Gero Willmeroth, sales and service president at Engel Machinery Shanghai, discussed the results, and the company’s plans for the Asian market, at the Chinaplas 2015 Media Day. Sales were up 14% in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as they company also reached a record number of employees: 4800.
Willmeroth noted that Engel has added employees every year since 2009, with total staffing up more than 60% over that time period. Engel has 320 employees in China, with the bulk of those at its large-machine manufacturing plant outside Shanghai.
Among the new employees at that facility are five automation engineers working in the recently established Shanghai Automation Center. “Another one of the trends we see the in Asian market in general and China in particular is automation strongly increasing because of increased labor costs and higher demands on efficiency and precision,” Willmeroth said.
Willmeroth also commented on the much-hyped Chinese slowdown saying it reflects more of a positive correction than anything else with Engel’s sales in the region actually increasing.
“We see slower GDP growth as a very positive sign,” Willmeroth said, “we see this as a sign of a maturing market. In recent years, we had huge growth in China, but you can't continue to grow at that rate every year. Sometimes you hear in the media that there is a shrinkage of the economy but it is really just a reduced growth rate.”
Willmeroth also stressed that for its Engel products, the changes in the Chinese economy only point to more growth. “Our machines are the premium section of the market and we see this premium segment as growing,” Willmeroth said. “As the Chinese companies invest in higher quality, they have to compete now at a very high level.”