Company profilE - Neuman & Esser


Company profilE - Neuman & Esser

Company profilE

Side by side with mafa Wurzen

The NEUMAN & ESSER GROUP (NEA) can tell one of

the positive stories about German reunification with its

take-over of MAFA Wurzen in 1991. Other examples of

West German companies taking over firms in the East

shortly after reunification often didn’t end as happily, as

tales of exploitation and asset stripping abounded. As

almost everywhere else in the GDR, the staff at MAFA

Wurzen felt insecure, explains Klaus Peters, Managing

Partner at NEA from 1974 to 2007, and current advisory

board member. Although he clearly stated from the

start, “We are a German family business and if we come

over here, then we mean to stay and invest!” This firm

resolution was carried out. NEA currently employs 135

staff in Wurzen, the town where the poet Joachim

Ringelnatz was born. The production site has long since

become an integral part of the group. Along with Übach-

Palenberg and Stassfurt, Wurzen is one of the three

NEA global production centers.

The future lies in the East

Alexander Peters has been Technical Director in Wurzen

since 2001. He and his sister Stefanie manage the NEA

Holding as Managing Partners, since their father retired

from operative business. When taking up his position in

Wurzen in 2001, Alexander Peters was able to celebrate

the 10 th anniversary of the production site as part of the

NEA GROUP the same year, and said at the time, “This

celebration is a signal to our staff, that our common

future in Wurzen is bright”.

NEA had already been doing business in Eastern

Europe since the beginning of the seventies. The first

systems and compressors were sold to Czechoslovakia,

Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. At that time, the

countries in the Eastern Block were members of

“Comecon”, the body for reciprocal economic assistance.

“The GDR was the main supplier of machine

tools in Comecon”, explains Klaus Peters. In spite of

this, NEA was unable to sell any machines from the

Wurzen site in the initial period following the take-over.

“No one wanted to buy anything made in the GDR”, so

machines were finished up to final assembly in Wurzen,

then tested in Übach-Palenberg and marketed from


an exciting chapter

The most exciting moment for Klaus Peters, however,

was the phased take-over of the „VEB Kombinat

Grimma“, which was put up for sale in Jan. 1990. This

consisted of the production site MAFA Wurzen, an iron

foundry and the works’ kindergarten and central canteen.

On March 20, 1990, Klaus Peters signed a declaration

of intent to take over the infrastructure and staff at

Works III, which manufactured oil-free standard compressors

for air and technical gases. In order to become

economically viable and survive, it became necessary

to spin this off from the Combine and create an

independent company. As a result, MAFA was turned

into a limited company, of which NEUMAN & ESSER

owned 49%.

Klaus Peters began to renovate and restructure the company,

but not without first securing a guarantee of 10

million DM for the BV and V compressor series, should

the deal unwind.

In the autumn of 1990, West German companies were

given permission to take a 100% share in East German

businesses. NEUMAN & ESSER immediately took

advantage of this opportunity and renamed MAFA

Wurzen, the NEUMAN & ESSER Maschinenfabrik

Wurzen GmbH.

On Feb. 15, 1991, Klaus Peters completed the purchase

backed by 100% of the staff. He has never regretted this

move. He saw that there was a large reservoir of highlytrained

employees, to whom it was important to offer

opportunities, so that they would remain.

The catalyst for decentralization

After the take-over, NEA invested 14 million DM in buildings,

infrastructure, and tooling machines in order to

bring both centers in East and West up to the same level.

This intention was carried out, right up to the staff tennis

court. The work processes, order processing and cooperation

with suppliers also had to be adjusted to the

standards set in Übach-Palenberg. The relationship

between the plants is still being actively promoted to this

day, according to Alexander Peters, “and we continue to

invest. No customer should get the impression that they

are receiving lower quality goods from eastern Germany,

or our staff feel that their production center is less important

than those in the west. There has never been a

two-class society at NEA. We have always led the way

in this as a family-run business.”

The take-over of Wurzen, according to Klaus Peters,

was the spark that ignited the growth of NEUMAN &

ESSER, transforming it from a single company into a

global business group. Of course, one could have increased

the size of the plant at Übach-Palenberg, but

this was a faster method. From one day to the next, NEA

increased its production capacity by 70% and, over

night, was able to fulfill significantly more orders. In

1992, the first business on foreign soil was founded, with

the creation of NEA Italia S.r.l. in Milan. “This is when

the internationalization began, which had always been

our vision”, explains Alexander Peters. Since then, the

business has grown to include fifteen companies for

systems technology, sales and service, located in Italy,

Egypt, China, USA, Brazil, Russia, India, Thailand and

the United Arab Emirates.

STaSSKol another great decision

Following this success story, a second one was to be

written in central Germany. In the year 2001, Klaus

Peters initiated the take over of STASSKOL Kolbenstangendichtungen

GmbH in Stassfurt, a longestablished

industrial center in the Salzland. He quickly

recognized the resources this producer of piston seals

and spare parts for compressors had to offer. With an

investment of 6 million EUR, NEA built a new building at

a different site in Stassfurt, as well as a testing center

that is unrivaled by any in the industry, this year adding

a large materials center for materials production.

STASSKOL responded with highly motivated staff, who

managed to increase turnover six fold within eight years.

The company, which commemorated its 90 th anniversary

this year, has a further reason to celebrate.

Next year the administration building will be enlarged

by 360 m².

alexander peters Klaus peters

Excerpt from an interview with Klaus Peters, Zeitungsverlag Aachen, Oct. 2010

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