Combining tradition with the future: "Pühl is back!"

Flexibility, reliability and quality are core qualities at Pühl, one of Europe’s largest washer manufacturers. Torque Magazine’s Liberty Sheldon travels to Plettenberg to experience the impressive production site, and to discuss how the company has experienced challenging times and come out stronger on the other side...

The last few years have seen Pühl lead the way as one of the largest manufacturers of standard parts and specialised washers in Europe. The mid-sized manufacturing company has recently put family first as it has transitioned from having an outside Managing Director to being 100% family run.

January 2019 saw Ralf and Dr. Götz Kaltheuner take control of the company as the fourth generation of family CEOs. Before the arrival of the young brothers into more senior roles within the company, Pühl had been led by another family member since October 2018, Joachim Rohwedder, Ralf’s father in law.

Pühl’s extensive product portfolio features both standard and specialised parts for several industries such as the fastener industry, the energy industry, the railway industry and the automotive industry with the company’s main exports taking place in Germany, Scandinavia, Poland, and Netherlands in particular.

The company’s modern manufacturing technologies and large warehouse space enable Pühl to deliver large quantities of products at a good standard to its customers. Furthermore, all tools for the pressing machines are produced 100% in house. This technology is an advantage to Pühl and is something the company is very proud of.

Pühl’s individual departments such as the design department and tooling department work across each other to provide the best possible service for its customers.

When it comes to designing and manufacturing special parts according to drawings or samples, Pühl’s team of extremely experienced technicians are able to work together with the customer to create the most effective and desired product.

“We have quite a lot of , says Sebastian Pieper, Sales Director. “We have a lot of experience in our quality department and an experienced quality manager who has worked for years in the automotive sector. We also have experienced staff members in our tooling department.”

Joachim Rohwedder, CEO, tells Torque Magazine: “We are able to go to the customer personally and advise them and give some technical advice and proposals.“

In addition to the company playing a more advisory role with its customers, recent years have seen Pühl introduce a new ERP System, further showing how committed they are to providing a great service to its customers.

The new system has enabled the company to handle the large amount of product orders received on a daily basis as the system can track parts as they move throughout the production chain as well as offering ‘frame contracts’ to customers. This is where Pühl stocks parts in its warehouse and the customer only pays for these parts once they are delivered. This also means that the customer does not need to stock products in excess and can request them when they are needed.

“The new ERP system bought us some problems as a result of performance. Our job for the last 15-18 months was to bring back the confidence and the trust of our customers,” says Rohwedder.

However, going forward, Rohwedder notes: “We have worked very hard over the last few years and we are now very close to the position we were in before the upgraded ERP system in terms of gaining our customers trust. Not only are we reliable, we are open and trustworthy with our problems and we are proactive in going to the customers. If we have problems, we explain these to the customers with the aim of being as transparent as possible and we have gained customers because of this.”

Despite the issues faced over the last few years due to the change in the ERP system, 2019 saw Pühl’s supplier status reach a huge 98%. Subsequently, the company also won the Award for ‘Quality and delivery performance 2019’- an achievement that is worth shouting about.

In terms of what’s to come for the future of Pühl, Pieper says: “We are in general, quite good at producing big and heavy parts and therefore we are trying to get more and more parts in our portfolio. There are more interesting things coming that we used to work on that we are now improving. We want to experiment and see what we can do and how we can expand.”

When it comes to manufacturing and production, Pühl’s performance has proved impressive, with a fast-paced production site and in terms of the sheer volume of articles being produced. With production rates back up at 100% since August, it has been go go go at Pühl.

With a name that means flexibility, reliability, and quality, Pühl has not only been flexible during tough times, it has shown its customers that it be reliable and produce high-quality products at an efficient rate. Not only has it lived up to these core company values, but the company’s resilience will no doubt ensure that Pühl will remain one of the largest manufacturers of washers in Europe for generations to come.

This article was first published in Torque Magazine. Don’t get the mag? You can apply for a free subscription online today. Or take a look at back issues in the Torque Magazine archive