Zoomed In Enthusiasm and a little bit of luck
Even though the third generation joined the family-run company Mapal several years ago, the founder's son, Dr Dieter Kress, still does not want to stop working. He is proud that he is still able to make a contribution to the success of the German-based company. This year, Dr Dieter Kress, the President of Mapal Dr. Kress KG, celebrated his 75th birthday.
Dr Kress joined the company almost half a century ago, in 1969. During this time, Mapal transformed from a small, regional manufacturer of screw taps into an international group. Today, it is one of the leading manufacturers of precision tools for machining cubic parts. According to Mapal, the company employs around 5,000 people worldwide and recorded a consolidated turnover of € 570 million in 2016.
In 1969, after completing his studies in mechanical engineering and business management, Dr Dieter Kress joined the company founded by his father, Dr Georg Kress, in 1950. While working, Dr Dieter Kress wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject of reaming. And the success of Mapal is based on “reaming”. In 1954, Dr Georg Kress bought the patent for an adjustable reamer from an Italian inventor. Some optimisation was required, but afterwards, the reamer achieved exceptional results. When Dr Dieter Kress joined the company in 1969, he developed high-performance special tools from the standard reamer product. “We always adjusted the tool to the specific situation of the customer,” Kress recalls. And with that, the spirit of Mapal started to emerge - always focusing on the customer and the best possible solution.
In addition to the reamer, Dr Dieter Kress cites other aspects that contributed to Mapal’s strong growth: “The demand for tools rose with the switch from transfer lines to machining centres. That is why we have steadily expanded our range of products since the 1990s.” Today, Mapal is a full-range supplier for machining cubic parts, covering the areas of reaming, fine boring and boring, drilling and countersinking, clamping, milling and hard turning as well as actuating. In addition to devices for setting, measuring and dispensing tools, the company also offers numerous services related to tools.
The company has been growing from within
Company start-ups and acquisitions around the globe formed a further aspect of the company’s growth. Today, the company is present in 44 countries. But as Kress emphasises: “We grew more from within than through acquisitions. It never was the culture of Mapal to buy large companies. Either we started the companies ourselves or bought smaller firms.” Dr Dieter Kress follows his own strategy when acquiring a company: “For me, it was always important to respect the company’s particular culture. The founders of these companies, such as WWS in Pforzheim or MILLER in Altenstadt, always stayed on as managing directors in the company.” And so Mapal was gradually able to expand.
“Of course you need a lot of luck for a company to grow like this,” Kress acknowledges. You also need the freedom to take your own decisions, even at short notice. For example, it was thanks to Dr Dieter Kress’s enthusiasm that Mapal invested in a 3D printer in 2013. “We only had a very vague idea of whether 3D printing would be useful and practical for tooling when we bought the first device,” Kress admits. Today, Mapal manufactures tools on three printers – with significant added value for customers.
The next generation has already joined in
And the future of Mapal as a family-owned business is also secure. Dr Jochen Kress has been at his father’s side in the company since 2008. And he is taking on more and more areas of responsibility as a member of the company’s executive board. “In contrast, I am withdrawing more and more from daily business. My son will take my place in the not-too-distant future” Dr Dieter Kress announces. “I am happy to see how he approaches the issues of today, for example, with the c-Com platform. But I am also content that I can still make a valuable contribution. That is the advantage of having your own company. I can continue to work as long as I want.”
In addition to his work at Mapal, Dr Dieter Kress is also very active on behalf of the region; for example, he was a member of the board of trustees at Aalen University for many years. He was a founding member of the P.E.G.A.S.U.S. association, which supports young companies in the area. Kress has also worked in an honorary capacity on various committees and initiatives on a supra-regional basis. He also headed the professional association for precision tools within the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) for many years.
Furthermore, as the then chairman of the national and international standards commission, Kress was materially involved in the introduction of the HSK standard, which has proved to be extremely important for flexible manufacturing. Dr Dieter Kress was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his services and commitment.
The cohesion between Dr Dieter Kress and his company is still very strong. The company president has celebrated his 75th birthday with a reception at Mapal for his family and invited guests. “It is important to me that the staff can celebrate as well,” Kress explains. That is why a big family celebration day was held at the Aalen plant last May.