Steel-hard performance!

Interview with André Walter, Managing Director of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG

Härterei Reese Chemnitz Case Hardening via Induction
Case hardening via induction is one of many steel hardening processes in the service portfolio of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG

Hardening by heat is an ancient process: "It's been around forever," knows André Walter, managing director of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG. However, hardening steel in particular requires special experience to achieve the best results, as not every hardening process is suitable for every type of steel - one of many reasons why customers rely on the company's expertise.

Hardening by various methods, nitriding, nitrocarburizing, straightening, annealing, and surface treatment - those looking at the services offered by Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG to their customers hear the sound of metal and hard work.

What matters most in these demanding processing methods, however, are experience and know-how, knows Managing Director André Walter: "We are a classic contract hardening company. Customers bring us their components, which we subject to our heat treatment, thereby changing the material properties.

André Walter, Managing Director of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG
André Walter, Managing Director of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG

Afterwards, the customer gets the parts back. In the product development chain, we only have a small share, but it has a big impact: There are well over 1,000 types of steel; no part is like another, even if the steel has the same type designation. In order to deliver the best processing results here, comprehensive knowledge of the material is required - in the truest sense of the word.

75 Years of Experience in Steel

This knowledge and the corresponding experience in hardening steel were acquired over decades: the first of today's four sister companies was founded in Bochum in 1948. Over time, other locations followed in Brackenheim in Baden-Württemberg, in Weimar in Thuringia, and in Chemnitz in Saxony.

The headquarters of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG
The headquarters of Härterei Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG. The company is one of four sister companies that together form the Reese Group

"The capacity of the Bochum site was at its limit in the early 1980s. We then specifically looked for additional sites in Germany where there was no heat treatment facility, after the reunification also in the East," explains André Walter the spatial distance between the sister companies.

"Each of the companies is now rooted in its respective region. Even though we all do heat treatment, each customer has different demands and each location also has its own background in this respect," explains the managing director. "This offers our regional customers a high degree of flexibility."

But it's not only on a nationwide basis that Reese's services are valued. "We also have international clients," emphasizes André Walter. "This vouches for our quality." A total of 270 employees work for the entire group, generating a total turnover of about 40 million EUR. Of this, Reese Chemnitz GmbH & Co. KG, with 35 employees, accounts for a good five million EUR - with an upward trend, because despite the pandemic and the Ukraine war, the company is clearly on a growth course.

Reese Heat Treatment Chemnitz - Different Hardening Methods
Different types of steel require different hardening methods

Positioned as broadly as imaginable

Andre Walter sees the bread and butter business of his Chemnitz location in the full scope of the order spectrum: “Screws, bolts, shafts, gears – everything you can think of and that also in medium and small batch sizes. It is important to us not to depend on a few large customers or specific industries, but to diversify our positioning.”

Customers come not only from the automotive sector but also, for example, from aerospace or medical technology. Because not every hardening process suits every type of steel, it is necessary to determine in advance which function the component must fulfil later on. Here, Reese often acts as a sparring partner for his customers, as advice on the functionality of a component is desired, as well as the development of prototypes.

Looking towards the future of his company, one thing is especially important to André Walter: “Our goal is to offer our services while making clean use of resources and increasingly relying on green energy. We are aware of our responsibility.”