‘A Once In a Lifetime Chance…’
As AUSA 2021 opens its doors in Washington, DC, this morning, Susanne Wiegand (Chairwoman of RENK Group) and Ted Trzesniowski (CEO, RENK America), update MON on the group’s US activities.
MON: In July, RENK acquired L3Harris’ Combat Propulsion Systems and relabeled the Muskegon, MI business RENK America. Can you provide a little more insight?
TT: At RENK America, we are the only defense manufacturer of both engines and transmissions in the world. Under one roof in Muskegon, we actually make both. The advantage: we know both sides, engine and transmission, very well. Following the acquisition by RENK, we come to the market even stronger, because we provide and take responsibility for the entire propulsion powerpack system – the customer does not need to call multiple vendors – just us. That resonates very well with primes and end-users. We also have individuals who are skilled to do maintenance and repairs in many Army bases. That we want to extend as we expand and introduce existing and new technology from the RENK Group in Germany for build here in the US.
SW: We’ve mentioned how complementary RENK Group and RENK America are, not just from the technological point of view, but also with respect to the platforms we are in and the customers we are serving. Very clearly, the US defence market is by far the largest in the world and it’s a rhetorical question: can we afford not to be there? It was no longer a good strategy to ignore the US. For RENK, this was a once in a lifetime chance to be in the US and not just physically there – but with references, technology, people and operations – from our great site in Muskegon.
MON: Is RENK America in any of the industry teams pursuing the Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) programme?
SW: We’re well aware of the programme, there is nothing new to us. If you see the contenders for the programme, with the exception of one, we are in business with all of them. We have a good relationship with them, they are well known. We have running programmes with them. And you can go back to legacy programmes, BRADLEY and others – these are our daily life. Our aim is to be in the next programme phase with at least one or two players, when the contenders’ list goes from five to three.
TT: There’s no question that one of the reasons, not the only one, for our Combat Propulsion Systems acquisition was to position ourselves better and improve our opportunities for participating in OMFV. We’ve heard the customers’ voice – not only from the primes but the end-user – about their expectations: it has to be a US product; it would need to include a hybrid drive with a capability to generate scalable power; proven hardware and not a ‘PowerPoint presentation’ during competition – and to be affordable. We are doing exactly all of that!
[Additional commentary from this interview will appear in MilTech 6/2021]
Marty Kauchak reporting from Washington, DC for MON