Hygiene Means Health

Interview with Dipl.-Ing. Peter Schulenberg, Managing Director of Frontmatec Hygiene GmbH

Dipl.-Ing. Peter Schulenberg, Managing Director of Frontmatec Hygiene GmbH
Dipl.-Ing. Peter Schulenberg, Managing Director of Frontmatec Hygiene GmbH

In the food processing industry, hygiene has always played a central role. Frontmatec Hygiene GmbH from Beckum is the leading name when it comes to personal hygiene. Under the leadership of the new Managing Director Dipl.-Ing. Peter Schulenberg, the company focuses on holistic and technologically advanced, customized solutions, also for areas outside the food market.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Schulenberg, the past few years have been turbulent. What has this done to your business?

Peter Schulenberg: The past years have not been easy, but we were able to maintain a stable position in the market, not least because we are part of a strong corporate group. Due to the pandemic, the hygiene market boomed in 2020 and 2021, and we were able to quickly present solutions that met the demand. Since 2023, we have been experiencing a decline, among other things, due to the loss of the Russian market and the general uncertainty in the economy. Because of the African swine fever, pork can no longer be exported to China. This has a strong impact on the slaughterhouses in Germany. Accordingly, our customers are very cautious when it comes to investments. We feel this immediately as manufacturers of plants and equipment. To some extent, we can compensate for this with our export business.

Frontmatec Hygiene Hygiene Station Traditio Complete Type 23822
The complete Hygiene Station Traditio Complete Type 23822

Wirtschaftsforum: How is your portfolio currently positioned? What are the focuses?

Peter Schulenberg: In the hygiene sector, ensuring and controlled cleaning of employees before entering the production sites is still very much in demand. In many industries, it is becoming even more important. Products in the supermarket are changing. There is an increasing offer of convenience products. Therefore, ensuring the shelf life of the products is essential. Accordingly, it is important that no contaminants or germs are introduced into the production facilities. Here, vandalism-proof, repeatable, and documentable access controls must be implemented. In addition, in-house logistics in the factories are becoming increasingly important, keyword cross-contamination, for example between storage and shipping. At our sister company, Frontmatec GmbH, the focus is on automation. Automation increases the quality and efficiency of the facilities. It helps with the problem of skilled labor shortages and ultimately results in an improvement of product quality.

Wirtschaftsforum: What distinguishes Frontmatec from other providers in the market?

Peter Schulenberg: We recognized the needs of our customers very early on. This was possible through our proximity to them. Even today, this remains our core competency. What also distinguishes us from other providers is that although we have standard products, we can customize them to meet customer needs. We have a modular design in our facilities and can thus fulfill almost every individual request – at a competitive price. Our products are also made in Germany, at the Beckum location. With Frontmatec Hygiene GmbH and Frontmatec GmbH, which is strong in automation as a sales partner, we are comprehensively positioned.

Wirtschaftsforum: Will you maintain the focus on the meat processing industry in the future?

Peter Schulenberg: The meat processing sector will remain an important pillar. But beyond that, we also want to explore new industries. We have identified further areas in the food industry. For example, in the bakery sector, there are similar circumstances and requirements as in the meat industry. Of course, the framework conditions are different. We can apply our technologies, only needing to adjust them slightly. This also applies to fruit, vegetables, or convenience foods. But we are also examining non-food areas, such as microelectronics. Here too, the highest standards are required, and there are hardly any automated solutions so far.

Wirtschaftsforum: What do you expect from the market in the near future?

Peter Schulenberg: For 2024, we expect further market stagnation. From 2025, a slight recovery will likely occur, driven by the replacement of equipment among customers. The market will consolidate in 2024. We have consistently advanced our diversification recently and now want to open up new markets in Germany. From 2025, Frontmatec GmbH will be in strong demand in the area of automation, as the cost pressure on our customers is currently very high. They will have to invest in automation.

Wirtschaftsforum: Where do you want to take the company in the coming years?

Peter Schulenberg: We want to remain THE leading brand in personnel hygiene for the food industry, but we also want to develop well in other areas. Ideally, we will also be active outside Europe. In our corporate group, we want to gain more weight in the entire value chain, even though we are a comparatively small production site. We will work consistently on this. We have a dedicated team; that's why I'm confident that we will succeed.