60 years family-owned, 60 years with ups and downs, 60 years during which the turnover rose over 100 million Euro – the BLANK-Group intended to celebrate 60 mutual successful years on 26th and 27th June 2020. To thank the employees, a family day with a multifaceted programme was planned. For customers, suppliers and business partners we wanted to organize a lecture forum followed by a gala evening. But, like so many other things this year, corona crossed the plans. "This is not the only critical issue we have to deal with,“ says managing director Hubert Deutsch, "Expiring major orders and first signs of an economic slowdown have burdened us already before. Planned deliveries have been cancelled overnight and the company is faced with a challenging cost structure due to outdated business processes.“
Already in 2019, when taking over the management, Hubert Deutsch anounced changes in the company group. New strategies were elaborated. The dependance on the automotive sector is to be further reduced and new markets shall be developed. Production and administration should become more efficient: „lean“. At the turn of the year a new organisation structure and a new management board, consisting of Alexander Lenert, Jürgen Litz and Hubert Deutsch, was introduced. Juliane Blank represents the family in the management board of the BLANK Holding GmbH. 6 months later the BLANK-Group is in an upheaval. Several projects have been started like employee training and leadership development. An entry into the medical industry through the production of implants was possible. Digitalisation and automation processes have been started.
To expand the product portfolio and optimize process costs BLANK acquired the majority of BARUM AUTOMOTIVE S.R.L. in Romania. The previous owner family Barth, a long term business partner of the BLANK-Group, remains co-partner. The company was renamed in B² SMART PRECISION S.R.L. Mr. Wolfgang Barth and Mr. Alexander Lenert build the new management board. "This close cooperation combines synergies and enables further steps due to the excellent know-how on both sides,“ so Alexander Lenert. In future the BLANK-Group can offer precision parts in steel and alumimium beside the investment casting parts. B² SMART PRECISION S.R.L. generates 10 million Euro and has about 300 employees. Giving the orders to Romania improves the competitiveness and market attractiveness of the BLANK-Group which should result in a better order situation. The BLANK-Group looks forward to working and growing together with the company BARTH and realising new targets. Like in the previous years we will invest also in the Riedlingen location in future. "Strategic partnerships are the topic of the day," says Wolfgang Barth, "The variety of competences, which we will be able to offer together with Blank, strengthens our position in global competition. We look forward to shaping the future together with BLANK.“
Despite these measures the corona pandemic forced the group to take further drastic steps in April. The share of short-time work for salaried employees had to be increased rapidly. "Thanks to the possibilities of short-time working which we have in Germany we could avoid redundancies up to now,“ declares Jürgen Litz, commercial manager in the management board, also responsible for human resources. Meanwhile short-time work has been also introduced in the production.
Especially in the anniversary year, it is important to remember that together we have gone through many ups and downs in the company history. "Crisis years, such as the financial crisis of 2008/2009, could be overcome well above all by sticking together," says Juliane Blank, "The Blank family has always stood behind the company and the location of Riedlingen and we are doing our utmost to bring the company through this crisis in trusting cooperation with the management and the advisory board.“
This company culture is what makes BLANK special and goes back to the roots of the company. When Wilhelm Blank started the production of investment castings in 1960 with eight employees, a lot of manpower and inventive talent was needed to survive the challenging period of foundation. In 1973 his son Werner Blank joined the company and developed it until 2013 into one of the largest European investment casting specialists. "The last decade was characterised by full order books," explains managing director Hubert Deutsch, "We all knew it couldn't continue like this. After an unexpectedly rapid decline, we have reached a bottom, now we have to look ahead positively, because every crisis also opens up opportunities."
Werner Blank looks back on his many years of service with the company and concludes: "A company is only as successful as its employees. For 60 years the BLANK-Group has grown into a globally operating successful company. In my many years as CEO I have always seen the company and its employees as a family that sticks together in good times and bad. I wish us all this positive corporate spirit for the coming challenging months.“