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Hidden champion

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Kugel- und Rollenlagerwerk Leipzig (KRW) manufactures standard and individually tailored bearings for applications in engineering and machine building, the rail and transportation industries, power and steel plants, shipbuilding and many other demanding sectors.

The product portfolio comprises high-performance roller bearings and ball bearings, special bearings for special applications, current insulated and saltwater-resistant roller bearings, and components and accessories, for example for easier mounting or extended service life, as well as replacement parts.

All bearings are available with outer diameters of up to 1,300 mm. KRW was founded in 1904 under the name Deutsche Kugellagerfabrik (DKF). “We have an eventful history,” says Managing Director Andreas Poltsch. “Established at the beginning of the 20th century, at the time of the German Empire, the company became an important supplier to Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG in Dessau in the 1930s. In the German Democratic Republic, it was a state combine with up to 15,000 employees. With German reunification, the company was acquired by the FAG Group. Since then, we have continuously expanded our product range and market presence, both in Germany and internationally.”

Since 2013, KRW has been owned by Wafangdian Bearing Group Corporation (ZWZ), the largest manufacturer of rolling bearings in China. KRW has sales representatives worldwide as well as a subsidiary – KRW Bearings Pvt. Ltd. – in Andhra Pradesh, India.

The company employs a total of 200 people and turns over 19.5 million EUR. “The market is characterized by overcapacities and, hence, a fall in prices for most bearing types,” explains Mr. Poltsch. “The railway and wind power markets are developing favourably, but other sectors such as heavy industry or the oil industry are rather weak, which is also due to the low oil price.”

KRW is tackling the difficult market situation through a combination of strategic measures. These include a further enhancement of the company’s application and industry orientation to grow technical know-how and experience, and better customer service to create added value in areas such as assembly, disassembly, maintenance and expert opinions.

“We will also strengthen our development and engineering partnership to accompany customers from the prototype through to serial production,” states Mr. Poltsch.

In addition, KRW wants to expand its global market presence further, especially in fast-evolving markets in Asia. Last but not least, the German bearing specialist continues to invest in new technology and equipment.

“You have to invest in the crisis in order to emerge stronger when the market is picking up speed again,” Mr. Poltsch describes the company’s anti-cyclical investment policy.

In growing its competitive position, KRW is relying on its tried-and-tested strengths: close customer relations, the flexibility and quick decision-making that can only be offered by a medium-sized enterprise, and its open-factory approach.

“Our customers can visit our production plant any time, which is highly appreciated,” explains Mr. Poltsch. KRW is not aiming for excessive growth or expansion at all costs, though. “Our goal is to achieve moderate, sustainable growth to secure the economic future of the company and its location in Germany as a high-quality manufacturing site,” concludes Mr. Poltsch.

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