Interview with Thomas Linke, managing director of Willy Remscheid Galvanische Anstalt GmbH

They add the finishing touches to cars, interior design, etc. and are representative of the overall quality of the product: Surface finishings. Willy Remscheid Galvanische Anstalt GmbH, based in Solingen, proves that more than just polishing plays a role here.
The company specialises in high-quality surface technology and ensures that products are flawless.

‘We specialise in both large and small quantities and high quality requirements. We always ensure that our performance is at the highest level’, explains Thomas Linke. He has been managing director of the family business since 1996. ‘I am the fourth generation to run the company. I was ten years old when I first stood in the company. It has accompanied me my whole life since then.’ This passion is also reflected in the company’s services: ‘In our surface technology services, we rely on our many years of experience in the areas of zinc die casting, aluminium, non-ferrous metals and our modern, fully automated electroplating systems. We can implement a wide variety of coatings, including copper, bright nickel, matt nickel, semi-bright nickel, MPS nickel, cracked nickel and chrome. But this is not the only area in which we are broadly positioned. Our services also range from A to Z. We take care of the procurement of raw parts, grinding, polishing and electroplating. We constantly monitor all steps and also carry out assembly work. Finally, we cover the packaging and dispatch of the entire product. This enables us to provide our customers with comprehensive support and the best possible service.’ 80% of Willy Remscheid’s customers are companies from the automotive industry. ‘However, we are also increasingly serving the sanitary sector, the fittings sector of the glass industry, customers from the medical technology sector and the furniture and fittings industry’, explains the managing director.

Into the future with the environment

In the last two years, we have intensively promoted environmental awareness
and invested heavily in
photovoltaics, CHP and water treatment.

The high level of vertical integration and the technical expertise that has grown over the years are not the only aspects that set the company apart from others. ‘Over the last few years, environmental awareness has been strongly promoted within the company. We now work with photovoltaics, CHP and recycled water. We have invested heavily in these areas in recent years in order to position ourselves for the future.’ For Thomas Linke, this includes not only heightened environmental awareness, but also modern technology. ‘Digitalisation is a major topic for the company. In some cases, we are and think further ahead than our customers. We are currently having an app produced that can be placed completely on top of our software and can form an interface to our customers. This is how we create stronger synergies. The topic of robotics also drives us. Next week we will be setting up the twentieth robot for processing. The feeding process is increasingly controlled by robotic feeding systems. On the one hand, this is because of the accuracy, and on the other because of the personnel costs that we have to keep an eye on.’ However, this does not mean that the company is cutting jobs – quite the opposite, as the managing director explains: ‘We actually need more skilled workers and fewer unskilled workers. As our work is very specialised, we try to train our employees internally wherever possible. That has always worked very well so far.’ In 1996 the company had six employees. Willy Remscheid currently employs around 100 people. ‘We have now built up a permanent team of employees that I can count on. That is very important to me and our customers.’ When it comes to future viability, the managing director does not rely on employees alone. He also keeps an eye on the industry: ‘Many parts in the vehicle are being replaced by plastic. But we are noticing that the trend is moving more towards metal again, as the feel is different. That is why we will also be entering other sectors and have strengthened our sales organisation to this end. We always adapt to the market. We have already done this in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Thomas Linke wants to maintain the family ties to the company in order to keep the expertise that has been consolidated over the years within the company and thus focus on the future. ‘Our aim is to be able to hand over the company to the next generation at some point. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult. Developments have become so fast-moving, the challenges ever greater. That’s why we need to invest a lot here to prepare the next generation for all challenges.’

Original article published 5/2019 in Wirtschaftsforum:

2019-05 Wirtschaftsforum.PDF