Senoplast Klepsch & Co: Expanding in Global Plastics Market

Senoplast keeps it in the family

Founded in 1956, Senoplast Klepsch & Co is a global player in the plastics industry predominantly serving the automotive, aerospace, aviation, IT and communications industries, with a presence in 40 countries throughout the world.

This leading company strives to use eco-friendly materials and technologies, and offers a wide range of diverse applications that use high-value granulate produced using mono or multilayer co-extrusion technology for thermoforming, related to its seven segments: automotive, sanitary, refrigerator, packaging, ID cards, furniture, and advertising.

Based in Piesendorf, Austria, the company prides itself in decades of international experience and future orientated technology, which creates a competent systems supplier for trade and industry in the plastics sector. Senoplast’s top priority is quality and its certified quality management system, modern production facilities, ongoing training and high-value materials all contribute to high-quality end products.

With an annual turnover of 116 million euros, Senoplast is a privately owned company with 80 per cent control in the hands of the Klepsch family. Chairman and managing director Wilhelm Klepsch explains how the company continuously changes in order to move forward: “We are running seven divisions and constantly trying to improve each to get a USP – unique selling position – for every one. Our main priority is maintaining our high-quality standards and respected image, whilst progressing profitably. We have recently expanded our factory in Querétaro, Mexico, which serves the North American market including Canada, and we are just finishing a new factory in Russia. My aim is to start that production unit in October 2007 so we can swiftly get our advanced products into the Russian market. After conducting marketing research in China, we have also formulated a plan to manufacture there within two to three years.”

In recognising the need to offer technical innovation, Senoplast took the decision to create Senco R&D to concentrate on application technology and conduct technical laboratory testing for the company. “I have a philosophy to invent new products so we formed Senco R&D,” explains Wilhelm. “Investment is continual and our last investment was a year ago in automotive equipment including machine shop and clean room conditions at a cost of 16 million euros. If we don’t make these investments then the future will not happen for us.”

Setting Senoplast apart from competitors is its unwavering commitment to preserve the environment through careful production processes. In 1985, Senoplast was granted the Award for Environmental Protection in Industry and in the first edition of Environment 2000; it won the Austrian award for environmental reports and was chosen as one of the three best companies in Austria. Wilhelm believes all industrial companies can achieve a positive symbiosis between technology and nature, and should take responsibility for waste management: “The environment is a major issue that we consider and I’m proud that Senoplast won the first environmental prize in Austria because it is very much a part of our motivation. I think we have to respect nature so we don’t destroy it for future generations and I strongly believe in strict environmental regulations.”

Senoplast’s expanding automotive division focuses on the development of special plastic sheets and films for internal and external use in cars, commercial vehicles and caravans with various composite sheets offered to meet market requirements regarding mechanical properties and UV stability. “Our focus is moving further towards the automotive industry and we have tried to replace painting by making whole car parts out of plastic and polymer sheets that are the specified colour, which is a revolution in the market and places us in direct competition with painting companies,” says Wilhelm. “In preparation, we constructed a special new building with clean room conditions in order to get the correct colour on our material surfaces. This process is our USP at the moment and our other products for the automotive industry are supported by Senoplast’s reputation for always having the best product on the market. We constantly upgrade the high quality of our products and I have very strict quality rules that limit any materials that might destroy the properties of the sheet. These materials are, unfortunately, very common in European countries and in China, and are of an inferior quality which damages the whole name of extruded products.”

Senoplast will be taking part in a number of exhibitions in the near future, including the K2007 exhibition in Düsseldorf, which provides an exciting opportunity for the company to display its new product developments and applications.

“Exhibitions are an important chance for us to get our strategy out into the market to tell our customers what we’re planning and at the K2007 exhibition we’ll be showing our customers how we keep our promises when it comes to creating consistently high quality products,” comments Wilhelm.

Senoplast is in a favourable position as the market remains strong, though if it is to succeed long-term Wilhelm recognises the need to adapt: “The market at the moment is possibly a little overheated but it’s very good economically, especially in my area of Europe. I personally believe that economical development moves in waves and Europe is currently in a positive wave but I think that will cool down again, and we’re noticing a general industrial move towards Eastern Europe and China where labour costs are cheaper, which brings competition. However, I strictly follow my rules regarding the globalisation of Senoplast products – we do not want to produce poor quality products in certain places and bring them back to Europe – I only want to produce high-end products. This move does provide opportunities for us but we must move quickly because countries such as China have millions of technicians, and they’ve developed the current new products, when this is historically a privilege of Europe. If we are not quick enough to develop innovations and technologies then we will have a tough time in future.”

Alongside automotive, Senoplast is concentrating on developing ID cards. Personal documents such as passports, ID cards and driving licenses can be costly to produce and end users are not prepared to regularly replace cards so it is important to use a long-life material. Senoplast has specially developed Polycarbonate foils for the production of high quality solutions, which offer good printability, excellent lamination, and high temperature resistance. “Right now we are running through a strong period with ID cards and we’ve developed new products in this area with very little competition – only one other company is targeting this market in Europe – and I’m looking into production with my highest technology.”

Other future plans include implementing a new management training procedure and expansion of facilities in certain countries: “We’re planning to have a solid sales organisation in India so we can produce advanced products in that market and we’re increasing our management system. My son Günter, who will be my successor, is returning from our plant in Mexico to help me concentrate on our new factories in Russia, India and China,” says Wilhelm. “I will go to the people that help me run the companies and implement an internal training system. In Russia, for instance, we will teach some particularly key aspects which include our highly sophisticated developments happening in Austria. I was one of the inventors of the co-extrusion process and of course over the years we have developed additional know-how and this could not be learned in a three-month course because it requires considerable training.

“In the future it is important that we remain family run and I believe in private ownership. I don’t plan to go public, which means our growth is limited to the amount of money we can earn before we invest. That may be a little old-fashioned but I think the old rules provide a very solid basis for business. I think it is important that the company remains family run as I see this as a major advantage. I also feel strongly in Corporate Social Responsibility and there are too few entrepreneurs who share my views but I think others will come to understand that we need to have CSR systems otherwise our economy will suffer dramatically. I’m sure, that our company will continue successfully for a long time into the future.”

Senoplast Klepsch & Co
Products: Semi-finished plastic materials
Sites: Austria, Russia and Mexico
Employees: 500