Founded in 1934, STABILUS now has an 80% market share for gas springs and hydraulic vibration dampers in the automotive industry. “Being close to our customers is a top priority,” CEO Dietmar Siemssen explains the company’s success. “That is both in terms of customer satisfaction and service, as well as physical proximity.”
While the company headquarters and main production facility are located in Koblenz, STABILUS has a total of nine production locations worldwide including in the USA (New Mexico), Korea, China, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.
“We produce in the region for that region,” the CEO says. “Where our customers are – that is where we are, too.” Total staff comes to 3,500, with 1,800 at the headquarters.
Today’s product range comprises dampers, electric drives and a variety of gas springs. Dampers and gas springs soften motions, such as the opening and closing of car trunks or doors, or vibrations to prevent damage within machines. Swivel chair gas springs adjust and hold the position of office chairs.
Non-locking gas springs help when something needs to be raised or lowered, moved or adjusted. They are ideal when regular motion is required, as for doors and lids. Locking gas springs, on the contrary, offer ease of motion during adjustment but then lock in place, for example after altering the height of a desk. Electric drives are found mainly in trunk and tailgate opening and closing mechanisms that automatically open or close the trunk with the push of a button.
In 1962 STABILUS was the first company to produce gas springs in series. Most recently it has seen itself develop from a component manufacturer to a system supplier thanks in part to its electromechanical Powerise drives.
“Carmakers in particular want to buy functions, not products,” Mr. Siemssen describes the change. “With our gas springs, we present a function with high customer benefit and reliability at a reasonable price. In fact, that is often our approach to development: We consider the different possible applications of a product and present those to our customers with the aim of fulfilling their needs.”
The bulk of STABILUS’s clientele can be found in the automotive sector. “These customers are responsible for 60% of our turnover of more than 400 million EUR,” Mr. Siemssen points out. “We serve all the major manufacturers, and our gas springs find application in all different parts of a car. Our electromechanical Powerise drives are also hugely important to this industry.”
Other sectors that use STABILUS products include furniture technology – especially for the production of office chairs – and medical technology, among others, for a grand total of 20,000 customers around the globe. “We are actually the last remaining manufacturer of premium swivel chair components outside of China,” the CEO says. About 55% of STABILUS’s business takes place in Europe, and another 25% is in the NAFTA region. “We are seeing the strongest growth in Asia at the moment,” adds Mr. Siemssen.
STABILUS maintains customer relations and finds new clientele by attending an array of international trade fairs. Still on the list for 2012 are the Automechanika Frankfurt in September and the Sicam in Pordenone, Italy, in October, along with numerous others. For the coming years, STABILUS aims for growth, particularly in Asia. “I have spent a large part of my career in Japan,” reveals Mr. Siemssen, whose experience is bound to come in handy.
Coupled with growth is the target of doubled turnover by the year 2020. “Our many years of experience are the cornerstone we plan to build on,” the CEO begins. “We are sure that there is still vast potential in the field of electromechanical drives, in addition to our other areas of expertise. Our goal is to tap into it while continuing to offer high quality and affordable innovations.”