VEM Motors from Wernigerode is always one step ahead
The boxes are piling up in the dispatch area at VEM motors GmbH in Wernigerode. They will travel from the northwest of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, located in the center of Germany, to Finland, Sweden, Russia, Poland, the USA and many other countries in the next few days. The motors that are packaged in plain cardboard boxes all have one thing in common: small silver stickers are attached to them that spread the name VEM motors all over the world.
There is a unique item, a customised product in every box. During the GDR era 100 or in fact 150 motors of the same design were generally produced at the previous company, VEB Elektromotorenwerk Wernigerode, now there are often unique items. This is complex but a niche in which the company can continue to exist and celebrate success. "What is constructed and built matches the customer's requirements exactly", explains Sales Manager Ulrich T. Beholz. "Customised quality products are the asset that we can exploit, we are competitive on this market. Others can offer mass goods at cheaper prices but that is not our job."
The company that currently employs more than 500 staff at its location in Wernigerode, is one of the most important manufacturers of low voltage motors in Germany. When the Sales Manager starts up the computer to show us references, there is genuine amazement. On drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, at London-Heathrow airport, in British and Italian high-speed trains and on port cranes in the USA – "Made in Saxony-Anhalt" motors are running everywhere. At home, hardly anyone, except the staff of course, knows that orders are received from all corners of the world in the hall on the edge of Wernigerode town. "Two new Aida cruise liners are just being built at the Mitsubishi shipyard in the Japanese city of Nagasaki. VEM motors is supplying all the low voltage range motors for this, i.e. for the fans and pumps, for example", adds Ulrich T. Beholz.
The plant in Wernigerode wins the contract for these kinds of orders because VEM has made a name for itself in the industry. A name for motors that run extremely quietly, withstand extreme heat, are explosion-proof, hardly vibrate at all or were produced especially for hot and damp conditions. "The products that leave our plant are distinguished by extraordinary operational reliability, a long life, a high degree of efficiency and being environmentally friendly", the Sales Manager summarises the strengths. The main argument for sales abroad is still the good reputation of "Germany as a brand". German products are still held in very high regard, this also and especially applies to mechanical and plant engineering.
While some companies advertise using their German origin but in reality no longer actually produce here, VEM motors is not guilty of fraudulent labelling, emphasises Ulrich T. Beholz: "We produce a great deal ourselves so that we rely as little as possible on suppliers and can respond flexibly to enquiries. Our employees punch, mould and machine the materials here on site and inspect the motors before they go out to customers. If you have the production process completely in-house, you can monitor the quality better."
Some customers from abroad come to Wernigerode especially to get a picture of production in Germany and to watch how the motor they have commissioned is made. Putting out feelers for new markets, working on new developments and not standing still that is what makes VEM motors and the other holdings in the VEM Group stand out. "We want to always be one step or at least half a step ahead of our competitors", says Beholz. "That's why we have our own development department that works on new designs and tests new materials."
So that the innovative drives for industry, shipbuilding, the energy sector, traffic engineering and mining then find as many buyers as possible, the corporate group maintains a sales network with its own branches and partners in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America. "We are continually building on this network so that customers can find a contact partner near them", says Ulrich T. Beholz. Saying that, it is easier to find good employees for sales than specialists and engineers for electrical engineering. "We are therefore using our own strength, offer apprenticeships and are working closely together with the automation and information technology faculty at the Harz University of Applied Sciences."
It is likely that employees will then be loyal to the company for a longer time too. Many employees at the VEM Group praise the working climate: at the start of the year VEM was voted in first place for the mechanical and plant engineering sector in the "FOCUS" ranking for the best employers of 2015. The magazine had surveyed employees and workers from all levels of the hierarchy and all age groups via the "Xing" internet platform. "We can be really proud of this kind of result", says Ulrich T. Beholz delighted. The first place in the ranking was also promptly visible on the desks too where countless speculative applications ended up.