Netstal’s Merki exits as KM restructures

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Ending a 24-year career at Netstal-Maschinen AG, top executive Bernhard Merki is leaving the Swiss injection press maker as part of a restructuring of Netstal and its parent, KraussMaffei Group.

Merki is well-known as the president of Euromap, the European association of plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers. KraussMaffei’s new CEO, Jan Siebert, announced Merki’s departure and the reshuffling of two other executives in a news release issued April 17. Merki was in Shanghai for the Chinaplas 2012 show when the announcement came out. He still has two years left on his term as Euromap president.

Merki was Netstal’s president and CEO.

KraussMaffei Group promoted Hans Ulrich Golz to president of groupwide injection molding machinery. Golz has been CEO of the group’s extrusion business, KraussMaffei Berstorff.

Golz said his role in bringing the Berstorff compounding extruder business under KM’s extrusion equipment operations was a factor in his promotion to the injection molding machinery job, which is attempting to integrate KraussMaffei and Netstal injection press operations.

“Yes, this was one of the reasons that I was asked to take over this job,” Golz said at a media briefing April 19 at KraussMaffei’s Chinaplas booth. “This was a very successful integration. So we integrated the extrusion business from both locations. We set up an excellent strategy … and the extrusion business is doing very well. We had annual growth of 30 percent last year, and we will have the same growth this year” in the extrusion sector.

Siebert, in the news release, said KM will “maintain the independent market presence of the Netstal and KraussMaffei brands with a clearly defined product portfolio and separately operating sales organizations for both brands.”

The release also said Merki “decided to step down from his position and to leave the company.” However, by several accounts, Merki was stunned by the decision and had no idea it was coming.

Officials of Munich-based KM signaled some changes last fall at the Fakuma trade show in Germany, when they announced that KM group had merged the marketing functions of its Netstal and KraussMaffei PET preform molding machine businesses, under the control of Netstal in Näfels, Switzerland. At that same time, Reto Morger departed as Netstal’s marketing manager.

Netstal makes injection molding machines for thin-wall packaging and medical applications.

“Mr. Merki has worked for Netstal in various functions since 1988. We would like to thank him for all his work and wish him all the best for the future,” Siebert said in the prepared statement.

Golz joined KM in October 2010, becoming a member of the managing board of KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, responsible for the extrusion business area. A mechanical engineer, Golz had worked for German automaker Daimler-Benz AG, then worked since 1995 for several German machine toolmakers. From 2008 until joining KraussMaffei, Golz was president of Mag Powertrain GmbH in Eislingen, Germany.

At the Chinaplas press briefing, Golz was asked about the departure of Netstal veteran Merki.

“In general, companies have to make a decision about direction and then it is the decision of the management if they can bring some value-add with this decision. … It was a difficult decision [for] Mr. Merki, I assume. It was really not simple, but at least we have to accept this decision.”

Merki was publicly representing Euromap at Chinaplas when the news broke that he is leaving Netstal.

Golz acknowledged that “the timing is always difficult for this type of decision.”

“But it’s very important that we push this integration, so that both these structures, these organizations together, can perform in a better manner, all over the world,” he said. “Our business is global, our business is not local, and you need a size. If you have a bigger size in your structure, you can perform better all over the word. It’s very simple.”

Also in the April 17 announcement, KraussMaffei said:

* Karlheinz Bourdon moves from managing director of KraussMaffei Technologies to vice president of technologies responsible for research and development, product management and process engineering development.

* Frank Peters, who has been managing director for KM’s Reaction Process Machinery Division, now heads injection press sales as vice president of KM sales.

* Nicolas Beryl will manage the reaction machinery segment.

KM said the choice is being made for Golz’ successor as managing director of KrausssMaffei Berstorff and president of the extrusion technology segment.