Kiefel GmbH is on a roll. Sales have doubled the past three years following a management reorganization and a marketing shift to shed the firm's image as a supplier of blown film lines for high density polyethylene and nothing else.
Kiefel, with production in Worms, Germany, launched the Kirion line, capable of handling polyethylenes of any density as well as other polymers, at K 2001. That year, it sold seven Kirion lines, the following year the figure was up to 22, then 33, and this year it will be at least 42.
Sales director Kurt Freye said there was an urgent need to change strategy, with the market for HDPE lines flat, and growth in multilayer lines. The firm also had to strengthen its international dimension. Freye's sales team now includes nationals from Chile, China, Germany, Russia and the United States.
At Kiefel Inc. in Wrentham, Mass, Briton Bob Hawkins has been president for a year. At K 2004, he announced the sale of the firm's first nine-layer line, to an undisclosed U.S. customer making barrier film.
Germany still is Kiefel's leading market, with a share of 17 percent, the United States second at 14 percent and Italy third at 13 percent. Freye said the company has had its work cut out repositioning itself in the United States, partly because of the time and place of the Kirion launch. American attendance was low at K 2001.
Being known as an HDPE machinery company in the United States is more than problematic. ``Fact is, it's cheaper to import HDPE film from China than it is to make it in the U.S.,'' Freye said.
Kiefel has not abandoned HDPE customers, though; almost half of new Kiefel lines go to traditional customers.