Gerd Liebig will move up from chief sales manager to become CEO of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH beginning Jan. 1.
Liebig, 55, will succeed Tetsuya Okamura as CEO of the Japanese/German manufacturer of injection molding machines. Okamura, 60, will assume a new position at the parent company, Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd.
The company announced Liebig's promotion on Oct. 5 — just two weeks before K 2016.
Liebig joined Sumitomo Demag April 1, 2015, right after NPE 2015, to handle worldwide sales, after sales and marketing activities for the company, based in Schwaig, Germany. He came to Sumitomo Demag from Austria-based Engel Holding GmbH, where he was the head marketing manager.
For Liebig, the move also was a return to the Demag business, where he had worked for 15 years at Demag Plastics Group in executive marketing positions. Sumitomo acquired Demag in 2007.
Okamura began to lead the machinery company — relocating from Japan to Germany — in early 2008. The news release announcing Liebig's promotion does not specify what position Okamura will take at Sumitomo Heavy Industries.
In 2012, in addition to his role at the machinery company, Okamura also became senior vice president and a member of the executive board of the Japanese parent company.
Kazuo Hiraoka, general manager of Sumitomo Heavy Industries' Plastics Machinery Division, said Okamura has helped to improve the machinery manufacturer.
“Today Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is a healthy, economically stable, innovative and prospering company. Under Dr. Tetsuya Okamura's management, considerable sums have been invested into the company and the production efficiency has been clearly increased,” Hiraoka said. “The product portfolio has been consequently brought in line with the demands of the target markets thus strengthening our position.”
Okamura said Liebig is a good choice to be CEO. “Since he joined the company Gerd Liebig consequently set the focus on being innovative. He inspired employees and customers by being such a competent, convincing and exhilarant person,” he said.
Okamura said the company's market share has “increased considerably” in all strategic markets.
Sumitomo Demag generated 2015 sales of 234 million euros ($265 million), hitting a record.
Andreas Schramm remains as chief technical officer.
Sumitomo Demag employs more than 3,000 and runs four factories, in Japan, Germany and China. Officials said the company sells more than 5,000 machine a year.
“The decision of our Japanese owners and of the Sumitomo board in Tokyo means a huge appreciation and a lot of trust in my work and in myself,” Liebig said.
He said Okamura was the key person who bridged the Japanese and German ways of doing business in industrial machinery.
“Without his trust in us, without his understanding of our culture and the way we do business and without his consequent loyalty in us and our management team, we would not be in our present comfortable position. I am very honored that I may succeed Dr. Okamura and I hope that he will stay to be my advisor in the time to come,” Liebig said.