25 years of groninger USA
What initially began in a rented office in Basking Ridge in the state of New Jersey with just one employee has developed into an indispensable, important pillar within the groninger Group. Today, 70 people are employed at the US branch in Charlotte, North Carolina. And the trend is upward.
"North America has always been one of groninger's most important markets," describes global CEO Jens Groninger. So it's no wonder that the packaging machine builder established its own overseas subsidiary just 17 years after the German company was founded in 1980.
"The growing customer base had made this step necessary in 1997," recalls the CEO. Previously, North American customers had received supplies and services exclusively from Crailsheim. "At some point, that no longer worked. We had to and wanted to expand."
25 years later, it is clear that it was a very good decision. Today, the American subsidiary groninger USA LLC is able to service complete fill-finish lines with its own personnel. Uniquely, the company even designs and manufactures required spare and format part solutions in-house in Charlotte, NC. This is real added value - both for the family-owned company's German sites in Crailsheim and Schnelldorf and for its North American customers. "We can satisfy customer needs up to three times faster - especially when it comes to spare parts supply," says Heiner Dornburg, who has been CEO at groninger USA since 2018.
The subsidiary relocated to Charlotte in 2012 and has steadily expanded in recent years. Investments of around $1,000,000 have been made in three new CNC machines to further increase the vertical range of in-house manufacturing and to offer customers faster on-site service and better product availability. At the same time, its personnel continuously grew.
"The close cooperation with our German facilities and the constant transfer of knowledge are immensely important," Heiner Dornburg emphasizes. Jens Groninger explains why: "Our own quality standards for our systems and service levels are very, very high and are also expected by our customers. Our American colleagues are, therefore, also committed to this groninger standard."
US employee training at groninger’s German facilities is just as much a part of the advanced training measures as the Apprenticeship Program, which groninger USA has been offering for mechatronics technicians and CNC machine operators since the fall of 2014. The program trains junior staff according to the German model. "In the United States, training based on this principle - in which theory and practice virtually merge - is still an exception, one for which we receive a great deal of recognition," Dornburg describes.
For the anniversary year 2022, groninger USA has a lot planned.
"This year, we will continue to drive forward various process improvements. We use our positive momentum in-house and expand local partnering to further grow the localization of services. This includes own personnel and in-house machine tools," says Heiner Dornburg, summarizing the goals set for 2022.
Of course, employees and customers should also benefit from the anniversary: On April 29, the exact day of the anniversary, there will be a celebration for all employees after a reception for partners and representatives of the city and region. The evening before, groninger USA will open its doors to employees' families for National "Bring Your Child to Work" day. A customer event will be held in September, pandemic conditions permitting.
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