In 1991, ANCA made a critical decision to set up a new branch office in Germany, and this year celebrates the 20th anniversary of this major milestone in the company’s history. This is the story of ANCA GmbH.
ANCA’s move into Germany in 1991 was not so much a first step, but rather an expansion; as the company already had sales people on the ground for some time. However, with the release of the innovative TG7 machine, local tool manufacturers began to see the potential of the ANCA product, encouraging the company to commit themselves to a presence in Europe.
Directors Pat Boland and Pat McCluskey wanted to ensure their company was able to conduct business where the focus of the grinding machine industry lay, which at the time was in Europe, and particularly in Germany. For the Australian company to expand, they had to take on their competitors in their own backyard, and that was going to take hard work and determination. No-one has ever accused the Pats of lacking either of those.
Pat Boland at opening of ANCA GmbH
Twenty years later, ANCA GmbH is one of the company’s most important facilities, servicing a broad customer base right across the continent. Jan Langfelder, Managing Director ANCA GmbH, was there at the beginning in 1991.
“We actually incorporated the company in January 1991, but didn’t have the official opening until after EMO in June of that year. Our first location was part of a factory in Dusseldorf, where another Australian machine tool builder, LaserLab, used to reside. We had customers in Southern Germany and Switzerland. Mannheim seemed to be a geographically suitable location to settle at.”
Shortly after the company was incorporated, the economy faced crises and 1991-92 were challenging years for everyone. Regardless, the company was committed to the European market and was not swayed by the tough start. It turned out to be a great decision.
“Europe is the industry technology centre,” says Langfelder. “It was tough being from a company so far away, and from a country (Australia) without a strong association with engineering as such. The break-through came in 1993 when we released the MG7. With integrated automation and a revolutionary software concept, we started to get some significant orders from major companies.”
It was a lonely beginning for Langfelder, who was effectively the only person in the branch at the start, but he has plenty of company now as the Mannheim facility houses over 20 staff and contains a spares store and demonstration centre. However, ANCA GmbH has outgrown its traditional home, and another expansion is planned.
ANCA Mannheim - current building
Jan Langfelder: “We are on the move again. In the near future we are planning a purpose-built facility that will cover almost 2,000m2. It will house a machine configuration and rebuild centre, the spares store and a state-of-the-art demonstration centre to accommodate the wide portfolio of our CNC tool grinding machines.”
“It is what we need to do to keep up with growth and make sure we continue to offer good service and spares delivery to customers in Europe. When you are on the doorstep of your major competitors you have to make sure your customers are not disadvantaged by your headquarters being so far away (in Melbourne).”
Building company-owned premises is a sign of commitment and confidence in the market. For ANCA, it also represents encouraging growth and confirmation that the decision to set up ANCA GmbH 20 years ago was a good call.
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