Continuous investment and international expansion safeguards the future of the family business
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe comprises eleven independent specialist firms in Germany that develop, produce and market functional ingredients for the production of food and feed.
They include internationally well-known names such as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, SternVitamin, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, HERZA Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt. Each company has specific competence in a particular field, such as bakery or dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, chocolate, flavourings, lecithin, enzymes or vitamins.
'This special, customer-friendly structure is the basis of our innovative power and our success,' says Torsten Wywiol, who leads the group of companies in the second generation as its CEO. 'Our diversified and flexible production system and our intensive applications research enable us to develop and sell product solutions tailor-made to individual customers. That is how we were able to assert ourselves against the big corporations in the international ingredients market again last year and achieve above-average growth across all the units.'
The culture of innovation has high priority throughout the group, in the sectors of dairy products, baked goods or vegan specialities alike: 'Our barbecue sausages made of vegetable protein are a real hit in terms of flavour and crispness, and they are sold successfully by a number of meat producers,' Torsten Wywiol adds.
Above all, the ingredients group scores with a transparent management style and wide personal scope for the individual – and not only for employees: customers and suppliers are treated as equal partners too. Short decision making routes and a culture of co-operation between the divisions, from research and development through to production and sales are further advantages of an owner-managed family business.
With an export share of more than 80%, the independently operating companies supply customers in more than 100 countries in all of the continents. Fifteen foreign affiliates with a specific knowledge of their region, and in some cases research and production facilities of their own, ensure the group access to the most important markets.
To continue this positive development, the group will invest another €25m in enlarging research and production capacities in Germany and abroad during the next 2 years. New food technologists and sales staff will also be taken on for these functions in Hamburg and abroad. This, says Torsten Wywiol, will create a basis for continued growth of the group and a sales target of €470m in 2016.