A new sheen for our green.


A new sheen for our green.
ISSUE 3/2010
Dirk Braemer explains the new services aimed
at supporting GRASS customers. Page III
GRASS people
New employees impress with their
competence and passion. Pages lV – Vll
The GRASS exhibition team has completed
a fascinating exhibition at IWF. Page VI
The kitchen design magazine “der küchenplaner” on the latest developments at GRASS:
A new sheen for our green.
Young architects in a competition to redesign the GRASS
showroom in Höchst. In the
spring, GRASS invited architects
to take part in a competition. The
company was looking for a new
design of the GRASS showroom
in Höchst to reflect the GRASS
motto “Movement is our passion”.
An excellent partner was found
for the project in the Vorarlberg
Architecture Institute (vai): “We are
keen to promote young architects,
and therefore welcomed the initiative by GRASS,” explained Marina
Hämmerle, Director of vai. We will
report on the result in one of our
next issues.
Radiant green lights up the night.
The newly designed glass facade in
Höchst is a clear signal of the new
mood at GRASS. “Glass is a fantastic material which conveys high
quality and a modern feel,” explains
Harald Klüh, Global Brand Manager
at GRASS. “Glass reflects its surroundings, fits harmoniously into any
environment and conveys openness
and transparency – which is what
the new GRASS brand is all about.”
For this reason, green transparent
glass elements play a special role
in GRASS’s new pictorial language.
And in future, they will also feature
in building designs. “The gleaming glass squares are intended to
express our new understanding,”
summarises Brand Manager Harald
Klüh, “because rather then being a
fortress, we want our building to be
open to the world around it – allowing sight and insight.”
There is a new mood at GRASS. Two years on from the merger of GRASS with Mepla-Alfit
and the integration of Hetal, a lot has changed. Hardly a stone has been left unturned in the
new company set-up. There have also been changes in the minds of key players within the
organisation. More on pages II/III.
The new hinge system with integrated damper
conquers the American market
TEC Soft-close: unique
comfort made in the US.
TEC Soft-close was developed especially for furniture manufacturers in
the American market. The hinge was
launched at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) in Atlanta, and was
met with an enthusiastic response
from visitors. The new system for
face-frame cabinetry includes a sophisticated damping system which is
integrated in the hinge cup. It offers
end customers maximum operating
comfort and functional technology
in modern kitchen, bathroom, living
room and bedroom furniture. In addition, the installation of TEC Soft-close
is particularly easy and efficient due to
a number of unique features. The new
unique hinge system extends the product range for the American market and
further increases the attractiveness
of GRASS movement systems for
furniture makers. There are now even
more products available to the furniture industry and cabinetmakers using
different construction methods. For
more details, go to Page VII.
Dirk Braemer, head of the new GRASS Distributor Management,
speaking about the new service and its additional customer benefits.
Performance for the trade.
Distributor management – a new component of GRASS’s new orientation towards
customer service. Its head, Dirk Braemer,
and his team have accomplished a lot in
a short period of time, and want to do
much more: “It is our task to provide an
optimum service in all areas to our distributors and, in particular, to the cabinetmakers who install our movement
systems. Both OEMs and cabinetmakers
have certain needs in common, but are
also different in many ways. What we
aim for is to do justice to both groups of
customers and bring them on board.”
Supporting the cabinetmaker’s
strengths. “An individually crafted
piece of furniture requires something
different from us than industrially produced furniture,” says Dirk Braemer, and
he elaborates: “The cabinetmaker needs
a wider and more comprehensive range
of products than an OEM so that he can
play to his strengths and respond to customers’ wishes. We can help by providing
a lot of inspiration for the innovative use
of movement systems and marketing
aids aimed at the end consumer.”
Set packs, single sets and
cardboard drilling templates.
A new sheen for our green. Sparkling like a polished diamond.
The trade press reports: Chief editor of the kitchen design magazine, “der küchenplaner”, Dirk Biermann, on his visit to Höchst and his impressions of GRASS.
“The future is a blank canvas for the designer.”
There are expressions that appear to be
so overused that their use ought to incur
a five-euro fine! This also includes: “You
cannot kindle a fire in any other heart
until it is burning in your own.” This wisdom has been credited to the bishop and
philosopher St Augustine (354 – 430).
There is hardly a sales workshop that
can get by without this mantra. But what
might look out of date at first sight, is
actually more topical than ever. A role
model might be another way of describing it.
Frank Nessler, who has been the GRASS
Group’s Sales & Marketing Director
since March 2009, and previously held
the same position at Mepla-Alfit, seems
to fit the bill of role model. When you
ask the 42-year-old about the current
situation and the future marketing strategy of GRASS, his eyes light up and he
seems to sparkle with enthusiasm for
action. An energy that is infectious without appearing to be imposing. Instead of
making abstract statements, he likes to
speak in metaphors.
“GRASS is a diamond that had to be
polished” is one of his images. With this
image he condenses the ups and downs
of GRASS’s 60-year history into a bitesized portion. A diamond is valuable, it
is not created from one day to the next
and has a natural and very individual
beauty. The fact is: at the beginning of
the decade, the company got into difficulties and was acquired by the Würth
group in 2004. In 2007, the company
was merged with local firm Mepla-Alfit
from Götzis, also part of Würth, to form
the new GRASS Group. Meanwhile, the
Hetal plant at Alpirsbach also became
part of the group of companies that now
jointly markets its products under the
GRASS brand name. The product range
was selected by choosing “the best of
everything”: movement systems such
as Nova Pro come from GRASS, DWD
XP from Mepla-Alfit, and the expertise
for designing wall and corner cabinets
originates from Hetal.
A fresh wind. Since the birth of the
new GRASS Group, a fresh wind has been
blowing through the different parts of
the company which have gradually grown
together to form one unit, or – as the restructuring of Hetal shows – are in the
process of doing so. Redundant structures were dispensed with and new ones
put in place. Both physically and mentally.
To date, the parent company Würth has
invested some EUR 100 million in plant,
products, training and branding. Even the
GRASS green seems to be greener. More
modern. One could also say: the people
at the top have done an excellent polishing job – with visible success. Nonetheless, some of the after-care measures are
yet to be completed.
The millions of euros invested since 2004 will ensure excellent prospects for the future.
A vibrant company culture.
“It certainly wasn’t an easy process
to take people from their respective
positions and explain the purpose of
the merger to them,” Frank Nessler
admits honestly. He refers to the growing together of the company as something that was “exhausting, challenging
and interesting”. “The development
and nurture of a company culture is
a never-ending process,” says Frank
Nessler. The fact that his eyes light
up as he says that indicates that he
enjoys processes of this kind. And enthusiastically leads by example. Processes of evolution and change always
start at the top – that is something the
“greens” at Höchst have clearly taken
to heart.
Strength in unity. For GRASS too,
2009 proved to be a difficult year. The
company saw sales revenues plummet
from EUR 297 million in 2008 to EUR
254 million – a drop of 13.7 % This was
largely down to the well-known difficult
market conditions in the USA, the UK,
Spain and The Netherlands. Things now
look decidedly better, and for 2010
Frank Nessler expects to see doubledigit growth. “If the autumn produces
really good figures, we might even get
back to the 2008 results,” ventures
Frank Nessler.
However, as already stated at the time
of the merger, the fundamental sales
targets are significantly higher – aiming
at EUR 700  million by 2020. “We are
far from exploiting our full potential in
the world markets,” says the Director,
and he speaks of “huge opportunities”.
The company currently operates in 60
countries, either through its own sales
organisations or through distributors.
Long-term support. “Products,
dynamism, service” are the three key
words, rooted in quality, which are intended to bring GRASS closer to its
sales targets. Put the other way around:
“We will continue our approach of not
selling on price.” This company policy,
which is aimed at durability, is also fully
in keeping with the parent company’s
philosophy. “Prof. Dr. Würth is a visionary who takes a long-term view of his
investments and provides us with the
funds to realise our objectives,” says
Frank Nessler, full of praise. Some EUR
100 million has been invested in the
last three years, and even in the crisis
year 2009, investments totalled EUR
32 million worldwide, with another EUR
42 million available for 2010.
Modern products. What makes the
Sales & Marketing Director look confidently to the future is the modernised
product portfolio with solutions to suit
movement requirements. All this comes
under the philosophy of premium quality – for products, logistics and service.
Sometimes this is expressed in the
wide range of options such as with the
Tiomos hinge system, which is available
with and without integrated damper.
At other times there is technical sophistication such as the “world’s first completely synchronised concealed slide
system Dynapro”. And high quality also
applies to the selection of materials and
production methods.
More electrical applications.
Frank Nessler has high hopes for the
electrification of kitchen, bathroom
and living room furniture. At Eurocucina
2006, GRASS was the first supplier who
dared to stick out their neck and offer
the first fully electronic Sensotronic
movement system for fronts without
handles. Although it must be said that
electrically controlled drawers failed to
achieve the anticipated triumphant success, he nonetheless sees the “electrification of furniture” as an unstoppable
development. In Nessler’s view, it will
take another three to five years until the
idea takes hold.
Set packs make it easier for the cabinetmaker to buy the Sensomatic electromechanical opening system and the
Kinvaro flap system. All the necessary
components, including a cardboard
drilling template, are included in the
set to facilitate quick and easy installation. “For the cabinetmaker, a drilling
template is extremely important. That’s
why every GRASS product will have a
template specifically aimed at the cabinetmaker,” says Dirk Braemer.
Product information with much emotion – GRASS teaser brochures for distributors.
GRASS Distributor Management is currently working on a
new comprehensive catalogue
which will show the extensive range
of products for distributors/cabinetmakers and which will provide cabinetmakers
with all the technical and administrative
information needed for the efficient ordering and installation of GRASS products.
A project that is particularly close to Dirk
Braemer’s heart, and which will also be
completed in the near future, is the new
Ganileos design and ordering software.
With this software, GRASS wants to optimise all ordering and design processes,
providing significant help to both cabinetmakers and distributors. In summary, Dirk
Braemer sees the challenge as “providing cabinetmakers with quality products
in terms of design and function which are
easy and efficient to install”.
Dirk Braemer
Head of GRASS Distributor Management
“Our excellent movement
systems come with
customer-oriented service
for distributors and
Frank Nessler
Director of Sales and Marketing
“We make movement
an experience. This
emotionality creates a
positive perception of
the GRASS brand among
end customers and
helps furniture makers
differentiate their
All information at a glance in the GRASS catalogue for distributors/cabinetmakers. Available
from June 2011.
All the ingredients for perfect movement in the GRASS Single-Set box.
Available for Dynapro, Sensomatic and Sensotronic.
GRASS Single-Sets include cardboard drilling
templates for easy installation.
GRASS people
Page IV/V
Christoph Walter, the GRASS Group’s Finance & Administration Director,
talks about employees, passion and continuous knowledge building.
GRASS people
Competence and enthusiasm are
the foundation of a strong brand.
Lars Heine
Responsible for HR development
Joined the GRASS team in August 2010
Herbert Maisel
Head of Product Management
Joined the GRASS team in April 2010
Thomas Müller, the GRASS Group’s Technology and Development Director,
talks about the key topic of increased productivity.
“Our customers deserve
perfection. No-one can
achieve that on their own,
but together we can.
For this reason, we want
to develop all employees
to a point where they can
make full use of their
personal potential and do
so with enthusiasm.”
Lars Heine has been responsible
for HR management and development, employer branding, job
enlargement, recruitment and
apprentices since August 2010.
He graduated in business administration and also wants to use
his many years of experience as
a management consultant with
emphasis on HR management in
his function at GRASS. Lars Heine
states the qualities a GRASS
manager should have as problemsolving skills, strategic and entrepreneurial thinking, discipline, respect and accountability. His first
aim is to provide “the necessary
training modules for methodological, communication, team and
management competence.”
“There are no com­
promises in product
management. If
movement is to be an
experience, then the
quality, functionality and
aesthetics of our systems
must meet the highest
Productivity is a challenge for
the entire company.
The first impression of Christoph Walter
is one of an analytical, calm and strategic thinker; and there is no doubt
that’s what he is. But he is more than
that, and his whole passionate energy
and vivaciousness become apparent
when he talks about the qualifications
of employees and managers: “We need
courageous managers with ideas and
we need employees with the drive to
make things happen, who are prepared
to join us in building a green future.”
Christoph Walter sees human capital,
the expertise of employees, as a critical factor for sustained success. It follows that he places great emphasis on
HR development: “Competitive factors
such as speed, flexibility, customer
orientation, quality and productivity
can only be achieved if all employees
are competent, motivated and able
to learn and adapt.” Christoph Walter
sees focused employee development
as much more than classical training
activities. For him, HR development
comprises all measures that help employees to acquire the personal and
professional skills required to perform
their tasks and meet company objectives: “With our new HR Development
Manager Lars Heine, we will therefore
be paying special attention to topics
such as job enlargement, successor
planning, training models and much
more. It is our aim to recognise individual development potential at an early
stage and to systematically encourage
the motivation to achieve.”
From the executive workshop
to the Management Academy.
Building on the first executive workshop
in Brand in 2009, the second workshop
was held in the same place in September 2010. 130 management staff
from all European GRASS locations in
Höchst, Götzis, Salzburg, Reinheim,
Alpirsbach, Jönköping and Krumlov
accepted the invitation. The subject
of this extremely intensive three-day
workshop was the optimisation of interface management and internal communication.
Efficient communication is very important to Christoph Walter for the continuing development of the company:
“In order to achieve our ambitious targets, we need clear, direct and focused
communication, a clear perception
of interfaces and good mutual understanding between all employees – far
beyond the limits of departments and
locations.” That was exactly what was
practised during the workshop in a
range of indoor and outdoor activities.
At the end of the three days, participants exchanged impressions on their
learning experience as well as looking
to the future and how they would implement what they had learnt in their own
working areas.
Christoph Walter
Director of Finance and Administration
“We need courageous and
imaginative managers and
employees with a strong
will in order to implement
our strategies.”
Thomas Müller takes the view that sustained success with innovative products
that meet high quality requirements
demands highly professional methods
for securing the competitiveness of the
company. The Technology & Development Director emphasises that “in addition to the achievable selling price in
the market, the company’s productivity
has the largest impact on the success
of our products and services. Our main
emphasis is therefore on our employees
and their qualifications as well as on the
plant and equipment incorporated in the
value chain”.
Total Productive Management
(TPM) has led to decisive improvements. Five years ago, GRASS
decided to introduce a comprehensive
productivity management system which
ensures a continuous improvement
process in the company. Total Productive Management (TPM) impacts on
production as well as all adjoining areas
in logical sequential steps in order to
systematically detect and successively
reduce any kind of waste.
“Increased plant efficiency and employee productivity and, in particular,
the improvement of our internal quality performance are central to this effort,” says Thomas Müller. The method
is supported by a system of production performance indicators and target
agreements, accompanied by monitoring audits to ensure progress within the
organisation. At the facilities at Höchst
and Götzis in particular it has been possible to achieve encouraging progress
in the last two years. Thomas Müller
pays special attention to the standardisation of work processes, and faster
and more flexible set-up times. Overall,
he sees this as optimisation of the organisation as a whole in combination
with a highly qualified workforce.
Efficiency and effectiveness.
For Thomas Müller, an increase in productivity is “a challenge affecting the entire company, one which goes far beyond
improving individual machine cycles”.
Future increases in productivity will be
based on inter-departmental cooperation and systematic project implementation. “It is essential for us to proceed
systematically and to resolve conflicts of
objectives in the organisation effectively
and efficiently so that our company succeeds in the industrial production and
sustainable optimisation of products that
are wanted in the market,” says Thomas
Thomas Müller
Director of Technology and Development,
“Future increases in
productivity will be based
on inter-departmental
cooperation and systematic
project implementation.”
The new Head of Product Management, Herbert Maisel sees the
“green spirit” as the reason for
his move to GRASS: “GRASS is
a growing company with a clear
vision. Together with my team I
want to build on the successes
of the recent past – design orientation, functionality and the drive
for productivity – and set trends
in every respect.” After gaining a
degree in business administration,
Herbert Maisel went on to specialise at ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen before acquiring
many years of experience in the
kitchen industry. “There has been
a strong trend towards differentiation in the industry in recent years.
Of course, it must be our objective
to support premium OEMs and
cabinetmakers with our products
and services.”
GRASS Tiomos moves the doors of the EGO cabinet series by Blaha.
Unique: a piece of furniture with two “red dot” awards.
The fact that a piece of furniture has obtained the same
design award twice is probably rather rare in the history
of the prestigious “red dot”
award. So it is no surprise
that the Austrian office furniture manufacturer Blaha and
GRASS were doubly pleased
at the “red dot” award ceremony in Essen – both individually and jointly – as the acclaimed Tiomos hinge system
also moves the EGO cabinet
series by Blaha.
Tiomos hinge system by GRASS.
EGO cabinet series by Blaha with the Tiomos hinge system inside.
“The red dot is proof for us that the
company’s internal 5th Milestone Design
programme has worked,” explains Blaha
Head of Marketing Mag. Marcus Haas.
This is not the first Blaha project where
external designers were used. Then in
2007, the company established its own
design team. EGO was developed by
the Linz designer Thomas Feichtner.
“In Thomas Feichtner we have found
a kindred spirit,” explains DI Michael
Thurow, who is responsible for design
and product management at Blaha.
“The communication between designer
and company is one of the most exciting aspects of the process that develops
an idea through to its implementation.”
Cool on the outside, sophisticated inside.
“The cool looks of the EGO are matched
by its sophisticated inner workings,”
explains DI Michael Thurow. “Often it
is things that you don’t see at first that
impart the sheen of quality: the way
the forms fit together, the connections
between the parts, the sophisticated
technology and the precision of the
GRASS Tiomos and GRASS
Dynapro are amongst the best
of over 4,200 products. In Blaha
office furniture, GRASS Tiomos defines
the aesthetics of the door movement
and GRASS Nova Pro that of the drawers. For other GRASS customers, it is
the new concealed slide system GRASS
Dynapro which was also distinguished
with a red dot award. Head of Marketing,
Andreas Marosch, echoes the conclusion of Michael Thurow of Blaha: “The
many years of cooperation with our
designer Stefan Ambrozus have forged
a close relationship. The intense dialogue between our technicians and the
designer, who has won several awards,
has opened up a new dimension for us
in form and function.”
A small dot with great importance. The red dot is one of
the most coveted international design awards.
A man for all seasons – Jürgen Ahlfeld accepts a new challenge.
GRASS people
GRASS USA with a new Vice President.
The restructuring of GRASS USA has
been completed and it is possible that
break even will be achieved as early as
2010. Jürgen Ahlfeld feels that the company is well on course; he also emphasises the importance and the challenge
of the US market for GRASS: “In cooperation with us, the team in North Carolina has achieved an enormous amount
in the past months. We are building on
that. Forward-looking products such as
the TEC Soft-close and Tiomos hinge
systems, the Dynapro concealed slide
and the Kinvaro flap systems are as popular with our customers as the uncontested design classics – the double-wall
Nova Pro and DWD XP drawer systems.
In addition, are focusing very hard on
service and productivity.”
A globetrotter in the service
of technology and progress.
Jürgen Ahlfeld brings a lot of experience
and a progressive approach to North
Carolina. The personal career of this
father of three fits perfectly with the
American dream. Following his training
as a machine fitter he went to evening
classes after work and obtained his
qualification to attend the University of
Applied Sciences at Koblenz, where he
studied mechanical engineering. In the
1980s he first worked as development
engineer and later as workshop manager and head of research & development
for an international industrial company
in Frankfurt.
Even in those days, Jürgen Ahlfeld loved
a new challenge. In 1990 he packed
his bags and, together with his family,
moved to Singapore in order to run the
production facility for another German
industrial company. Three years later his
company asked him to become works
manager at a facility in Düsseldorf. Then
finally, at the turn of the millennium,
changes came about at GRASS and
Ahlfeld and his family moved from the
north of Germany to the banks of Lake
Constance. Now, Jürgen Ahlfeld is attracted to the winds of change at GRASS
America; he comments on his personal
change in moving across the big pond:
“GRASS is a specialist in movement systems. I myself love movement and innovation, new tasks energise me, whereas
routine paralyses me.” Jürgen Ahlfeld
still considers America as a country
of unlimited opportunities, especially
for GRASS and for himself: “I like the
culture of getting on with it in a daring
and pioneering spirit, and that is exactly
what we are now doing.”
Movement as an experience. At the GRASS
exhibition stands, tangible space becomes
emotional space. The rooms have been
designed down to the last detail and create
an atmosphere that fascinates customers
and employees alike and never fails to bring
new surprises.
Peter Bennath, who heads the exhibition construction team, on the exciting time spent in the USA.
The International Woodworking Fair is the
most important industry event on the
American continent. So it is no surprise
that tensions rose for Peter Bennath in the
days leading up to the event, especially
since it was the first time that GRASS presented itself in the USA with its new global
corporate design. Peter Bennath, who
was responsible for building the stand,
and Jan Fitzpatrick, who was responsible
for the organisation, are clearly moved as
they recount: “The 350 m2 exhibition
stand in its new look and full of innovations such as TEC Soft-close, Tiomos,
Dynapro and Kinvaro was a huge surprise
for our customers, the trade press and
even our own staff in the USA.” This highlight was the result of many months of
planning and hard work. The exhibition
stand itself, with the GRASS LED cube at
its centre, as well as all brochures, films,
animations – i.e. the entire marketing material, had to be redesigned for this event,
which only takes place every two years.
On the opening day, Peter Bennath and
the whole team were full of expectation to
see how the new movement systems and
the new brand design would be received
in the USA. And the eyes of the man in
charge of exhibition stand construction
still shine today: “It was amazing!”
Constantly energised. Peter Bennath doesn’t easily lose his nerve. A
quality he really needs, because as
head of exhibition stand construction
at GRASS, he is constantly “energised”.
With his team of nine permanent staff
and further temporary staff for setting
up and dismantling the stand, Peter
Bennath organises an average of 25 exhibition stands per year. That requires
experience, expertise and full commitment. He sees a special challenge
in the fact that there is always a firm
deadline and in the special requirements and demands made by GRASS
and the visitors to the exhibition: “For
an exhibition you always have to be
ready on the dot, you can’t afford one
hour’s delay. Of course you can plan
for that, but with exhibition work there
are always unforeseen circumstances.
In addition, the stands we design and
build our not exactly simple, as we try
to make the world of our products into
a unique and memorable experience for
our customers.”
Innovative presentation methods and space for personal
communication together create the typical GRASS feeling.
Peter Bennath and his team create visionary spaces “so that our visitors can
experience the GRASS spirit with all
their senses”. To achieve that, GRASS’s
exhibition experts use all that technol-
ogy can do, especially for the large
exhibitions. Together with Head of Marketing, Andreas Marosch, and Global
Brand Director, Harald Klüh, the team
around Peter Bennath implements its
ideas with LED walls – even entire LED
rooms – animation, film and sound.
However, Peter Bennath does not want
to overdo it, but achieve a harmonious
mix: “In Atlanta, new products such as
TEC Soft-close need space to unfold
their beauty and functionality. Customers and customer advisers want a quiet
but nevertheless inspiring atmosphere
for their meetings, and the GRASS
brand wants to convey its unique messages – it has, so to speak, its own
spirit which penetrates and pervades
Four days of emotion over
600 m2 – thousands of hours
of preparation. When large exhibition stands have to be built, such
as at IWF in Atlanta or at Interzum in
Cologne, several thousand working
hours are necessary as well as the
optimum cooperation of all involved.
It takes several months from the first
architectural sketches to the design of
the last details, because GRASS sees
its exhibition presence not as a static
presentation, but as a moving stage
production. Christian Kadur, Rupert
Cesa, Helmut Tomaselli and Harald
Sperger of the GRASS exhibition team
in Höchst emphasise: “In that situation we benefit from our experience,
from meticulous preparation and also
from the flexibility of the staff and
their ability to improvise.” Together
with their colleagues in the exhibition
team at Reinheim, Richard Forgber,
Jörg Deelmann and Reinhold Nelischer,
they mention another aspect of their
complex task: “We don’t just design
and build the exhibition stands, we
also construct the furniture on show.”
Nevertheless, the entire team also focuses the same attention on smaller
exhibitions. Julian Hollersbacher and
Herbert Loacker of the GRASS team
in Höchst: “It is often harder to implement our ideas in smaller spaces, but
we tackle each new exhibition with
fresh enthusiasm as we want to fascinate visitors in every country.”
Exhibition service requires
maximum preparation. One of
the tasks of the GRASS exhibition team
is also the exhibition service for GRASS
customers, who showcase their innovative furniture at exhibitions such as the
furniture fair in Cologne, Küchenmeile
A30 or Eurocucina. That is always
“a new challenge, but nothing is more
exciting and beautiful than to be able to
present our movement systems in our
customers’ latest models”.
Peter Bennath
Head of GRASS Exhibition Stand Construction
Christine Mödritscher
Head of the GRASS Academy, joined
the GRASS team in September 2010
“I’m inspired by America’s
spirit: we want to – and will
be – pioneers again.”
“Our movement systems
are pure passion. That’s
why our employees need
not only the competence
to understand and
convey technical facts,
but also the ability
to communicate emotionally, authentically
and inspiringly.”
Christine Mödritscher has been responsible for managing the GRASS
Academy since September 2010.
In addition to her qualification in
business administration, she has
many years’ experience in leading
positions in the field of further education. She is currently working
on a new concept for the GRASS
Academy and she truly loves it:
“Our distributors’ sales reps, the
workforce of cabinetmakers and
OEMs, and of course, GRASS employees, will all benefit from the
new organisation.”
“It’s amazing!” Visitor response is reward for hard work.
“Green days” at IWF in Atlanta.
GRASS impressed with its
product innovations and the
new market launch.
Jürgen Ahlfeld
Vice President Operations
The new face-frame hinge generation with integrated damper.
The launch of TEC Soft-close at IWF.
“We always aim for a
balance between emotion
and information.”
Beauty and movement as expressions of pure joie de vivre.
Closing furniture doors with
TEC Soft-close is something
special. The unique hinge system cushions the movement,
and softly and quietly pulls the
doors shut.
Many thousands of visitors to the
GRASS exhibition stand in Atlanta were
able to experience the feeling. The
system, which was developed for the
American market and the face-frame
tradition, was popular right from the
start. TEC Soft-close offers maximum
operating comfort and functional technology for modern furniture – in kitchens,
bathrooms, living rooms or bedrooms.
The great adaptability of the
TEC Soft-close system has been
achieved through its intelligent and
space-saving functionality, which inte-
grates the damping system within the
hinge cup.
Jürgen Ahlfeld, Vice President Operations
of GRASS USA, is very pleased with customer reactions: “With TEC Soft-close
we can provide a wonderful boost to
the construction method with solid face
frames, which is so popular amongst
many cabinetmakers. Some of our US
customers produce frameless furniture,
many of them work with face frames and
some even with both. But they all have
one thing in common – they want to
capture the imagination of their customers and offer a range of solutions. They
need to weigh up the costs and benefits
of the production methods as well as
the demand of the end consumer for
one or the other construction method.”
Jürgen Ahlfeld emphasises the flexibility
and numerous options furniture makers
have with GRASS: “With our new TEC
Soft-close hinge system and our entire
comprehensive range of movement systems, we support every cabinetmaker in
his effort to find his own individual solutions and to match them with customer
requirements, and thus to differentiate
himself positively from his competitors.”
Beauty and comfort for the end
consumer, efficient installation
for the furniture maker. Jürgen
Ahlfeld has been in charge of the development of TEC Soft-close right from the
beginning. He and his team were keen
to combine the unique comfort and benefit for end consumers with a number
of installation benefits for the furniture
makers. Most important were the small
dimensions of the hinge because the
smaller a movement system is, the better it is suited to face-frame construction. “It’s a small package with a big
Soft-close and huge benefits,” says the
new Vice President, clearly proud of the
Ideal for face-frame construction: the damper is inside the hinge cup.
GRASS says goodbye to one of its veterans.
Denis Marsh, Managing Director of the sales offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, is retiring.
The life and career of Denis Marsh
would be worth a feature film. Although
the script writer would be hard pressed
to make the film into a reflective comedy
or pensive drama about the meaning of
life, about love, trust and faith. Whichever way, spectators would leave the
cinema deeply touched. Just as Denis
Marsh’s retirement touches his customers, business partners and all GRASS
employees who have got to know and
appreciate him over many years. His
successor Wayne Nabal, who we will
be introducing in the next issue, will
certainly not find it easy to step into his
shoes. However, Denis Marsh is full of
praise for him: “Wayne was our ideal
candidate, he will run the company in
his own way and develop it successfully.”
With flashing lights and sirens
to the interview. A breakdown, and
everything might have been different. In
1986, Denis Marsh was on the highway
in Cape Town, South Africa, on his way to
an interview with Horst Lautenschlager.
The engine stalled, the car stopped, time
ran out, there was no telephone booth
nearby and mobile phones were not
yet available at the time. Denis Marsh’s
luck came in the form of a traffic policeman who did not hesitate to drive
him in the police car, and at speed, to
the interview, thus helping him to his
job and a career which he began as
general manager.
Many companies, one manager. In 1993, Lautenschlager became Mepla, in 1996, Würth took
over the company and a short time
later appointed Denis Marsh as managing director for the headquarters
in South Africa. In 2002, Mepla and
Alfit merged. And finally, in 2008
GRASS South Africa was born. Throughout these years, Denis Marsh had an
impact on the development of the company and he fondly remembers some of
the magic moments: “At the beginning
we travelled all over South Africa to
present our hinges and slide systems,
and I myself operated the machines in
order to demonstrate the efficient installation. Later, customers came to us.”
Denis Marsh organised many parties for
product launches which hundreds of his
customers remember well. Denis also
fondly remembers his oldest customer
and the difficult start of the cooperation:
“Twenty years ago he thought that our
New faces and many winners at GRASS.
Competence for
a secure future.
In September 2010, 17 young people, 14 boys and 3 girls, started their
apprenticeship at GRASS. In Austria
alone, GRASS trains 62 apprentices,
ten of them girls. Reinhard Lecher,
Head of Apprentice Training: “These
young skilled workers receive a level
of training which is internationally in
demand. This is borne out by the careers of former apprentices who today
have jobs such as production manager,
works manager or who are recognised
production plant experts.”
GRASS apprentices top the
list at the 2010 apprentice
competitions. GRASS’s vision “We
want to be the best” has already become a reality for the apprentices.
Denis Marsh
Managing Director GRASS South Africa
is recognised for his life’s work
products were too expensive and that
he could buy a Mercedes as a present
for his wife after just one year if he used
other hinges. And that’s what he did, but
six months later he came back to me
as the quality and service problems encountered with the others had annoyed
him and won him over to our products.”
A fulfilled and meaningful life –
full of plans. Denis Marsh finds great
joy in dedicating himself to his family,
his grandchildren and the charity campaigns of the protestant “Assembly of
God” church. Since his wife died of can-
cer and his son was also diagnosed with
the disease, Denis appreciates time in a
deeper sense and wants, as he says, “to
make use of every minute”. He has many
plans to keep himself busy, apart from
his commitments to his family and the
church. He wants to travel within South
Africa as well as to Europe, Israel and
the Arctic, and also to make one dream
come true: in his garage he has an MG
dating from 1932. He wants to renovate
this car and perhaps will soon be driving
on the same highway as at the time he
went to the interview at Lautenschlager.
But this time without a breakdown!
“Time is short,
use every minute!”
This is supported by the rankings
achieved in the annual examinations
and apprentice competitions organised by the electrical and metalworking
industries of Vorarlberg. Here, GRASS
apprentices compete with those from
other leading international companies.
In 2010, Bekir Yildiz achieved first
place in the field of metalworking, and
the bronze medal was won by Mario
Blazevic, who was closely followed
by Martin Barta. Some of the best
places were also won by the two machine tool technicians, Michelle Feigl
and Melanie Metzler, who passed their
stage exams with distinction. Thomas
Leonhartsberger has passed his examination as machine tool technician
with distinction.
The advantage card for those under 26.
Melanie Metzler and Bekir Yildiz are just two of those who have achieved outstanding results in the
apprentice competitions. Our congratulations go to all winners.
Registration for the new
GRASS Greencard is possible by going onto the GRASS
apprentices’ homepage at
www.ichundgrass.at or onto
Facebook. Numerous advantages are available to Greencard holders.
According to Frank Nessler, Sales &
Marketing Director of the GRASS Group,
the GRASS Greencard is intended to
benefit the many thousands of young
people who live near the company facilities in Höchst and Götzis. As one
of the biggest local employers, GRASS
has a special interest in the pupils,
trainees and students of the region. In
future, card holders will get discounts
for certain events and in certain shops,
and can take part in draws for tickets
to Vorarlberg first-division matches of
Cashpoint SCR Altach and SC Austria
Editorial information: owner, editor and publisher: GRASS GmbH | A-6973 Höchst/Austria | Grass Platz 1 | www.grass.eu | Design: GRASS Marketing, Editors: die3 – PR Agency, www.die3.eu. Subject to printing errors.
Article No.: 71969-00
Using the GRASS Greencard
for “moving” events.

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