Walther Trowal expands in the United States
All Walther Trowal business functions are now located under one roof on an area of more than 4,000 m²
Walther Trowal has significantly expanded the facilities of its subsidiary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that was founded in 2005. It now offers its customers in North and South America “just-in-time” delivery times for the mass finishing media and compounds. In the substantially upgraded “Process Development Lab” experienced and knowledgeable application engineers assist the customers to optimise the surface finishing solutions for their workpieces.
With the move into a substantially larger facility, Walther Trowal LLC in Grand Rapids, Michigan has now eliminated the disadvantages of two separate physical locations. With a total area of more than 4,000 m², all the company’s business functions are now under one roof: Sales, Service and Administration and a threefold larger warehouse area for machines, compounds and media.
Walther Trowal has also expanded the „Process Development Lab“ that is now equipped with a variety of different finishing machines. It allows the American customers to quickly run processing trials with their workpieces using Walther Trowal machinery and, jointly with the company’s application engineers, improve their finishing processes. The lab is not only equipped with mass finishing and shot blast machinery but also coating systems for mass produced small parts.
In the “Tech & Training Centre,” Walther Trowal offers application and training seminars, which are primarily attended by distributors but also by customers from the automobile, machinery building and aerospace industry.
With the new facility Ken Raby, vice president and general manager of Walther Trowal LLC, can now serve his North and South American customers even better: „We have significantly expanded our warehouse capacity. This enables us to ship standard media and compounds to our customers from Grand Rapids “just-in-time”. In addition, we are stocking numerous mass finishing machines, which can now be shipped instantaneously.“
Several application and sales engineers at the Grand Rapids office support the existing nine distributors in the United States and Canada, including the subsidiary company in Queretaro, Mexico. At this location Walther Trowal LLC founded the Walther Trowal S.A. de C.V. in January 2020. With initially three employees, this office has also a test lab and a sizable stock of Trowal products.
Christoph Cruse, general sales manager at Walther Trowal in Haan/Germany, explains why the company is further expanding its presence in the Americas: „We see a continuously growing flow of customer enquiries and purchase orders from North as well as South America. Both markets are undergoing a steady growth. With short response times, a large warehouse capacity and intensive on-site technical support, our American customers have perceived us for quite a while as a local player in the field of surface finishing.“
Walther Trowal produces all its mass finishing, shot blasting and coating equipment, as well as compounds and plastic media, at its headquarters in Germany. Ceramic grinding and polishing media are still produced in Great Britain at a facility in Stoke-on-Trent.
Peitzmeier reaps the benefit of innovation
When Ulrich Peitzmeier sowed the seeds of his start-up business five years ago, he had little expectation of such a quick harvest from the risk and hard work that he put into the project. Peitzmeier Maschinenbau GmbH produces long-belt grinding machines for use in surface processing of stainless steel, steel and aluminium components across a wide range of industry sectors. In the UK, these machines are represented by deburring and surface finishing expert Ellesco.
“When I started the business it was just me. I was fortunate to have a 50m2 garage that I used as an assembly area for the initial machines. That lasted for two years before I had to upscale for the first time in 2017. A further move saw floorspace increase to 300m2, but our plan is to double this in 2020 to be better able to manage the influx of orders that saw us working to full capacity in 2019,” says Ulrich Peitzmeier. Employee numbers have also grown, with Ulrich now working alongside six colleagues who between them generated 1.4 million Euro of turnover in 2019, a figure that will grow considerably this year.
For such a young business, export sales are a major element in its success, with almost 70 percent of its sales coming from markets outside of Germany, with the UK, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Qatar, India and China all presenting good market growth for the business. This growth is due in part to Ulrich Peitzmeier’s previous experience in machine tool sales, but also down to the traditional methods still employed by many for surface and edge preparation.
“We find that between 80 to 90 percent of the people we speak to still remove edges when processing metal with an angle grinder by hand,” he says. “This opens up so many opportunities to highlight the benefits of our machines and their automation of the grinding and deburring process, eliminating time from the operation and also reducing risk to operators.”
Deburring and polishing by hand is tiring work and brings with it its own health and safety issues. The result is that very few people want to do it, so automation had to be the way forward. By removing the bulk of human intervention in the process quality and consistency is also improved dramatically. This will increase further as more robotic systems become available, which is part of the Peitzmeier strategy. “In the world of high-quality consumer items, stainless steel cooker hoods for example, manufacturers attach great importance to this high level of consistency. We are seeing similar moves in the automotive sector also,” says Ulrich Peitzmeier. “This is something that gives us great optimism for the future and will allow us to maintain a full order book.”
One of the key advantages of Peitzmeier is its agility and ability to tailor machines to suit a customer’s specific needs. The design of the Peitzmeier Omni-Grind machines is modular, a system that was developed from day one of the company’s existence.
“Modularity is our unique selling point,” says Ulrich Peitzmeier. “Because we had the advantage of starting with a blank piece of paper, from the beginning we opted for the modular system. Many of our competitors, on the other hand, had a history of manufacturing machines for the woodworking industry and simply adapted their systems to the metalworking sector, creating compromises. Confirmation that our approach was correct came at the 2016 EuroBLECH trade fair, where the design was awarded an innovation prize.
For such a relatively small company, Peitzmeier provides a full service to customers from development and design, through to production and after-sales service. It keeps tight control on its supply base, with most components locally sourced. For example, the control system is manufactured in Verl, Peitzmeier’s hometown, while spindle drives come from Bielefeld, and the motors from Lippischen, both less than an hour’s drive away.
Focusing on quality rather than volume, Peitzmeier has just three machines in its portfolio, all of which can be adapted to suit. These are the Omni-Grind Twin, the Omni-Grind Portal and the Omni-Grind Dura, covering small to midsize, large and heavy parts and large heavy metal plate respectively. Each machine can be equipped with individual modules to match individual applications. Automation can also be tailored to suit a customer’s requirements, with programmable five-face grinding possible. The rigid machine construction makes it possible to process parts measuring from 2 m to 12 m in width, depending on machine type.