CST stands for Competence in Surface and Technology. Behind CST is Falko Saalfeld, who founded this GmbH. He opened his modern plant on the green meadow before the town of Ilsenburg exactly three years ago. The company applies exceptionally high quality surface finishing to roof rails for the car industry. It receives orders from leading roof rail manufacturers throughout Europe. Its customers include Sapa, the SAM-Binder Group and WKW (Walter-Klein-Werk). What CST can offer that is special: "We have developed a sophisticated technology that is integrated within a polishing robot. There aren't very many of these systems in Europe. And each of these systems is different and designed to fit the local conditions," explains the Director.
And the CST production hall would also be sure to excite any professional photographer. From their polishing to the emergence from the silver anodizing bath, the streamlined aluminium rails aren't only the stars of the show - they are also very photogenic. A selection of interesting photographs is on display in the office of CST Director, Falko Saalfeld.
He has recently been reflecting on springtime three years ago, when he originally opened his production hall for the surface treatment of aluminium components, with just one member of staff and one machine.
Back in 2008, he had laid the foundations for his start-up firm all by himself, when he had reached his mid thirties. Today, a few years older, a wealth of experience later, and 52 employees richer, he can say that "It was a hard but important time in my life." With the support of this wife and their child, and with the vision of a successful modern company in mind, he successfully negotiated the 2009 financial crisis.
"Looking back, pushing ahead with the development of the company during the crisis was a good decision. But it was also risky, as we didn't know what would actually happen," explains Saalfeld with relief.
Today CST is one of the few anodizing works in Europe which is able to fulfil the high aspirations of auto manufacturers from the middle to the premium segment. The 'electrolytic' gleam of the rails is flawless. It is the result of the short distances which form part of the unique CST technology, and the fully automatic polishing systems. For good measure the quality of chemical surface treatment is continuously checked in the in-house laboratory.
A scratch and polishing streak free gleam is the trademark of CST. It is also important that the railing constructions look good on the car's roofing for as long as possible. "Our customers demand surface attributes which protect against the influence of weathering as well as extreme alkaline effects," explains Saalfeld. The fact that more and more auto manufacturers are placing importance on PH-value resistance is one of the recent developments that a company like CST must respond to quickly.
Abroad, non-contact washing systems are entering operation, which use extremely alkaline washing agents.
The CST logo shines silver grey and red in the landscape of the Harz. This is where Falko Saalfeld has his home. He went to school in nearby Drübeck, studied mechanical engineering in Magdeburg and then returned to Wernigerode. He gained the requisite know-how for his career during the twelve years that he spent working at MWG Oberflächenveredelung GmbH. "At the MWG Group I benefited from a situation which you currently mainly find in small and medium sized companies. Due to demographic development, for good professionals, the career path to the managerial level is very short." Saalfeld was just 30 years old when he became a Director in the MWG Group, a planning stage in life, and Falko Saalfeld decided he wanted to forge his own path rather than go track conventional routes. Going different paths and then subsequently developing new ties has been a fruitful process, and enabled CST, based in Ilsenburg, and MWG, based in Wernigerode, to co-exist in a positive commercial proximity.
There are good reasons why CST surface treatment decided to make this region its home, explains Saalfeld, who was himself born in the Harz region. And they aren't only related to his personal roots. "For companies in this sector, the region surrounding Wernigerode and Ilsenburg is well connected with the infrastructure," highlights Saalfeld. The local authorities have also established themselves as reliable hubs in the well linked network between the companies, and over the years have become highly experienced in managing the requirements surrounding the sector. "Expertise creates trust and is the guarantor for a successful location policy," explains Saalfeld, something he knows from experience. And he also knows how to highlight the superb quality of life on offer in his home region, having convinced his own qualified employees to move to the Harz from far and wide.
Author: Kathrain Graubaum
Falko Saalfeld, Managing Director
Bakenröder Straße 7
ph: +49 39452 486110