My half-year interview with Martin Krengel, CEO WEPA Group
by Tim Vormweg | Director Group Communications
It was a chilly January morning in Müschede when I met our CEO Martin Krengel for my half-year interview. What was his view of the past year and what will be the focal topics in the first half of 2023? Read on to see how he answered my questions.
Martin, Christmas has just been and gone. How did you celebrate at home?
Christmas Eve was wonderful and very cosy. After a very festive Christmas Mass in our home town, we spent the evening together as a family. The extended family then came together on Christmas Day – that’s a long-standing tradition. This hadn’t been possible in the previous two years due to the pandemic so I was especially looking forward to this. It was a wonderful family celebration! And as these get-togethers always show, the family continues to grow – and that’s great.
Looking back at 2022, what were the three highlights for you?
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to mention the sense of solidarity that was palpable throughout WEPA, especially when times were hard. I would like to sincerely thank all the employees for this. Without this solidarity, we wouldn’t have been able to rise to the challenges we faced last year. Another highlight for me was the fact that we were able to continue with our transformation process. It’s important to us that we have a clear goal and that we optimise our organisation. It’s quite something that we succeeded in doing this in spite of all the crisis challenges. This is something we can all be proud of. My third highlight – the fact that we were able to continue to work on our innovation topics in spite of the market crisis and roll out our new products made of Miscanthus and recycled cardboard. These innovative products contribute to our sustainability strategy. Both of the products are simply fantastic and I firmly believe that the end consumers will appreciate them.
How did our customers react to the product innovations?
GreenGrow has been exceptionally well received by our professional customers, in particular in specialist areas focusing on sustainability. Our customer event in Zeeland demonstrated how delighted everyone was with this sustainable product. It’s fantastic that our products made of recycled cardboard are very well received by our customers in both business units. All the customers have a positive general opinion of our new products. There has been no rejection of them, for example for colour reasons. This tells us the products are correctly positioned with their user-friendliness, their surface feel and their special sustainability attributes. It’s now a question of firmly establishing our concepts within our customers’ product ranges and of then introducing the end consumers to these concepts based on the right marketing activities. The combination of excellent quality and sustainability serves as the best foundation for also winning over the end consumers with our new products.
What will be WEPA’s focus in 2023?
Advancing our main projects will remain important in 2023 – we want to achieve further optimisations in the area of fibres. And in terms of energy, we want to reduce our consumption on the one hand and ramp up our investments in renewable energies, such as in photovoltaics, wind power, biogas and biomass power plants. Customer and market orientation will remain key too. We want to win our customers over with our sustainable concepts. This will be a key mission in the first half of 2023. A colleague put it nicely recently, saying ‘I look forward to the competition because we have so many positive topics.’ And I absolutely agree.
That sounds like a great deal of positive energy. And there’s something else which is very positive in 2023 – WEPA is turning 75. What are you looking forward to the most in relation to this?
It’s important to me that we are able to thank all the employees on the occasion of this anniversary. They have been a part of the company’s development over the past decades, have advanced the company and have remained loyal to the owner family. The 75th anniversary of an organisation with 4,000 employees at 13 sites in Europe – a family business which is future-oriented and stable – is something rather special. I look forward to visiting all 13 of our plants and of reflecting on and celebrating the past 75 years on-site together with the employees.
We look forward to that too. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Martin.