Since February 1, 2022, 1zu1 is part of the Swedish Prototal Group. A lot has happened in the past months and the integration into the group is almost complete. Prototal CEO Jan Löfving and 1zu1 Managing Director Hannes Hämmerle report on successful interactions and provide insight into the growth strategy. For founder and CEO Wolfgang Humml, his time at 1zu1 will soon come to an end after more than 26 years. He will retire at the end of 2023.
How did the integration into the group go?
Hannes Hämmerle: We manage 1zu1 as before, coordinate closely with Prototal, supply all relevant data and share our know-how in the group. The trust and open exchange is a great benefit for everyone. This also applies to the commitment to the location: Money earned in Dornbirn will continue to be invested here in the future. This will secure our growth in the long term.
Jan Löfving: So far, everything is going according to plan. 1zu1 is the youngest member of the group. Cooperation between our units and those of 1zu1 is developing excellently. As we speak, an international sales meeting is taking place here at the company. Everyone is learning about each other's capacities and potential - a very valuable learning process.
What potentials and synergies of the Prototal Group was 1zu1 able to exploit in the first year?
Hannes Hämmerle: We are expanding our vertical range of manufacture from prototype to high-volume series and increasing our clout. In doing so, we benefit from the series expertise as well as the diverse technologies, certifications and materials within the group. Before the end of this year, we will add further materials to our range using 3D printing - including flame-retardant ones.
Jan Löfving: All Prototal companies are united by their high quality standards. Within the group, 1zu1 stands for the top quality segment in 3D printing, vacuum casting and tooling with aluminum tools. We can now offer these high-precision services in other countries and markets.
How does that look like in practice for customers?
Hannes Hämmerle: Many companies in the Prototal Group, including 1zu1, have ISO certifications in 3D printing and injection molding for medical technology, for example. This extends into the millions of units at our sister company in southern Sweden. In the future, we will therefore be able to support our customers from the prototype to the small series in the clean room with aluminum molds to the "medical grade" series product and thus cover the entire production chain. Previously, the end of the line was tens of thousands of units, but now we can produce series in the millions.
What other interactions arise in the group?
Wolfgang Humml: We benefit from the network and the other companies from us. During the group's internal evaluation of the best software solution, our self-developed program was identified as a best practice example. The software is now to be implemented as a new standard throughout the Group over the next two years under the name "Prototal ONE". This kind of knowledge transfer gives us all a head start.
What goals have 1zu1 and Prototal set themselves for the future?
Hannes Hämmerle: At 1zu1, we are aiming for growth of more than 10 percent in the coming year - in terms of revenue and personnel. We are already one of the leading quality providers in the DACH region. As part of Prototal, we can open up new markets in Central and Northern Europe.
Jan Löfving: By 2025, we want to more than double the Prototal Group's sales. In order to support our customers throughout Europe in the future with all technologies across the entire product lifecycle, we are focusing on organic growth and on further acquisitions. In doing so, we are pursuing two goals: Entering new geographical areas and complementing our offering in promising markets where we are already present.
Hannes Hämmerle: In this way, we are improving our position as a partner for internationally active industry. Big companies work with big companies. Together we are stronger.
What criteria are central for Prototal when acquiring companies?
Jan Löfving: We focus on well-functioning, locally anchored companies and give them freedom in terms of management and further development. Instead of central management, we take on a coordinating and supporting role. We are convinced that we can generate more value in this way.
Hannes Hämmerle: The Swedish way is very different from the Austrian or German way. We get involved, are heard and can continue our successful work.
Topic climate protection: What measures are planned or already being implemented in the future on the topic of sustainability?
Hannes Hämmerle: Sweden is ahead of Central Europe and that is helping us now. In the future, every company will increasingly have to deal with sustainability. We don't want to be a follower, but to lead the way as a "driver" and help shape the future. One example: We are reducing transport routes and thus lowering emissions. As a corporate network with many locations in Europe, we can produce with consistent quality from Norway to Italy, wherever the customer is located. In addition, we are already using bio-based materials such as PA 11 made from castor oil in 3D printing.
Jan Löfving: We plan to use the 2022 data to produce our first Sustainability Report. We are also currently working on a life cycle analysis (LCA) to compare the carbon footprint of the two 3D printing technologies SLS and HP (Multi Jet Fusion) with injection molding. In addition, we are pushing the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) material and are already manufacturing components with a high PCR content in Sweden.
The takeover was also a succession plan. What will happen for you as founder and CEO in the coming years?
Hannes Hämmerle: In the future, there will only be one managing director or CEO at 1zu1, and that will be me from 2024. Of course, the tasks will not become less. That's why we are building a management team that is largely already in place and brings years of 1zu1 experience to the table.
Wolfgang Humml: I will retire at the end of 2023 and am now devoting myself to the optimal handover of my areas of responsibility: production, HR, IT and quality assurance/management. The succession process has been on my mind for quite some time and has also been very intensive at times. After so many years and decisions on short notice, it's a powerful transition.
Who will take over your agendas in the future?
Wolfgang Humml: My son Christian (Humml) has already been responsible for the entire production for two years. In terms of personnel, we have strengthened our team with Inge Rein (Interview only in german) in January 2022, and in the area of QA/QM we were able to develop a perfect solution for the management with Bettina Schedler, a long-time 1zu1 employee. On January 1, 2023, our new IT manager William Giesinger will start. He has been responsible for our infrastructure for more than seven years and knows the server and network structure very well. So we are very well positioned.
What other projects do you have lined up before you retire?
Wolfgang Humml: As already mentioned, Prototal will rely on the software solution developed by 1zu1 in the future. This is a highly complex system with countless interfaces. The group-wide implementation of the individualized ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) program will keep us busy for quite a while, and I will support the team as best I can and contribute my ideas. As a process analyst, I am always on the lookout for improvements in workflow and automation potential to reduce errors. The changeover offers us all a great opportunity to take the next step forward.
Finally, a question for Mr. Löfving: Have the expectations been met?
Jan Löfving: They were even exceeded. With the competence and quality of 1zu1, we enrich our portfolio and create a unique selling point as an overall provider.