Electronics specialist Preh focuses on international market following spin-off from parent

Bad Neustadt. Preh Group, a control systems and sensors specialist, is making its business more international following its separation from the Duesseldorf-based industrial company Rheinmetall Group.

Preh has already managed to get foreign contracts for some design engineering projects.

As a result, the old and new boss of the Preh Group, Michael Roesnick, is traveling a lot to North America and to the Far East.

Roesnick and his co-executives Ernst-Rudolf Bauer and Ingo Schaefer are under time pressure: the new investor, the Deutsche Beteiligungs AG, hopes to be making a sizeable profit within five to eight years.

The three Preh bosses also have shares in the newly founded Preh GmbH, as has the former owner, 82-year-old Rosemarie Preh.

Roesnick did not want to disclose any details of how high each share is in the capital stock of 12 million euros.

He only said that Deutsche Beteiligungs GmbH "holds more than three quarters of the shares" and Mrs. Preh "more than 10 percent." The rest belongs to the three managers.

Roesnick also stressed the company is standing on its own two feet.

"We are totally independent from Rheinmetall," he said.

Both Roesnick and Egon Friedel, the head of the Preh works council, are positive about the company's future without an industrial partner.

They said that the company had always been profitable during the Rheinmetall era. They also believe that the increased use of electronic technologies in cars will continue to help Preh grow.

Roesnick has already managed to get contracts for design engineering projects with large customers in the USA, which will go into series production between the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005.

"We are planning a separate production location for the NAFTA regions," said Roesnick. This plant could be built in Mexico.

Roesnick also plans to take a close look at the Chinese market.

Preh does not intend to open a production location in Eastern Europe. The company leaders believe that one plant abroad, in Portugal, is enough for the business to be well represented in Europe.

The electronic products manufactured there can be transported easily and in good time over long distances.

Around 1,350 employees of the total 1,800 workforce are based at the headquarters in Bad Neustadt. Of these 140 work in design engineering.

Most of Preh's business is in the automotive sector.

Roesnick also wants to keep the profitable engineering sector, where 150 plant constructors design assembly and manufacturing lines for industrial customers.

The supplying of the radio and television industries however will soon be terminated. In 2000 this sector had sales of 40 million euros.

Roesnick said that small acquisitions are a possibility. His target by 2008 is "strong double digit growth," in order to reach sales of about 350 million euros. He said that Preh would then definitely have its own production locations in both North America and China.

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