Management changeover - Heinz Rockenhäuser retires, Arnd Kulaczewski succeeds

PUBLISHED: 03 Dec 13

Heinz Rockenhäuser, former CEO of the Niehoff group, and his successor Arnd Kulaczewski (right)
Heinz Rockenhäuser, former CEO of the Niehoff group, and his successor Arnd Kulaczewski (right)

After 20 years as CEO of the Niehoff group, Heinz Rockenhäuser (65) retired at the end of October 2013. His successor is Arnd Kulaczewski, who previously was Managing Director (CEO) of the press builder Schuler SMG in Waghäusel, Germany.

The management changeover was the occasion for a big farewell party at the new factory in Schwabach where Niehoff welcomed nearly 200 invited guests. In short speeches, members of the partner families, the supervisory board as well as CEOs from partner, supplier and customer companies, professional associations, and public institutions expressed their thanks to Heinz Rockenhäuser for his tremendous effort. They emphasized that Heinz Rockenhäuser always managed the company like an entrepreneur and expanded it's business on an international level. Characteristics like his forsightedness, detailed technical, process and market knowledge, strength of purpose, reliability, honesty and last but not least entrepreneurial courage are impressive. In his closing speech Heinz Rockenhäuser pointed out the significance of teamwork. The market success of Niehoff has been the result of sticking to the good teamwork concept first introduced by the company founder Walter Niehoff. Heinz Rockenhäuser thanked the partners, the supervisory board, the extended management board and the staff for the trusting cooperation, especially for their willingness to give priority to company matters. He also thanked his wife for her patience and assistance in the family environment.

Growing significance on international markets
Heinz Rockenhäuser came to Niehoff in 1993 in a transition period following the unexpected death of the company founder Walter Niehoff in February 1990. As a mechanical engineer he had already lots of business experience, because for 15 years he had been CEO of a family owned enterprise specialized in grinding machines, machines for the production of cardboard packaging and precision tools. When he changed to Niehoff, Great Britain, France and Italy were Niehoff's main markets outside Germany with a share in turnover of 45 %. Today this share amounts to only 10 to 20 % while Eastern Europe including Russia, other continents and countries like India and China have gained considerably in importance. Under the leadership of Heinz Rockenhäuser Niehoff's turnover increased from 50 m euro to 125 m euro, consolidated in the Niehoff group even to 150 m euro.

The company has successfully undergone certification in line with DIN ISO 9001 and DIN ISO 14 001 quality standards and the EU Eco-Audit Scheme. The product portfolio has been expanded by a complete series of double twist bunching machines. Today Niehoff offers also braiding machines, double twist stranders with accessories, Hacoba rewinding machines, Bongard coilers and the RI-series of continuous resistance and induction annealing systems, which were originally designed and built by the joint venture NBM. Niehoff entered into partnership with Steuler-Anlagenbau in the field of electro-plating processes. Niehoff expanded its market share and set up branches and subsidiaries in the People´s Republic of China (1995), in India (1997), in the Czech Republic (2000), in Russia (2005) and in Dubai (2007). The market position of the US subsidiary, which was created in 1985, was strengthened by the takeover and merger with Endex (1999). Production capacity was increased at many sites in order to meet growing demand. Moreover, partnerships were established with the rolling mill manufacturer Bühler Würz Kaltwalztechnik and the lead extruder and CRRS cable repair system manufacturer HFSAB, in which Niehoff was able to acquire a majority share at the beginning of 2013. In 2010, Niehoff commissioned the first phase of a brand-new factory at its headquarters in Schwabach, one year later followed by a factory in China. Heinz Rockenhäuser championed junior programs and the social involvement of the company. Events which Niehoff, together with other companies and neighboring universities, used to interest young people in engineering disciplines, must be mentioned particularly. March 1996 saw the publication of the first edition of the customer magazine "NIEHOFF-News", now called "NIEHOFF Magazine", which keeps friends and customers of the company informed about activities at Niehoff twice a year.

More time for family, culture and history
Heinz Rockenhäuser has a good reason to look back happily on his working life. Niehoff is highly regarded as a leading company in it´s industry. Moreover, there are two facts indicating the company's continuity and reliability: this is only the third change of leadership in the company´s sixty years of existence while the fluctuation in the company has always been very low. Heinz Rockenhäuser leaves the company but will remain connected to the wire and cable industry as President of the IWCEA International Wire and Cable Exhibitors Association and Vice President of the Interkabel Association. In an interview published in the most recent issue of the NIEHOFF Magazine, he said that he will also continue to be active for social institutions on a voluntary basis, but that he is also looking forward to traveling with his wife without being pressed for time and without having to think about business deadlines. Particular interests concern culture, history, foreign languages and studies on industrial and economic history. And finally, Heinz Rockenhäuser looks forward to having much more time with his family.

An experienced successor
Arnd Kulaczewski (48), successor of Heinz Rockenhäuser, comes from the Schuler Group and the press manufacturer Schuler SMG in Waghäusel, near Karlsruhe, Germany. He was born in Hanover, Germany and completed an apprenticeship as a machine fitter with a reputable manufacturer of plastic machines. From 1989 to 1994 he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Hanover and opted to specialize in "design engineering and development". After completing his studies with distinction, he worked as a design engineer with Schuler Pressen in Göppingen, the traditional market leader for presses and systems in the metal forming industry.

Large scale projects, international activities
As a design engineer, Arnd Kulaczewski worked with increasing project and managerial responsibility, and in 2005 was appointed to oversee design engineering as a whole in the "Large Mechanical Press Systems - Automotive" division at Schuler Pressen. With around 100 employees with qualifications in mechanics, fluid engineering and electrical engineering, he was in charge of major projects such as the design of press lines and transfer presses for the international markets of the automotive industry and its suppliers. In 2006 the Schuler board appointed him Managing Director of the subsidiary Schuler SMG, the competence center for hydraulic press applications in the Schuler Group, which currently employs around 670 workers at two sites. There he focussed on the restructuring and further development of the production portfolio, whilst strengthening the company´s market position and global sales at the same time. Kulaczewski's responsibilities also included managerial roles reaching across Schuler AG sites and the group as a whole, for example at Schuler SMG's Chinese sales and service company in Tianjing. In addition, he worked on the coordination of group-wide development, sales and marketing activities in the field of applications in forging technology.

Arnd Kulaczewski is sure that his many years of extensive experience in sophisticated mechanical engineering with international orientation will enable him to make a vital and lasting contribution to keeping Niehoff on a successful course.

Maschinenfabrik Niehoff GmbH & Co KG, Germany
Tel: + 49 91 22977 0

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