A top result in preventive maintenance and a gradual recovery of new machine business: How STUDER has come through the Corona crisis so far. An assessment by Managing Director Sandro Bottazzo.
Drops in sales, short-time working: The Corona pandemic has hit the world economy with a force never experienced before. Numerous industries are reporting dramatic developments. STUDER, one of the world market leaders in cylindrical grinding from Steffisburg in Switzerland, has so far come through the crisis relatively robustly, emphasizes Sandro Bottazzo, Managing Director and, as CSO, responsible for Sales, Customer Care und Marketing.
The pandemic also hit STUDER just when recovery was taking hold again. “In January and February 2020 we had a very steady order intake, which even exceeded expectations”, says the CSO. But then Corona arrived. STUDER’s priorities were the health of the staff and the company’s survival. The company set up a Corona Task Force as soon as lockdown occurred. Efforts were made throughout the company to reduce the physical presence of over 700 staff at the various locations, in order to reduce the risk of infection. And today all staff and visitors at the STUDER locations wear face masks. “In some instances our rules even go beyond the official requirements”, explains the Managing Director.
New machine business is picking up
The second main priority: the company’s survival. Up to now, STUDER has been able to continue production throughout the pandemic at the two Swiss locations, Thun and Biel. The supply of bought-in parts, generally from other European countries, has also worked perfectly. When new machine business will get back to pre-Corona levels still remains to be seen, says the Managing Director. In some markets like the USA, China, some countries in Eastern and Northern Europe as well as Italy, business is gradually picking up, but unfortunately the German market remains rather subdued.
In Customer Service demand initially dropped sharply with lockdown, but then recovered very quickly again. STUDER was able to maintain Customer Care throughout the whole period. “Our broad international presence has really proved its worth here”, says Bottazzo. STUDER has a presence in all relevant international markets, with its own staff or with representatives. As a result, most customer requirements could be fulfilled locally in the markets. Together with the Group branches in the USA, China and India, STUDER has well over 200 employees in Service worldwide.
In Customer Care, the company is actually operating at pre-crisis level again. “And we are also hiring again in this department”, says Bottazzo. Digital tools have proved to be very successful in Service during the crisis. “And in preventive maintenance we recorded one of the highest demands in the company’s history in recent months.”
Back to trade fairs
STUDER attended BI-MU in Milan, Italy from 14 to 17 October, and would also have attended Grindtec in Augsburg, Germany, from 10 to 13 November. The STUDER S31, designed by the Swiss artist Ata Bozaci as part of the image campaign “The Art of Grinding.”, was exhibited in Milan. “In 2020 our policy for the big trade fairs was always: If the trade fairs are allowed to take place, then we, the UNITED GRINDING Group, will be there too”, explains Sandro Bottazzo. The Managing Director looks forward to direct interaction with customers. “You can do a lot digitally, but the interpersonal quality, the feeling for what motivates people in the markets, falls by the wayside.”
A continuing positive effect of the crisis is a rapid increase in digitalization. From the internal Market Summit with sales representatives and webinars on grinding issues through to grinding training for customers, STUDER has digitalized its communication very successfully. “We have learned to use digital communication tools efficiently.” Advancing digitalization and making processes more efficient is also one of Bottazzo’s goals for 2021. “We want to make our corporate processes even more efficient and digital, where feasible. This is so that we can offer our customers one answer and the right solution, even more quickly and efficiently. “Because as with all company activities, STUDER’s aim remains the same: “We want to make our customers even more successful.”