In 2017, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe with its headquarters in Hamburg increased its sales by 56 million EUR to 520 million EUR. With this figure, the specialist in food and feed ingredients achieved 12 percent growth last year. The continuing positive development of the family business is due very largely to expansion of its international presence and intensive applications research. These have also led to the group being rated as one of Germany’s Top Twenty most innovative medium-sized enterprises. Worldwide, the group has over 1,300 employees, 920 of them in Germany. This, too, represents an appreciable increase.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is made up of twelve independent specialist firms in Germany that develop, manufacture and distribute functional ingredients for the production of food and animal feed. They include internationally well-known companies such as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, SternVitamin, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, HERZA Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt. Each firm has a high level of competence in its particular field, with experts from industry and research, for example in baked goods and pasta, dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, chocolate, and also flavourings, lecithin, enzymes and vitamins. All the companies’ activities revolve around applications research at the Stern-Technology Center “Futuremaker” in Ahrensburg, near Hamburg, where each of the specialist firms has access to the pooled knowledge and skills of the whole group through a network of excellence. 85 percent of the goods sold by the independently operating companies are exported to customers in over 130 countries.
In many branches of the food industry the specialist units have become world market leaders, for example when it comes to standardizing the staple food “flour” with the aid of enzymes, fortifying foods with micronutrients or developing customized stabilizing systems for dairy products, deli foods or meat products.
With 16 affiliates abroad, each of which has a profound knowledge of the region and in some cases research facilities and production capacity of its own, the group secures access to the most important markets. CEO Torsten Wywiol has pushed ahead with this far-sighted strategy together with the managers of the individual companies. Last year, for example, a total of 20 million EUR was invested in the enlargement of production capacities and the broad range of applications research. In this connection, special emphasis was placed on extending the international network. New applications laboratories in Africa, Asia and America bring the employees even closer to their customers and are able to develop tailor-made solutions in cooperation with them on the spot.
“A management concept based on equality and flexible structures: these are what constitute the DNA of our group. They are the source of the exceptional innovative power that distinguishes us from the major corporations in the international market for food and feed”, says Torsten Wywiol. This again is reflected in the current ranking published by the Munich Strategy Group and the business magazine “Wirtschaftswoche”: in 2017 they rated the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe as one of Germany’s 20 most innovative medium-sized enterprises.
“We need creativity, and we encourage it specifically”, says Torsten Wywiol, who manages the group of companies as its CEO in the second generation. He sees the basis for this in a large measure of freedom for the individual employee: scope for initiative, that only the family business with its short hierarchies can offer. It is not only the group structures that encourage creativity; it is also the passion of its founder, Volkmar Wywiol, for art. This passion accompanies the employees at their workplaces, from the offices to the production plant. Since 2012, the group of companies has run the Stern-Wywiol Gallery, a forum for contemporary art, at its headquarters by the Alster Lake in the centre of Hamburg. The objective is to support young artists and inspire employees to view the world from a new angle.
In order to continue this positive development, the group intends to invest a further 42 million EUR in enlarging research and production capacities in Germany and abroad in the next two years. For the current year, Torsten Wywiol is expecting a further increase in sales to about 570 million EUR.