The main focus of Elcotech has always been on the assembly of electrotechnical industrial systems. During its years in the market, the company has built up a long list of impressive references, including Thyssen Mannesmann, Salzgitter and Voestalpine.
For electrical plants, steel mills and chemical plants, Elcotech is the right address to take on erection scheduling, execution and start-up. In order to broaden its portfolio, repair and maintenance services were added in 2003, providing long-term support for electrotechnical systems.
Today, Elcotech generates 35% of its turnover with project planning and development, while repair and maintenance account for another 35%. “Security- related systems and various industrial projects also form about one third of our activities,” points out Owner and Managing Director Peter Schütte. “It is important to serve different markets with a number of services, as we do not want to become dependent on one single industry alone.”
Elcotech is strong in taking on project planning, but as this segment is subject to international crises and changes, it has paid off to fall back on repair and maintenance.
“We do not want to depend on large players. One of them could easily end up in severe difficulties, forcing us to switch our focus at short notice,” says Mr. Schütte. “It is our motto that there is no proper conduct in a crisis, but only proper conduct before a crisis. You certainly have to do your homework before a crisis hits, and this is what has helped us remain unfazed by all recent global crises.”
Due to its global orientation and its wide range of products and services, Elcotech managed even the 2009 crisis without any damage. “It is obvious that projects are not started during difficult times. However, repair and maintenance are needed at any time,” adds Mr. Schütte.
While Elcotech started as a small company in 1996, it grew continuously in the years that followed. In 2000, the company had to expand its headquarters in Lünen to 6,000 m², followed by international expansion. In 2008, the first subsidiary abroad started operation. In Austria, contacts to heavy industry had existed before, as Elcotech had served companies like Voestalpine, and these could now be approached directly via the new Austrian subsidiary.
In Zatar, Croatia, another subsidiary was opened, manifesting Elcotech’s expansion in Southeastern Europe. “Here, we focus on safety technology and electrotechnical installations for industrial customers, and offer solutions for container shipping, loading and unloading, large hotel premises, infrastructure, and electrical supply,” stresses Mr. Schütte. “Demand for qualified repair and maintenance is also an issue, and we have definitely closed a gap in the market.”
In Koblenz, the company has been operating another site which installs solutions for bus bar systems and switchboards, and implements special projects on power supply. “We have reached broad market coverage, with the project business remaining our mainstay, and we are unbeatable in many ways, above all when it comes to speed. We operate a cargo plane in our fleet, which comes in handy when spare parts are desperately needed. It allows us to have 24-hour access to our suppliers,” points out Mr. Schütte.
Today, the group employs a workforce of 108 people, in addition to another 22 staff members from cooperating companies. They generate a turnover of 15.2 million EUR and counting, as in the past years Elcotech has experienced continuous growth.
“Our employees work in three shifts to keep up with some customers because operators of blast furnace plants, for instance, work in similar shifts, and we have to guarantee that we are prepared to step in as fast as possible in case of an emergency. This really requires accurate planning and flexibility as well as highly skilled and experienced staff members,” stresses Mr. Schütte.
Despite the company’s high specialization, traditional craftsmanship is still required, as Elcotech delivers work that cannot be automated. “There is no cable-laying robot yet,” says Mr. Schütte.
Elcotech has been concentrating on training and the ongoing qualification of its staff, but in recent years, it has become extremely difficult to find the right kind of personnel. “We care about our employees and go the extra mile to keep up with our social responsibilities,” says Mr. Schütte. “It is plain for everybody to see that the battle for the best employees has already started. However, if you want to retain staff for the long term, salary is not always the most important issue. It is crucial to focus on issues like corporate policy, resistance to economic crises, human resources policy and the like.”
Elcotech aims to provide a high level of safety. Despite its relatively young age, the company has some employees who have been working with Elcotech for the past 15 years. “Assembly is often a time and energy-consuming job, which we try to compensate for with financial and personal support. We try to counter the challenges imposed by assembly work and project assignments,” explains Mr. Schütte. “Assembly work is not easy, and this is why all new staff members have the opportunity to take part in an introductory program in order to get familiar with the complexity of the job.”
Elcotech is starting to think about its future now. Its personnel policy is just one aspect of its pro-active attitude. The company aims to expand its presence in the European markets.