One-To-One Exclusive – Angus Kennedy meets Bühler at ProSweets
One-To-One Exclusive – Two great families serve as one
Daniel Troxler (left), Marketing Director Consumer Foods of Bühler and Thomas Breg (right), Head of Group Marketing at Haas, talk for the first time (as one partnership) exclusively with Angus Kennedy, Editor of Kennedy’s, at this year's ProSweets. This exclusive feature was originally published in the February 2018 issue of Kennedy's Confection.
Angus: Well Haas and Bühler as one and at the same table. Gentlemen, this is quite an occasion! An exciting one too, and I am honoured to be the first person to interview both of you together like this.
And now the joint forces of two legendary, and I must say much loved, family companies serving the bakery and confectionery industries – Haas of Austria and Bühler of Switzerland – this is an amazing opportunity for both sides. Daniel could take me through the process and the logic behind joining with Haas and how Bühler sees the future?
Daniel: Yes Angus, of course, and we are very pleased to be here too and thank you for the opportunity. The idea behind this is very simple: Bühler has been known not only as a machine supplier, but as a process supplier. When we find a missing link in our portfolio – for instance, when we said we can produce chocolate bars but we cannot mould chocolate – we searched for solutions. Either we develop ourselves, or get together with the right partner. Bühler with Haas is an excellent opportunity as you rightly have identified.
We aim to be a process supplier from A-Z. We have the grain, which is the basic material, we can process it to bread, bars and many different things. This is exactly what Bühler’s aim was when we joined forces with Haas: to close the missing link in our bakery solutions.
Angus: Yes, and I can see this strategy has been most successful. Tell me Daniel, before this, did you have any abilities (apart from milling, which is another side of Bühler) within the group on the bakery side?
Daniel: Within Bühler, we have the bakery team. The bakery is team is very good when it comes from raw material handling, raw material mixing to dough and batter preparation. But we had no ovens or wafer manufacturing. Even supporting our bakery customers developing new textures and new types of breads was possible, but we were not able to process this afterwards. With the joint forces of Bühler and Haas, we can support our customers from A-Z, from grain to finished products, in many different segments. And that is exactly what we wanted to achieve.
Angus: Bühler and Haas have their own independent stands here at the show, so are the companies remaining quite independent at the same time?
Daniel: Yes, that’s right. However after the announcement in September 2017 right up until January 9th this year, we had a very strict legal set-up that we had to fulfil, so there was only so much we could do in this time to ‘join forces’ today [date of interview 28th Jan 2018].
As you said Angus, Bühler and Haas are joining forces as individual companies with key individual strengths; but this is also based on a very strong alliance of being both family-owned companies. This is something that we and Haas are particularly pleased about. There are two companies with similar and strong family values and this is working very well already. In addition, both companies have a long, proven track-record of exceptional equipment. Adding value to the baking industry and baking ovens is Haas’ core competence. And I am sure Thomas will testify, Haas are world leaders in this area.
Thomas: Exactly, we are! Wafer machines are the origin of Haas since the 1950s, ever since Mr Franz Haas started to produce his first machines for wafers. The Haas strategy for decades was always to be the first and foremost a supplier in the bakery world and we are still very proud to hold such a position and yes, with strong family values; we are really excited to join Bühler with so many cultural similarities. And now to join forces with another world leader is very exciting for Haas, there are a lot of synergies with the two companies and cultures.
Angus: Yes and also in the long run Haas wasn’t going to develop chocolate moulding for example and Bühler, wafer ovens either with both companies being so strong in the market. I see the partnership was made in heaven!
Thomas: Yes Angus, that’s a good point and in addition our interest was never the next step to chocolate, or packaging; or even on the other side, raw material handling. This was not our focus. Our focus was always in baking goods.
Angus: Does that mean that you are beginning to explore areas in which both companies can be of benefit to the other?
Daniel: Absolutely, but step by step. We are now finding synergies – and there are a lot – on both sides, while customers remain at the forefront of our interest. This is the reason we keep being there for our customers, all the time. Haas is the first go-to for wafer and biscuit equipment, and the rest is from the Bühler side. Bühler customers stay Bühler customers, and Haas customers stay Haas customers.
I think what is very important there is we can add more solutions to the baking processes. For example, we can either offer a batch mixing process from Haas Mondomix or a continuous mixing process from Bühler.
A customer may say, “I want to have this process or that process”, and now Bühler Haas can offer both. There are some quick wins, obviously, where a customer says, “I want to start a bakery, I need to start from scratch” – and it’s now possible out of one hand. It’s basically a one-stop shop – that’s the idea behind it.
Angus: The coming together of Bühler and Haas was huge news here at Kennedy’s, and something we never imagined would happen. What sort of response have you both had from the industry? I can imagine your customers thought it was big news too, right?
Thomas: It was. I am sure Daniel will agree too that we were both approached by many customers even the day after we announced the merger, but of course we had to say. “Sorry, you will have to wait”. Legally, both sides needed clearance from the authorities to move on from there.
Daniel: Yes, we had a similar position as Thomas identified. However not a huge amount has actually changed. For a Haas request you go to Haas, and for Bühler, to Bühler. In the next few months we will be aligning our processes and market approaches. The only thing customers realise for the time-being is that it is going to be easier to do business with Bühler when we have a common project.
Angus: What potential do you see in the synergies with developing some new types of equipment, perhaps? There must be some interesting things on the horizon!
Daniel: Yes, there are technical synergies. But we are not working on technology yet; we are working on the sales network, the sales and service support. There will be ideas (some of which we have discussed), including some ‘low hanging fruit’ which we can collect! – and we are going to work on that first, but not now. It’s coming later. The first step is integration, sales, service, marketing and to grow together – and then we develop the technical aspects.
Thomas: Yes, both companies have a clear vision of a common digital way, and here we see a massive impact from Bühler with their experience in such details, and a subsequent huge benefit for Haas. We will be able to find a common solution very quickly now with the new service network. These are the two areas where both of us – and the customer – can win and see the added value.
Angus That’s interesting Thomas, so will a Haas customer have a slightly different customer experience? Is there a network around the world from which they can benefit?
Daniel: This is exactly what is happening right now Angus. There are already conversations about where and how we can integrate the local teams since they have their individual expertise. All to the best of our customers.
Thomas: We are investigating where Bühler can also benefit from the Haas organisation which as you know Angus, is very well established around the world. We are looking now at a new improved customer experience of a huge network of people available for customers right across the global bakery and confectionery industries.
Angus: So, finally, what do you see the upcoming trends to be, and how is joining forces going to help you tackle these? Because the chocolate market always moves so quickly.
Thomas: A huge trend we are facing in the wafer industry is everything around snacks. We see the classic flat wafer is stable, but manufacturers are looking for new products. Here, we are thinking about changing to chickpea or different kinds of ingredients. There will be trends that require us to join forces and respond rapidly; because the market sees the benefit. We have a lot of developments, product wise and raw material-wise, where we see added value for our product. This is simple, dedicated and market-driven. The wafer and snacks topic is a real trend for us.
Angus: Yes, humans are ‘herding’ now like sheep! I don’t know if this is good or bad; but you are spot on. It’s like we are grazing in the fields all the time and missing out our meal times with kids! I read this is a trend too.
That’s a wise move then gentlemen, and I am starting to understand the partnership and the truly exciting implications of your strategic positioning here. A wise one, an exciting one and a memorable occasion too. It’s been great to have Haas and Bühler as one, chatting together to join forces for the advance of the bakery and confectionery sectors. I predict some ground-breaking and interesting developments in the future with two such leaders.
Gentlemen, the pleasure has been mine to have this fine occasion with you. I wish you both a great success (which I now see it already is!) and can’t wait to keep up with this great story.
Daniel and Thomas: Thank you Angus, it has been a pleasure too, you are very welcome.
– Bühler and Haas will once again be joining forces to present a united front at this year’s iba exhibition in Munich (taking place Sep 15-20). For more about Bühler's capabilities, visit their website at www.buhlergroup.com