Interview with Ronald Gerschewski, CEO WELP Group
In an interview with Ronald Gerschewski, CEO WELP Group, MONCh was informed that the company offers customers the services of all five of the group’s locations in Europe.
MONCh: What significance has the German defence and security market for WELP Group?
R. Gerschewski: Whereas in former times, mainly foreign regions were supplied, the European and German market have become more important for such products within the last three years, which is due to diverse procurement programmes initiated by the authorities.
MONCh: What characterises the holistic approach of the WELP Group of companies in comparison to other competitors? In particular, I am thinking of the Group’s competencies to represent all stages of automobile production – from design to serial production.
R. Gerschewski: We believe that mainly the automotive background of our company represents a substantial difference to our market competitors. On the basis of our experience gained of meanwhile 40 years as developer, prototype constructor and tool manufacturer, as well as serial supplier for the automotive industry, WELP Group is trimmed for innovation, efficiency, and quality. Customers from the security sector can benefit from this experience since our Armouring Division develops and manufactures its products on the basis of dynamic automotive requirements and of material competences of the group of companies. This particularity mainly becomes obvious for safety products, which we develop as system supplier for the automobile manufacturers.
MONCh: How fast are you able to supply civil armoured vehicles – taking into consideration customer-specific modifications – for a potential demand in Germany? Can you comment on the example of armoured vehicles already delivered for SEK units in the State of Saxony?
R. Gerschewski: Of course, this depends on a large scale on the product enquiry itself. If our Group has already developed a suitable armouring solution as armouring kit for the base vehicle in question and if we can grab from our modular kit for specific requirements or safety-relevant special equipment, the implementation is feasible within weeks or months. Honestly speaking, the numerous details requested are often crucial for the delivery time. The vehicles for the SEK could be handed over within a year including new development of some specific requirements. Complete new development and testing of an armoured vehicle takes longer. Currently, we have approximately 16 vehicle armouring combinations in our basic offer that can be combined with modules of a comprehensive equipment list.
MONCh: Does WELP Group associate the marketing of its products for a (potential) German customer a close cooperation with other (even military) companies or partners in Germany?
R. Gerschewski: Our success as system supplier of mainly civil armoured vehicles is based considerably on the great added-value depth within our group of companies. But of course, we work together on a basis of trust with partners and suppliers of specific areas, for example for radio technology, electronics, or vehicle registrations.
MONCh: What does the marketing strategy for potential military customers (Special Forces) look like?
R. Gerschewski: First of all, our customers look for a partner who bears the overall responsibility for the requested product. The structure and added-value depth of the Group offers a good basis, which is completed by involving trustful suppliers and cooperation partners. Consequently, the customers obtain both in the primary market and the aftermarket, as well as in training and service features, provided by one responsible contact.
MONCh: How does the testing of material combinations take place in all development and manufacturing phases?
R. Gerschewski: Our colleagues from the Development and Quality Division are very familiar with diverse tools for ensuring quality processes of the automotive industry. The planning for these processes already starts at the development stage and continues to the final inspection of the vehicles. Protection material, as well as its connection technologies – such as welding, bonding and others – is subject to special testing. Our in-house material development is responsible for that by using our internal material laboratory and shooting range, in which we can test not only armour plates but even entire vehicles. Apart from own testing and ballistic and blast certification, external institutes and educational establishments for development, testing, and quality assurance will be consulted.
In order ensure a high production quality, inspection during production is carried our permanently or on a random basis. Comprehensive sensors and infrared cameras ensure permanent monitoring of the production processes.
WELP Group at a Glance
WELP Group consists of Farmingtons Automotive GmbH, IndiKar Individual Karosseriebau GmbH, pgam advanced technologies Ltd., Dressel + Höfner Automotive GmbH and S.C. Dressel + Höfner International S.R.L and develops and manufactures tailor-made solutions for the industry and automotive industry. The group is one of the premium suppliers to numerous car and commercial vehicle manufacturers, also having a comprehensive competence in the development and manufacturing of armoured vehicles and modules as well as other special purpose vehicles.
MONCh: What significance has the topic of quality management and what are your standards?
R. Gerschewski: The topic of quality management is of course enormously important, as we guarantee safety with our products for our customers. The quality management already starts in the development and extends to the operation of the vehicles. Internal and external audits help us review and improve our processes regularly to cope with any requirements at any time. We combine standards of the automotive industry with subject-specific standards of the safety industry. Examples include: DIN 2303 Q1+Q2; DIN 2303 class Q3 for diverse processes; ISO 3834-2, ISO 14001, ISO 5001, IATF16949, and ISO 9001.
MONCh: Are there any considerations with this complex know-how to target the international market that is increasingly coming into focus? How do you manage that and where do you set (regional) priorities?
R. Gerschewski: Basically, we already do that. Currently, our foreign activities are strongly marked by the demand of our customers from international NGOs or other German customers. There are some activities at European locations and in the Middle East. We are going to extend our existing sales and partner network here significantly in the near future. Own foreign locations – also for local content requirements – are conceivable scenarios, too. There are discussions with local partners. The main point is that our growth results organically, which, in first instance, means that we manage our activities ourselves and integrate them in order to place our corporate values equally at all locations. Only this ensures sustainable product and service quality „Made by WELP.“
MONCh: Thank you.