Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood IndustrySchattdecor celebrated the formal dedication of its St. Louis decor paper printing plant for flooring, furnishings and panel processing in fine Bavarian style, with a German wind quartet flown to the U.S. specially for the occasion. Speeches by dignitaries and company execs were punctuated with performances of Handel, Bizet and Strauss. A ribbon cutting was followed by a banquet with hundreds of guests and live entertainment.

Schattdecor’s dedication of the new factory was a heartening tale for the local community, and for U.S. woodworkers, or U.S. workers in any field, for that matter. The closely-held business is young, and innovative, and rests on a foundation of operating values that are often celebrated, but not always trusted among players used to the more cut-throat style of many U.S. business segments.

Schattdecor has taken a different tack. Founded in 1985 in Thanhaus, Germnay, the company grew steadily as it established its business. But in the early 1990s, recognizing it had a unique approach to both the creative design and efficient production of décor papers, it began to focus on becoming an international player.

After expansions in Europe, it moved into China, then opened a U.S. sales operation headed by Tom Drazen. As CEO Reiner Schulz, from the parent firm in Thanhaus, related the story during the plant opening ceremonies, a deal was hammered out at Interzum in 1995. “I’m not even sure if we signed a contract,” he said. That element of trust and partner relationship infuses the way the firm does business, from what I was able to detect during the plant dedication.

Drazen succeeded in growing the U.S. business to the point where Schattdecor needed stateside production – to capture the trends in style and design just as it does in other major world markets. It was agreed to build a plant to meet the needs of large U.S. wood manufacturing operations – two we ran into were Fanus and Swedwood, who have global relationships with Schattdecor and its main competitor, Sudekkor.

In opening the St. Louis plant, Schulz joked that it took Schattdecor 15 years to take the first step toward U.S. customers – by establishing the plant – so that it could become a supplier of choice for décor papers for panel processing. Drazen took that theme further in his remarks during the celebration.

“We’re going to be the kind of company you will want to deal with, and the kind of partner you’ll like to have.” Drazen said that if Schattdecor follows its principles, it’s customers will grow their relationship.

“I’m certain they will provide enough business to fill not only that machine, but three others that we have got the foundations poured for.”

Chief technology officer Roland Heeger relocated from Germany for the duration of establishing the plant. "Here in St. Louis we founded a dedicated team with the best professional attitude,” said Heeger. He cited Gray Design, on a speculative basis, traveling to Germany for two weeks to learn more of Schattdecor so it could properly bid on the plant design project.

“This attitude continued even when we shut the project down for 12 months,” said Heeger, as the downturn required. He also said, “Here in St. Louis we have a new mechanical system that is a model for our other plants around the world.”

 

Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood Industry
Tom Drazen, GM Schattdecor
 Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood Industry
Reiner Schulz, CEO Schattdecor
 Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood Industry
Audience at Schattdecor ribbon cutting.
 Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood Industry
Roland Heeger CTO Schattdecor
Schattdecor a Shot in the Arm for U.S. and Wood Industry
Minister Matthias Sonn, German Embassy

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