The Wintergroup is one of the largest pallet producers in Austria and provides an end-to-end service for its customers across its four areas of operation. Subsidiary company, Paletten Winter GmbH, manufactures new Euro-pallets and also supplies as-new, used and repaired Euro-pallets as well as special sizes and forms, such as Düsseldorf, CP, display and disposable pallets.
New Euro-pallets are IPPC-treated to provide protection from wood pests, and all pallets meet the stringent standards set out in the EPAL and UIC licenses held by the company, which are compulsory for pallet producers.
Paletten Logistik Winter GmbH collects, repairs and delivers pallets in cooperation with CHEP, the leading pallet and container rental service provider. The company owns four tractor units and six new jumbo trailers equipped with GPS and communication systems, which collect pallets from customers, and deliver them to its depot to be sorted for reuse, repair or trashing.
Repairs are undertaken by highly skilled staff using the latest machinery. “Recycling is central to our operation,” says Managing Director and company founder, Franz Winter. This theme underpins the other branches of the Wintergroup. Hackgut Winter GmbH undertakes forestry clearing and produces wood chip for mulch and heating fuel, and firewood.
The emphasis is on sustainability and its forestry experts advise clients on forest regeneration for the production of renewable energy. Hackgut Winter owns the largest mobile chopping machine in the world. In addition to the forestry work, old pallets are also shredded and recycled.
Winter Möbel is the fourth activity within the group and utilizes the products of the main business to create innovative furniture. This was the brainchild of Mr. Winter’s wife, Andrea, who presented tables, benches, chairs and beds made of pallets to a captivated audience at the Vienna Exhibition.
Customers of the Wintergroup include food chains, the construction industry, and packaging companies across Austria and Eastern Europe. Competition is tough, particularly from Eastern Europe where many low cost alternatives are produced.
The company has therefore chosen to differentiate itself through service and quality. The staff is well-trained and experienced; nevertheless, Mr. Winter personally maintains a constant overview of quality standards within the production halls.
The company operates a 16-hour day, six days per week so that customer orders can be turned around at top speed. “The introduction of the just-in-time concept was a key factor in the way we work today and, on average, a fully loaded lorry leaves our premises every three to four hours,” explains Mr. Winter. “Our motto is ‘Ordered today, delivered tomorrow’ and alongside this, we are 100% focused on quality and safety.”
The transport industry, including the pallet business, is facing a challenging future, largely due to cheap competition and the uncertainty within the general economy.
“We really don’t know what will happen in the next few years,” admits Mr. Winter. “We don’t want to enter the market of cheap producers. That is not possible in Austria and I don’t want to move our operation abroad. Our principal aim is to maintain the level at which we are operating today.”
With its focus on quality, safety and speed of delivery, the Wintergroup is well-positioned to achieve this goal.