When the purchase contract was signed in August 1991, and Germaplast GmbH was sold to the company NITTEL Halle, no one had any idea that the foundation for a German success story had just been laid.
Following two extremely difficult years, VEB Germaplast's workforce had dwindled to just a handful of employees, most of whom we were able to keep on in the newly founded company within our Group. In our discussions with these employees prior to the purchase of Germaplast GmbH, we were impressed with their high level of training and motivation, which, in addition to the excellent geographical location of the company, ultimately clinched the deal for us.
In August 1991, 42 employees therefore got a new employer and were consequently able to look forward to a secure future. Although it was not possible to continue with existing production, work recommenced with relocated machines in September 1991; turnover in this short fiscal year amounted to DM 850,000.
In addition to machinery and mechanical equipment, the first investments were primarily made in renewing the heating system, which up until then had been run on lignite from a boiler house, and also new sanitary facilities. For nine years, we managed to get by extremely well with this old, but perfectly serviceable building fabric, which served as the basis for the further development of the company. In 1991, we were the first company in Europe to start manufacturing seamless liners for transportation and storage containers using the thermal moulding method, a brand new product area that grew to generate turnover of more than EUR 2,600,000 by 2010.
In 2000, we were practically bursting at the seams, which is why it made sound sense for us to purchase the neighbouring premises of a former production plant in order to pursue our original building project.
A state-of-the-art production facility and warehouse was built to accommodate our entire thermal moulding production. At the same time, we invested in a sheet extruder so as to start manufacturing semi-finished products to enable us to produce our products more flexibly, and at lower cost.
In 2007, the entire production process, parts of which were still being carried out in Raunheim, was relocated to Halle and the comprehensive restructuring and expansion of the company initiated. The number of employees rose to 106.
Also in 2007, we invested more than EUR 2.5 million in bringing our production and administration processes and facilities, as well as the finished goods store, up to date, something from which we stand to benefit greatly in the future.
The decision to focus on Germany was a strategic decision, whereby over the last few years we have consciously bucked the trend of relocating production to Eastern Europe and Asia. While our first decade was marked by continuous growth, external influences played a major role during our second decade. Although these external influences did not jeopardise the company's long-term positive development, they did provoke short-term shocks, in particular among our clients, accompanied by fall in turnover. Over the past decade, this has happened just twice: once in 2001 and once in 2008/2009. Even today, we view further global economic development with due scepticism. We are learning that we need to be more flexible and that cycles are becoming shorter.
In this difficult environment, it seems to be more important than ever for us to keep our goals firmly in sight and to continue to prepare the path for implementing and meeting these goals. As a medium-sized company, we traditionally do not define ourselves on the basis of short-term profit maximisation, rather our responsibility to our company and employees is to achieve long-term, healthy growth and safeguard jobs. For 20 years now, we have benefited from the commitment, experience and loyalty of our employees in Halle. Today, we are the only manufacturer of plastic liners that produces over 100% of its products in Germany. And we want this to continue to be the case. We are currently training six apprentices in various vocational fields and employ over 110 people in an interesting workplace at our site in Germany.
Our task now is to secure this workplace for the long term, while ensuring that we remain competitive in a tough price war. This is possible only by means of carrying out on-going research and development in new products and processes, on the basis of which we are able to continuously cut unit labour costs.
Our automation of production processes began in 2005 with the commissioning of a machine for beer tank inliners and continued with the installation of an automatic round-bottom liner machine in 2009. We are currently working on a new process technology that is set to revolutionise the production of special liners.
With our accomplishments to date and commitment to our German site and employees, we are today the leading manufacturer of plastic foil special liners and a reliable partner for all our clients and suppliers. We will continue to strive to consolidate and strengthen our leading position.