Sachs Trnava boss Peter Doll confident of success.
Courtesy of Sachs Trnava
Last year, Trnava-based Sachs factory produced 600,000 passenger car clutches, 50,000 truck clutches, and 30,000 torque converters, mostly for Volkswagen, Škoda, and Volvo. "On the clutch side, I will double production by the year 2000," Doll said. "With torque converters, I have to stabilize. My production is going too fast."
Recording an annual sales growth of between 50-70 percent for three years, his employees seem to need a break. "By 1999, I promised my people here that we'll take a break," Doll said. "Growth of 20-25 percent is very healthy, but with more than 25 percent, watch out."
Doll said the key to his company's growing sales is the growth in labor productivity. "The workers are very hungry to learn," he said. "When I started here, I told everyone I play for first place, not second. You go with me or without. And I can see they are with me."
Doll has two ways of reaching his objective of increased productivity - motivation and intra-factory communication. During his three years of working here, he has found that cash-strapped Slovak workers need two things: financial motivation and humane treatment.
"As I see it the key is money," Doll said, "that's one motivator. The second is getting information down to the people, [such as] why we are doing one thing instead of another, why we have to work longer hours one day. People are really happy if they know why they are doing something, even if it's someone on a lathe or drilling machine. If he knows why something must be done in the next two hours instead of the next 2 months, then you get a 10-percent increase in speed."
Another difference is time management, the science of spending time effectively. "I've noticed a difference - not just in Central Europe, but all of Europe - [in how problems are handled]," Doll said. "If you have a problem here, most European guys spend time trying to find out whose mistake it was. In the U.S., we spent 99 percent of our time trying to fix the problem, without even knowing who [erred]. If I can get my people to focus less on looking for the [culprit] and more on fixing the problem, then I'm far ahead of everybody."
About 95 percent of the company's production is exported to Western Europe, while the remaining 5 percent is sold in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. However, Sachs' export performance is less impressive in light of the fact that the company buys fewer than 10 percent of its parts in Central European countries.
When asked why he didn't buy more within the region, Doll answered, "Quality. Delivery. I'm a tier one supplier to the auto industry and it's very tough for me to find a tier two supplier. My buying power here is 50 percent of my sales. I really wish some tier two suppliers could hear this message and do something in Central Europe."
In August 1996, Sachs Trnava became 100-percent owned by Mannesmann Sachs. Since then, the mother company has invested about 10 million DM annually and plans to continue this rate for the next two or three years. It may even decide to move more of its production to Slovakia.
"We are getting more and more visitors from different divisions of our parent company," Doll said. "Our numbers look good. The growth looks good. So, we've got some interest."
Jeffrey A. Jones is Editor-in-Chief of Central Europe Automotive Report.
12. Mar 1998 at 0:00 | Jeffrey Jones