Röchling and its discussion culture
Sven Arnold (Photo: PIE)
This time, only the boss and the person responsible for finance are sitting at the head of the table. There is no plastics expert present – neither the two division managers, after the departure of Automotive manager Erwin Doll, nor the new chief information and digital officer, who is evidently getting things moving behind the scenes.

This alone is new compared with the father of the plastics strategy, Georg Duffner, and his interim successor Ludger Bartels, indicating a change in the discussion culture. Whether this has its origins exclusively in the new man at the top of operations, or whether it can also be traced back to the advisory board was not exactly made clear during the press conference in Mannheim / Germany.

Nevertheless, Duffner – who in the 2000s fully aligned Röchling, a family company, to the field of plastics and in return sold off steel interests such as Rheinmetall, telecommunications company DeTeWe and the franking machine specialist Francotyp-Postalia – has been on the advisory board since 2016. It is difficult to believe that it was he who initiated this new counterculture, not only towards automotive supply but also towards plastics.

This, after all, is perhaps the most important statement to come from Hanns-Peter Knaebel at the Mannheim headquarters, “We must take an interest in other materials, in combination with plastics.” What he means is metal, also coatings, and perhaps ceramics. Is that the answer to the question, “How must we position ourselves in order to continue being an important supplier tomorrow?” Automotive has evidently come to the end of its life as a driving force and major source of revenue for Röchling. For some years now, it has been working on building up medical technology as a counterweight – but without really achieving this target yet.

The new corporate culture is also expressed in its new logo – with three daring-looking dots above the "o" in order to symbolise the three roses from the original emblem. People have lived for years from the Röchling spirit, says Knaebel, and what is important has now been reformulated. He failed to mention exactly what that is, as did Evelyn Thome, who wants to increase the group's financial flexibility for new things. But perhaps the time for a new direction has really come, ten years after the end of the metal age.

Sven Arnold
KI Group Deputy Editor in Chief
31.05.2019 Plasteurope.com [242585-0]
Published on 31.05.2019

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