GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Calling the acquisition of Stiles Machinery by Germany-based HOMAG Group a win-win situation for not only U.S. woodworkers but those abroad, executives from the two companies met exclusively with Woodworking Network to discuss the February 3 announcement and its ramifications.
On hand for the interview were HOMAG Group Chief Strategy Officer Jürgen Köppel, new Stiles Machinery President and Homag Canada President Christian Vollmers, and Peter Kleinschmidt, former Stiles Machinery president and newly-named Stiles supervisory board member. The discussion, held at Stiles Machinery’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI, centered on the synergies and strengths of the companies.
While the transition is expected be transparent to customers - the company will continue to do business as Stiles Machinery Inc. - one benefit will be the improved access to sales, design and service information that comes with being a HOMAG subsidiary, Vollmers said. In addition, technology and trends gleaned from HOMAG’s worldwide customer base will be shared even more rapidly and with greater access to those in the United States, “fostering a higher degree of cooperation and joint efforts” among the groups, he said.
Köppel agreed. “We always had an open relationship with Stiles Machinery,” he said, and the marriage of the two companies will increase the communications between Stiles and HOMAG to an even greater extent. “[HOMAG] now has a more direct link to our customers in the United States” for support, especially for customers with global operations,” he added.
Stiles Machinery’s approach to education and customer service also will serve as a “benchmark” to other HOMAG subsidiaries, Köppel noted. Including Stiles Machinery, HOMAG Group’s subsidiaries total 22 sales companies worldwide and 15 production companies, nine of which are in Germany, with the remaining six located in China, India, Poland, Brazil, the United States and Spain.
What currently sets Stiles Machinery apart from other HOMAG sales subsidiaries is in the depth of woodworking machinery offered. In addition to the HOMAG brands – Bargstedt, Brandt, Butfering, Friz, Holzma, Homag, Ligmatech, Weeke and Weinmann - Stiles also carries equipment by other manufacturers such as: Altendorf, Baumer, Belfab, Belotti, Burkle, C.F. Nielsen, CMB, Heesemann, Heian, Ironwood, Kentwood, KMT, Makor, Kuper and Schmalz. Both Vollmers and Köppel said that will not change.
“This is another area where HOMAG can learn from Stiles. Stiles offers machines for the entire process chain, and [when needed] has filled in with third-party suppliers. I expect this model to be [incorporated] in Canada and at other HOMAG companies,” Vollmers added.
The timing of the acquisition coincides with Kleinschmidt’s retirement plans after 39 years of active leadership at Stiles Machinery. Kleinschmidt, who was named a Wood Industry Market Leader in December 2013, said his role on the supervisory board of Stiles Machinery will keep him involved in the industry.
“I have been cooperating closely with the HOMAG Group for more than 30 years,” Kleinschmidt said, adding that he looks forward to watching – and aiding - the U.S. woodworking industry as it continues to modernize and grow.
“It is a great pleasure and honor to have Peter on our board,” Köppel added.
Stiles Machinery has approximately 300 people on staff. “This is the number one asset of Stiles, the team,” Vollmers said. The company generated $158 million in annual sales in 2013 and holds approximately 35 percent of the market share of machines and production lines in the U.S. woodworking market.
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