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W&K Industrietechnik

Swiss location: Bern Sector: Construction services Country of origin: Germany

If you have ever driven a car, shopped for groceries, or simply relaxed at home, chances are you have already benefitted from W&K’s endeavors. The German group has been serving the industrial assembly market since 1985, mainly in the automotive, building materials, energy and environment, food, pharmaceutical, packaging, steel, metallurgical and foundry sectors. With 1,275 employees worldwide, it offers complete project solutions in the areas of mechanical and electrical installations, project and site management, machine and equipment rental, as well as services related to health and safety at work.

In this interview, Chairman and CEO Martin Kratzer retraces W&K’s investment journey in Switzerland and shares his vision for the future of the company.

citation icone It is absolutely crucial for our success to be present in Switzerland.

Could you please explain why you decided to set up shop in Switzerland?

Throughout the years, W&K has successfully implemented more than 14,000 projects in 135 countries, including Switzerland. Making our services available worldwide is a key step in building long-term relationships with our internationally oriented customers from the plant engineering sector. We believe it is important to be present in their main target markets, and to set up local offices staffed with readily available, qualified specialists. Over the past few years, we have been witnessing a significant increase in the number of industrial plants delivered in Switzerland by our European customers. Given the scope and size of the market, it was only logical for us to reaffirm our commitment to our local customer base by establishing our own Swiss subsidiary. Switzerland’s export-oriented mechanical engineering sector is also a valued long-term partner for W&K.

What were the key factors behind your choice of Bern?

The canton of Bern boasts a high density of manufacturing firms, especially in the medical technology, precision industry, and mechanical engineering sectors. Conveniently and centrally located, Bern is also suitable for deploying our services across Switzerland. Furthermore, the level of education in Bern is very high, with a great emphasis on multilingualism, which we value strongly.

What kind of support did you receive from Switzerland’s investment promotion team, both in Germany and in Switzerland? Which services did you find the most helpful on your journey?

After deciding that we intended to set up a company in Switzerland, we reached out to the Swiss Business Hub Germany, which is part of the Consulate General of Switzerland in Stuttgart. They quickly and smoothly put us in touch with the relevant contact persons in the cantons we had previously shortlisted. We received special support from Sara Schneider-Hamaï from the GGBa Germany & Benelux Office, based in Frankfurt. We were then introduced to the Bern Economic Development Agency, whose knowledge and network were instrumental in the preparatory start-up phase. They helped us arrange meetings with both cantonal authorities and expert service providers, who in turn were able to answer all the important questions we had in an efficient, unbureaucratic way. The combination of all these factors convinced us that our decision was the right one.

What is your vision for W&K in Switzerland?

Switzerland was already an important market for us beforehand. With our new local presence, we are now in a position to further expand our services in the country, as well as to focus on longer-term projects.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Our goal is to firmly establish our services in the core areas of industrial assembly, servicing, and skilled personnel leasing. We also plan to build up an additional base of highly qualified employees in Switzerland to be able to carry out particularly demanding commissioning, maintenance, and adaptation work on highly automated industrial plants together with engineers and software specialists. In the next five years, we can realistically expect to achieve a turnover of 10 million Swiss francs.

Exciting prospects! How do you think Switzerland will help you achieve your business goals?

Switzerland has established itself as a leading manufacturing hub for high-quality goods such as medtech and pharma products, precision instruments, and state-of-the-art machinery and production equipment. The Swiss market has two important characteristics that make it very attractive to W&K. Firstly, many Swiss manufacturers of production plants are our direct customers, and secondly, there is a high density of industrial sites that are served by plant manufacturers from Switzerland and the neighboring countries. It is absolutely crucial for our success to be present here.

What are your recruitment plans for Switzerland?

Qualified, reliable employees are our most valuable asset: building mutual trust is crucial for the long-term success of our team. We offer our employees permanent employment contracts and a close connection to the company. Depending on the type of agreement entered with the client, the assignment can take the form of a contractual relationship, or fall under the framework of staff leasing. Regardless, all our employees are guaranteed a secure and permanent employment relationship with a fair and dependable salary. In the next five years, we plan on scaling up to 80-100 employees.

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Martin Kratzer

Chairman and CEO W&K Industrietechnik