Tough, tactical, innovative

May 2017 — It’s quite an achievement. 125 years of high standing in the market, while constantly setting technical standards, mostly expanding, internationally involved, and at the same time still producing at home: extrusion and cable systems specialist Troester has many reasons to celebrate.

Working in the international cable industry? Then chances are you know Troester. And if you don’t, you really should. The company makes plants for cable production. Or to be more precise: extrusion systems plus control and regulation technology, complete cable lines and individual machines, as well as solutions for cable and core coating, just as is needed for high-voltage cables. Without these elements, cable manufacture would not be possible.

95% of the systems go abroad. Focus is on Asia and the two Americas. The “global players” of the industry can be counted on one hand and Troester is one of them. This summer, the company will have been in the market for 125 years. Sustainable, tough and well managed, this company is likely to have many more years ahead of it.

A glance back in time sheds light on the opportunities that lie ahead. Engineer Paul Troester founded the company in 1892. Initially, it specialised in machines for the processing of caoutchouc and gutta-percha. It was around this time that Hanover established itself as the centre of the German rubber industry, fuelled by the fast-growing demand for products and tyres for vehicles of all kinds. Among the young company’s customers was the largest enterprise in the Hanover area, today's Continental AG.

When Paul Troester died in 1912, his company was well established and in good shape. His successor, Troester’s former company secretary, was dealt a less happy hand. In the 1920s, the firm’s very existence came under threat. It was not until the subsequent business manager, Carl Bredemeyer, took the lead that the company started to bounce back. After initially only leasing the company, he finally bought it in 1929.
Bredemeyer brought a sense of continuity to the firm. The trained blacksmith and mechanical engineer modernised the production and internal processes, which in turn made the construction of rubber machines more efficient. In the 1930s, Troester benefitted from the development of synthetic rubber and thermoplastics. This opened the door to new business sectors such as the construction of extruders for the processing of unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Largely destroyed during World War II, production was quickly resumed once the fighting had stopped. During the “Export Fair Hanover” staged by the British occupying power in 1947, Troester once again presented itself to the public. A production hall was inaugurated in May 1950 and a new administration building was built shortly afterwards.

Following in Carl Bredemeyer’s footsteps, his son Hans-Ulrich – a trained bank clerk – led the company from 1957 onwards. He rebuilt the firm’s entire machinery and expanded it. New developments came into focus such as extruders, calenders and rolling mills. At the beginning of the 1960s, Troester was the first company worldwide to introduce the “rubber vacuum extruder”. Troester founded a US subsidiary in 1968. Later they bought the complete production programme from the bankrupt Bremen-based company Christoffers. Production lines for the cable industry and complete cable systems have been part of the firm’s portfolio ever since.

In 1976, Karl-Heinz Schmidt took over the helm and was in this role for almost three decades. Schmidt was very much a “home-grown” manager. In 1955, he was employed by the company as a development engineer, advancing to production manager in 1960 and to overall technical manager in 1967. In 1974, he became a personally liable partner alongside Hans-Ulrich Bredemeyer.

Technologically one step ahead

Troester continued to expand under Schmidt’s leadership. In 1990, another office building and a 70m long development hall known as the “Troester Technical Centre”, were added. Technically sophisticated systems for the processing of rubber and plastic became a development focus and included, for example, multiple extrusion heads for the tyre and cable industry. Today, they are in use around the world, as is the “QSM” cross-flow mixing extruder, which was engineered together with the Institute for Plastics Processing at the Technical University Aachen/Germany. All this paved the way for meeting more complex customer requirements. Troester increasingly became a provider of complete lines for the extrusion of cables, tyres and technical rubber products.

Since 2003, Troester has been directed by manager and doctor of economics Peter Schmidt, and technical president and engineer Bernd Pielsticker. The latter is also a “home-grown” manager who has been working for the company since 1988. Schmidt joined the extended company management in 1991 and is managing partner since 2011.

Today, the company employs more than 600 people: currently 485 in Hanover, 90 in China and 40 at the Swiss subsidiary X-Compound GmbH. 210 are involved in manufacturing, typically as skilled workers. The company has also enlisted the skills of approximately 100 engineers. Employees stay with the company for an average of 16 years. The average age of the staff is 43, making the team slightly younger than the norm for the German mechanical engineering industry.

Professional in-house training – which is also indicative of a policy of sustainability – is given high priority. Accordingly, Troester is currently training 20 apprentices. Troester frequently supports doctoral theses and dissertations for master’s degrees and bachelor studies, which also generates continuity.

Innovation in products and production technology can be measured – though not necessarily – against the number of patents a company has to its name. Troester currently holds five so-called “living patents”, which means that they are currently in use. Even more important is non-order-related research and development. Troester invests more or less 2% of its annual turnover in R+D. In 2016, this amounted to EUR 116m. In 2017, the total is expected to rise to EUR 125m.

The great demand for energy – especially in the emerging economies – has created a good business climate for power cables. The increasingly decentralised generation of power in Germany and Europe through the sun, wind and water also has its part to play. After all, the current has to be transported hundreds of thousands of miles by high-performance, safe cables.

The company’s prospects are, therefore, good. With Troester’s machinery, automation and control technology, complete lines can be realised for the production of CCV cables for MV, HV and EHV cables, VCV cables for HV and EHV cables, rubber CV lines LV and MV cables, lines for sheathing LV, MV and HV cables as well as core insulation.

Troester GmbH+Co. KG
Am Brabrinke 1-4
30519 Hanover/Germany
Phone: +49 511 87040

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