Issue Issue 2 2008
Knuth’s tools for growth
Knuth is a family owned company that manufactures and distributes high quality machine tools to a variety of industry sectors.
Founded in 1923 in Wasbek, Germany, it currently employs 400 people across a number of sites around the world. That figure is set to rise with offices in Dubai and Sao Paulo set to open over the next few months, and aspirations to continue its expansion for the foreseeable future. As part of the marketing scheme to raise awareness of the Knuth brand, the company will be attending over 50 trade fairs to showcase its vast array of products – the breadth of which is arguably unrivalled.
Explaining the advantages of the shows, Angus Catterson, the group’s managing director in the United States, says: “It is a very important and effective way to for us to become established in new markets and to attract new clientele – it is often the key starting point when we are entering a new territory. Most of our business comes from catalogue sales, but by attending one of these events there is the opportunity to see the machines and their quality in person.”
With Knuth scheduled to attend fairs in a number of destinations including Delhi, Bari, Cairo and Los Angeles, over the coming months, the opportunity to do just that has never been greater. Amongst the machinery on show will be two of the most recent designs – the GPlus 450 and an updated Matrix milling machine, which has increased speed capabilities – that the organisation has high hopes for. “The GPlus is a Windows based CNC control system for a variety of machine tools. It’s very powerful and extremely easy to use, it makes programming faster. Because of the faster calculation time, the quality of the finish is also superior compared to the older controls,” says Angus.
They join an already impressive product portfolio that contains machines for cutting and eroding, milling and drilling, tube processing and sheet metal working, as well as saws, grinders and other accessories and tools. Their excellent quality and levels of efficiency are best illustrated by an impressive list of customers that includes business heavyweights in a variety of sectors, such as Hugo Boss, Phillips, Mercedes Benz, Motorola, Sauer+Son, and Hamburg Airport.
But what else makes Knuth the company of choice for so many of the world’s top businesses? “I would say it is our global reach,” says Angus. “Because of the variety of our range, we can work with a number of clients on a worldwide basis. We are able to provide all of their machine tool needs and requirements, which is the key reason why a number of them choose us. There is a lot of competition in this industry but very few of them have the reach that we do. In terms of machine tools, the number we produce is almost unmatched – that really sets us apart,” he comments.
As well as an operation that reaches far ans wide, the company prides itself on the quality and durability of its machine tools. Having forged such a reputation, the organisation has been pro-active in ensuring that good work practices are being carried out in its manufacturing sites in Asia. “We have a fairly lasrge presence in China. As well as owning our own factories, we work with third parties, which are visited by people on an almost daily basis to check for quality and maintenance of workflow. That is the top goal at the moment, when we can take a high standard for granted then we can start to think about employing techniques to make the manufacturing process more lean, but that isn’t really a priority at present.”
This is just one of a number of challenges that Knuth has faced during the rapid growth it has experienced over the last decade. Benjamin Kaeckle, the export director for the European operations, outlines the challenges, saying: “We’ve evolved from a company that operates on a national level in Germany to a group that is active on the international market. The step from a medium sized manufacturer to an organisation with a significant global footprint is a big one. We’ve had to adapt as we’ve gone along by finding suitable staff and adjusting to the multiple markets what we have been entering at the same time.”
It is a trend that is set to continue; both Angus and Benjamin are adamant that further expansion is both possible and integral to the future og Knuth. “The development in Western Europe has been good for the last three years, while the situation in Eastern Europe and Asia has been fantastic for us in a business sense. We have been able to add a production hall in each of the last four years – that is something that will continue to happen,” Benjamin insists.
Angus echoes the sentiments of his colleague, saying: “While we are a global company, there is still vast room for growth. We plan to open more offices in more locations for decades to come. There is still a long way to go.” While that may be true, Knuth’s rapid ascent in the machine tools sector to date suggests its future will be typified by continued prosperity and progress.
Products: Machine tools