Interview Meusburger celebrates 50 years in tool and mould making
€160 million turnover in 2013, 800 members of staff and more than 12,000 customers – these are the impressive Meusburger figures 50 years after the company was founded. In 1964, Georg Meusburger started his one-man business as a tool and mould maker.
ETMM: When you were 28 you founded your own company. What was your vision as a young entrepreneur?
Georg Meusburger: I had already seen a lot of the world as I had spent five years working as a toolmaker for different companies in the United States and also travelled through South America for eight months. I first wanted to set up shop in San Francisco, but then I listened to my father’s advice and decided to stay on home ground. Looking back that was the right decision. At that time I had the idea of establishing a small mould making business with around seven or eight people.
ETMM: Your father was a farmer and played an important role at various times in your life – he supported you during your apprenticeship as a metalworker, and although he could have done with your help on the farm he helped you train at the Technical College.
Meusburger: Yes, that’s right. I was already fascinated by machinery as a child and my father supported me. Although he would have preferred me to go on to study, school wasn’t really one of my passions. As a young company owner I was able to invest in new machines with his financial assistance, as he acted as my guarantor. When he found out that a new conventional lathe cost 120,000 Austrian Schillings – now €8,700 – he said: “What? That’s the price of twelve cows – a whole barn full! Son, are you sure that this will all work out?” But I already knew that it would.
ETMM: And it did! Six weeks later you were able to hire the first six members of staff and your company became an insider’s tip in the industry. How did you come to specialise in standard components?
Meusburger: Yes, I’m still really proud of what we achieved back then. I’m also really happy that some of the original workers are still with us, and that I was recently able to congratulate them on their retirement. But to come back to your question: Until 1978 we produced injection moulds, punching tools, machine components and so on but still focused on made-to-order production. So then I thought that it would be much more productive if the tools were standardised. At the time the market was also looking for precisely machined standard moulds with fast lead times. I recognised this as a definite trend and for this reason we decided to specialise. We standardised our products, filled our warehouses and set up an agency network. This time of transition was definitely the most difficult phase in our company’s history, but this restructuring process turned out to be a landmark event.
ETMM: As the company in Dornbirn was bursting at the seams, you moved to a greenfield site in Wolfurt in 1980 with a workforce of 30. Why did you decide to relocate? Wouldn’t it have been easier to extend the existing premises in Dornbirn?
Meusburger: In the short term it would probably have been simpler but I recognised the potential that the mould making market offered and looked for a site that provided enough space for continuous expansion – and found it in Wolfurt. I am still very grateful to the former mayor Hubert Waibel in this respect – he supported us and offered us excellent framework conditions in Wolfurt.
ETMM: Seven years ago you passed on the company’s sceptre to your son Guntram. How was that for you?
Meusburger: I’m very happy that Guntram has taken over management of the company. Since then a lot has happened – 800 members of staff, the extension in Wolfurt, the distinction of being voted the most popular employer in Vorarlberg, several awards for outstanding training facilities, the planned second production site in Lingenau and more than 12,000 satisfied customers around the world. Today we are the market leader for standard moulds. The fact that we have achieved all this makes me a very proud businessman and father.
ETMM: The success of the company and the Meusburger family seems to be continuing. So where will the future take you?
Meusburger: The 2014 business year already looks very positive and we are once more expecting a record turnover. However, with all our international success we have never forgotten where we came from: We are a family-owned company that has evolved over the years and we keep our feet firmly on the ground. This is why it is important for Guntram and myself to invest in training young people and in expanding our plant. If we continue on this path, we will continue to enjoy a rewarding and successful future together with our workforce.