens? This is my conviction and my pledge: all of our customers, today and tomorrow, can rest assured that all their needs are important to us. We always have enough qualified employees wherever they’re needed.
Question: Right now, however, orders are not distributed equally among all the production facilities. Isn’t this creating an imbalance regarding capacity utilization and allocation of resources?
Gerd Finkbeiner: Again, it would be easy to assume so. But we’re an extremely modern operation, and even at our size, we’re capable of reacting very quickly and flexibly in our entirety to any challenge. How we’re able to do this is simple: our staff is highly qualified and flexible, capable of moving between the newspaper and commercial sectors. The same applies to temporary contracted employees. In addition, joint production between our web offset facilities in Augsburg and Plauen couldn’t be
Question: An industrial corporation is nevertheless a highly complex entity. Aren’t there any bottlenecks in one sector or the other?
Gerd Finkbeiner: We’ve seen to that and over the past years we’ve invested a great deal of effort in avoiding that kind of situation. Design and production, just like production and assembly, interact seamlessly. This is ensured by our equipment, machines that are state-of-the-art and capable of upgrades in the future. All our processes are optimized. Our procurement department plans with foresight to ensure that delivery and commissioning go like clockwork. Our customers confirm this strength time and again.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.