KraussMaffei open house marks 50 years in the US

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Munich-based plastics machinery builder KraussMaffei Group ventured to the United States in 1966, based itself in New York and began working through outside sales agents and local distributors.

A humble beginning.

Fast forward to May 19 and KraussMaffei Corp. drew about 400 attendees to the company’s open house in Florence to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the United States. The event featured technical presentations and 50 suppliers spread across nearly the entire plant floor in Florence — and covered the entire range of plastics machinery, including injection molding, extrusion of both compounding and pipe and profiles, and reaction injection molding equipment for polyurethane processing. Brands under the group include KraussMaffei, Netstal and Berstorff.

Paul Caprio, president of KM North America, based in Florence, said robust sales in automotive, and solid business in packaging, medical and other markets, is keeping the 200-employee unit busy.

Caprio said KraussMaffei Corp. generated $300 million in new orders in 2015 — a record. About $200 million of that business comes from injection molding.

And, Caprio said, those strong sales made the U.S. market its single-biggest market in the world, in terms of generating new orders, for the Germany-based machinery company — even surpassing KraussMaffei’s home country. And Germany itself had a record year, he said.

“More orders are coming from America that from any single country,” Caprio said. “Last year was the first year that we had more orders than Germany.”

KraussMaffei leaders from Florence and the Munich headquarters discussed the company’s past and future in North America during a news conference at the open house.

North America, covering the United States, Mexico and Canada, is an important region for the parent company, said Frank Stieler, CEO of KraussMaffei Group. He and Caprio spoke at a dinner May 18 at Belterra Casino, about 40 miles south of Florence, Ky., across the river in Indiana.

Stieler said the NAFTA region accounts for about 30 percent of total KraussMaffei sales. “To see the incredible successes, and it’s because of you,” he told the Florence employees.

The strong U.S. automotive market has powered much of sales of KM, and other suppliers of injection molding machines. Caprio said automotive is the North American operation’s No. 1 market. “But I will say we’re seeing packaging — both thin wall and industrial packaging, like garbage cans and crates, picking up in a very healthy manner,” he said at the press conference.

The company does not release the number of injection molding presses it sells, according to Caprio.

That balance and diversity — of markets and types of plastics processing machinery — is healthy for KraussMaffei, Caprio said.

At the open house, KM was molding packaging and medical parts, as well as extruding pipe. A Netstal Elion injection-compression molding cell molded 15-ounce containers on a four-by-four stack mold, running in-mold labeling using a high-speed Machines Pages IML system.

In its early days in the United States, KraussMaffei stayed in Wichita, Kan., which is a strong center of the extrusion equipment industry. KM extrusion was the initial focus, Caprio said. And it was a simple decision for German executives because Wichita sits smack dab in the center of the country, he said.

“In 1977, we started with our own employees in Wichita. And that was chosen probably because of a pin on a map — right in the middle of America,” Caprio said. The KM business grew from five employees at first to 25 in Kansas.

KraussMaffei in 1986 built the U.S. headquarters in Florence, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. That move brought the business units together. Caprio said the company has expanded the building two times in the 30 years since then.

“The biggest change at that time was we brought all the business under one roof (in the Florence building),” Caprio said. “So we brought injection molding in, which was being represented by an agency in New Jersey. We brought polyurethane in, which was being represented by an agency in Grand Rapids, Mich. And obviously the Wichita group came from the extrusion side.”

Caprio joined KraussMaffei in 1994. He was named president in 2009. Caprio said that KM’s growth also is benefiting from the “reshoring” of work to the United States, and decisions by many U.S. companies not to move production offshore in the first place.

“We have always supported the strategy that goods for the U.S. market should be produced within the U.S. borders,” he said.


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