The Drive for Change

Interview with Michael Fahrenbach, Managing Director of Wöhrle GmbH & Co. KG

Wöhrle - The new 1,000-t production line
Rich in innovation: The new 1,000-ton production line

Nothing is currently changing the automotive industry more than the transformation to e-mobility. As an established supplier in this industry, Wöhrle GmbH & Co. KG supports its customers worldwide in the development of innovative mobility and drive concepts. With the new requirements, the family business based in Wildberg, Baden-Württemberg, is also changing – and is waiting with new innovations.

Wöhrle is a traditional company. Founded in 1921, the medium-sized family business has maintained its familial character to this day – even though it has now grown to over 300 employees. Managing director Michael Fahrenbach, who has been in the industry for 28 years and with the company for seven years, explains why this particularly motivates him: "You can feel the passion for entrepreneurship among the shareholders, which still include the founding family. They are all full-blooded entrepreneurs; they recognize market opportunities and consciously take entrepreneurial risks." Over the past few years, driven by the market, Wöhrle has increasingly specialized in new products and technologies.

New Technology, New Requirements

As a specialist for stamping, drawing, pressing, and turning parts as well as assemblies and tools, Wöhrle supports its customers from the automotive and related industries in the transformation process towards e-mobility.

Michael Fahrenbach, Managing Director of Wöhrle GmbH & Co. KG
Michael Fahrenbach, Managing Director of Wöhrle GmbH & Co. KG

The biggest innovation in the company's history dates from the recent period: "This machine contains many innovations that have not yet been available on the market. It covers a very broad performance spectrum, so that we are well poised for the coming requirements in this transformation process," says the CEO.

Thanks to the new machine, stamping parts from 50 to 2,000 t pressing force can now be offered. He sees this as a key argument in the market, as the transformation brings significant changes with it: "E-vehicles only have a fraction of the components compared to combustion engines. The knowledge that we have acquired over 100 years, we can and must now enrich with new topics," Michael Fahrenbach clearly states.

He reports 80% new developments with the customers. The supplier industry must adjust to this in order to be able to support the customers. The company benefits from its own toolmaking department, which makes it possible to develop and manufacture tools for stamping and forming technology up to a length of 4,000 mm and a weight of 20,000 kg. Michael Fahrenbach emphasizes: "It is important to us to keep our know-how in the company."

Partnership counts

In addition to the headquarters located south of Stuttgart in Wildberg, Wöhrle operates a second German branch in Krautheim on the Jagst and another one in Slovakia. The company's turnover is about 60 million EUR. Michael Fahrenbach mentions what he considers to be the company's greatest strength: "As a traditional company, we have been on the market for more than 100 years. This has a direct influence on our culture: We work a lot on a trust basis. Cooperation is very important to us. It is important to us that work is fun. All this has been lived for many years." Wöhrle relies on a partnership-based cooperation both at the customer and supplier level. The CEO explains: "Partnership is becoming increasingly important. Sustainability is created through sustainable partnerships."

Global Positioning

The strategy regarding the transformation process is aimed at building capabilities with respect to individual applications in the field of e-mobility. Topics such as electrification, thermal management, and drive systems play an important role in this. Currently, Michael Fahrenbach sees the political framework conditions and the energy crisis as the biggest challenges in the market. Currently, Wöhrle is mainly active in Europe, but also on other continents, such as Brazil and India.

For the future, it is planned to position itself even more globally. "For this, we are looking for strategic partners," says Michael Fahrenbach. The focus on core markets will continue to be a priority. The grown corporate culture will also be lived in the future. Thus, the CEO can also count on his employees when it comes to digitization. They are currently in the process of introducing a new ERP system. "We have a great team with committed and passionate employees who wanted to implement the project," he reports.