March 31 was the last day of work for Wolfgang von Schroter, a prominent German plastics machinery executive who is retiring from Demag Ergotech GmbH, an injection press manufacturer.
Von Schroter, 61, said he is available to do some consulting work for the injection press maker or its parent, Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG.
``But in principle, I am retiring,'' said von Schroter, who steps down as executive managing director of Demag Ergotech.
The company, based in Schwaig, Germany, generated 1998 sales of about $280 million. Its main plant in Schwaig and a small-press factory in Wiehe, Germany, turned out 2,130 injection presses last year.
Replacing von Schroter at the top spot is 49-year-old Helmar Franz, who ran the Wiehe factory. He will relocate to Schwaig.
Von Schroter joined Demag Ergotech, then called Mannesmann Demag Kunststofftechnik, in 1989. He globalized the company, which at the time was focused on Europe.
``I came here to Demag with a clear objective, to develop this company into the international markets,'' he said in a telephone interview the day before his retirement.
One big move came in 1992, when the company's parent, Mannesmann AG, gained U.S. press manufacturing by purchasing Van Dorn Plastic Machinery Co. in Strongsville, Ohio. Van Dorn was the second-largest U.S.-owned plastics machinery company. Van Dorn was renamed Van Dorn Demag.
Demag Ergotech and Van Dorn Demag will continue selling each other's machines in their respective home markets, von Schroter said.
Although both companies are separate units under the umbrella of Mannesmann Plastics Machinery, he said that the two still work together on marketing, machine design and other issues. For example, Demag Ergotech is studying whether to manufacture the Van Dorn-designed Caliber two-platen press in Germany.
``We have decided already to build the prototype,'' von Schroter said.
Last year, the German company also moved into China by setting up a factory in Ningbo with local partner Ningbo Haitian Corp. Ltd.
Since 1994 von Schroter has served as president of Euromap, a trade association representing European plastics and rubber machinery. He will continue in that position until December, when his term ends. Von Schroter also is leaving the board that runs VDMA, which represents German machinery manufacturers.
Before joining Demag, von Schroter worked at German crane builder Gottwald, which was purchased by Mannesmann AG.
Franz joined the Schwaig company in 1991, and for the next four years ran its office in Moscow. He moved to the Wiehe plant in 1995.
Demag Ergotech also announced that Gerhard Becker has been promoted to financial director for Mannesmann Plastics Machinery.
Becker had been commercial director of Demag Ergotech, a post now held by Hermann Balzer, who was promoted.
Von Schroter said he was happy with Mannesmann Plastics Machinery — the world's largest plastics equipment group, which owns several companies.
``That doesn't mean that we don't have our day-to-day issues, and some are controversial, but we always find solutions. I think MPM at the moment is a strong group,'' he said.