Creating Connections

Interview with Christian Kauth, CEO, and Johannes Kauth, COO of the Kauth Group

PAUL KAUTH Battery Mounting
A battery mounting for the EQS Mercedes

The automotive industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. Suppliers are challenged to adapt to the changed requirements. The KAUTH Group, based in Denkingen, Germany, an expert in tube and forming technology, has been successfully on the market for almost 100 years. With expert knowledge, intelligent systems, and a passion for business, the family business successfully meets the current challenges.

Economic Forum: Mr. Kauth, your product range is extensive. What are the most important product areas for the KAUTH Group?

Johannes Kauth: A pillar of our business is threaded inserts and tubes. Over the past few years, assemblies, or larger component groups, have also become increasingly important. However, threaded inserts are always at the core. Our program also includes axle and seat mountings, electrical, fuel, and exhaust systems, door, rear, and folding hinge systems, body parts, and other products.

Economic Forum: Do you offer standardized solutions, or do you work individually according to customer requirements?

Christian Kauth: Everything is customized individually for the customer with us. We engage in discussions very early in the development phase, so that we have an overall view of the vehicle's requirements. We then make appropriate suggestions for design. Thus, we are more than a provider of products. We are partners to our customers.

Christian Kauth (CEO) and Johannes Kauth (COO) of the Kauth Group
Christian Kauth (CEO) and Johannes Kauth (COO)

Economic Forum: From which sectors do your customers come?

Johannes Kauth: We are focused on the automotive sector and our customers include renowned names such as BMW, Mercedes or Audi, and the VW group. The Tier1 suppliers, such as voestalpine AG, are also among our customers.

Economic Forum: What are currently important regions for the KAUTH Group and where do you see prospects for the coming years?

Christian Kauth: Fundamentally, we are globally positioned with the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region as our home and core market. In Europe, we go wherever the Tiers are located. Currently, we have a large order from Spain. We are also well positioned in Eastern Europe. Globally, we already have customers from China and would like to expand towards the USA and Canada. Brands like Ford, GM, or Chrysler have yet to use tubes extensively.

New construction of the KAUTH Group for welding systems in Denkingen
The new construction of the KAUTH Group for welding systems in Denkingen

Economic Forum: What are currently the important topics for your customers?

Johannes Kauth: Electrification is a key term. All new vehicles are electric. As a result, some products are no longer needed for us, for example, motor and transmission mounts. Instead, there are now mounts for batteries. We focus on the vehicle body and are independent of the drive type. Doors and seats will always be needed. The tubes for electromobility are even more massive than those for combustion engines, as the battery makes the vehicle heavier.

Economic Forum: What is your company doing to improve its ecological footprint?

Christian Kauth: We are currently expanding our main plant with additional assembly areas. Here, we will install a photovoltaic system with 920 KVA. We are going to install a heat pump and in production, install underfloor heating. Installing heat pumps in all our productions is a challenge. We would have to gut all buildings for this. Therefore, we will increasingly rely on photovoltaics there too. In addition, we use LED lighting exclusively, work with intelligent machine control, and have a shutdown management system. Last but not least, we are certified according to ISO 14001 and 50001. We had the certifications even before they became a big marketing issue.

PAUL KAUTH Threaded Inserts
The company manufactures threaded inserts for major car brands, such as BMW, Mercedes or VW
Tubes are an important business segment for the company

Economic Forum: Your grandfather laid the foundation for the company in 1928. Almost 100 years later, the company is still on the market and very successful. What do you attribute this very long-term success of Paul Kauth to?

Christian Kauth: My family has always passionately stood behind the company, and we have always been hardworking. It was often 'business before private life'. We represent the typical German entrepreneurship. At our company, the owners and managers have always stood at the machines themselves. Moreover, we have always invested, even in challenging times. Regarding our products, from certain dimensions onwards, we have a know-how advantage over some competitors. Not everyone can offer our solutions. We have a real USP (unique selling proposition) when it comes to larger and more massive tubes, and we can advise from a very early stage. Moreover, our prototype construction is extremely efficient. Last but not least, as a family business, we are always approachable for our employees, even after working hours. We have always focused on a 'togetherness' and our work is meaningful. This is very important to young people.

Economic Forum: What have you set your sights on for the year 2023?

Christian Kauth: Our new building is a major topic. It covers approximately 6,000 m2. We intend to move by the end of the year at the latest, with all assembly lines. We have many new forward-looking projects in the pipeline, for example, we are involved in the new Mercedes platforms EA and MMA. It remains to be seen how high the actual production numbers will be.

PAUL KAUTH - The production hall of the company around 1970
The production hall of the company around 1970
PAUL KAUTH - Paul Kauth with his fleet in the early years
Paul Kauth with his fleet in the early years

Economic Forum: What long-term goal do you pursue for the KAUTH Group?

Christian Kauth: We will look for further applications for our solutions. There are also various application perspectives outside the automotive industry. We are currently exploring these. In addition, we want to become more international and make the leap to North America. Opening our own plant there would be a milestone for us.

Johannes Kauth: We aim to improve year by year. More important to us than increasing our revenue is to enhance our quality and stability. Moreover, we want to remain autonomous in our operations. We want to make our own decisions. Ultimately, it's about setting up the company well for the fourth family generation.