Innovation born out of tradition

Even if you have not realized it up to this point, it seems very likely that you have already been acquainted with a Welser product or two. Long-established in Europe and revered for its ability to manufacture customized roll formed solutions that exceed client expectations, Welser Profile is targeting rapid growth in the US with the acquisition of Ohio-based Superior Roll Forming, completed in mid-2018

Life takes shape with Welser is a slogan that perfectly captures the nature of work delivered by the manufacturer of roll formed solutions. In fact, the Austrian company has developed a whopping 22,500 innovative and customized cross sections to date that can be found in literally every aspect of everyday life. While the list of applications requiring customized sections is virtually endless, the business has directed its efforts in growing six particular market sectors – automotive, construction, transport, agricultural, environmental technology, and industrial engineering.

Extraordinary as it may sound, Welser Profile has been a family-run organization dealing with steel processing for 11 generations. The company traces its roots back to the mid-17th century when, in 1664, it started as a metal pan forging business at the Haus in der Au in the town of Ybbsitz in Austria. Remarkably, Welser Profile has maintained this connection with its birthplace throughout the centuries and what started as a forge has now grown into a technology centre of excellence for the design and manufacture of metallic roll formed sections. In addition, the company operates three other production facilities – in Gresten (Austria), Bönen (Germany), and, since 2018, in Valley City, OH, USA. Covering over 5,000,000 square feet, Welser Profile facilities house more than 90 custom roll forming lines, with 2500 employees engaged in the smooth day-to-day operation of the business.

For almost 60 years, Welser Profile has been manufacturing roll formed solutions and building strong competencies in the roll forming department. This remains one of the core services the company offers to its ever-growing customer base. “Even beyond roll forming production,” comments Geoff Repp, Vice President of Sales of Welser’s US branch, “we are particularly skilled in processes such as roll form tooling design, punching, secondary bending, joining of material, and kitting solutions. Due to the in-depth expertise we have developed, we are now the partner of choice for our customers, who are almost exclusively market leaders in their respective industry, as they are looking for unique solutions that will give them a competitive edge in the marketplace.”

One of the outstanding opportunities Welser Profile presents to its clients, is a tool that enables them to design their own sections. Available on the website, The Welser Profile Configurator allows for a profile to be drawn to scale in real-time in the user’s browser, with no need of prior CAD knowledge or additional software required from the customers to perform the task. The availability of such an option hints at Welser Profile’s intention to allow clients to develop products that best meet their needs while being manufacturable at the same time. The Profile configurator encourages clients to contribute with their own ideas and create a design that is an exact match to their business needs.

Product aspirations
A 350-year history has certainly helped Welser Profile create a lasting legacy in Europe’s steel processing market and the company is now rightfully considered as a technological leader for its capabilities and excellence in solving customer issues in an efficient way. Geoff adds: “Time and time again, we hear praise from our clients who make it clear that they are especially impressed with the quality of our products and with the engineering acumen we repeatedly demonstrate. Having earned such an impeccable reputation in Europe it was decided that we should make this same technology readily available globally and begin establishing a strong brand presence in North America.”

In order to take the first step towards a US presence, Welser Profile first opened a sales office in Chicago in 2017 before going on to acquire Superior Roll Forming, Valley City, Ohio, USA in the summer of last year to advance its production aspirations further. “Superior was a business primarily focused on the automotive industry and since that was a targeted growth market for Welser Profile, we thought the company would be a good fit for us and would enhance our market portfolio. Without a doubt, it brought some additional technical knowledge in the sphere of high-strength materials and we are pleased to have seen improvements since the acquisition in June of 2018 was made. We are now looking to launch new programs and place further investments in equipment and technology to pave the way for continued growth in 2019 and beyond. In addition, the culture of Superior as a family-run business fits together perfectly with the values of Welser Profile,” Geoff discusses.

Big plans
In an early highlight, shortly after it became the latest member of the Welser Profile family, Superior Roll Forming obtained upgrade certification to the automotive industry’s new quality standard – IATF 16949:2016, which specifies the quality system requirements for products and services in the automotive industry. The achievement sends an unambiguous signal that Welser Profile has big plans for its newest acquisition that involve its transformation into a bona fide hub of technology excellence in its chosen speciality.

By purchasing the North American entity, Welser Profile is also hoping to gain a logistical advantage in the US market, courtesy of Superior Roll Forming’s convenient location in the immediate vicinity of customers, raw materials, and employees. The new plant has 340 staff and spans 588,000 square feet and is projected to continue serving clients in the whole of North America, as well as globally including India and even China.

Best practices
Welser has always taken pride in its strong growth vision and precise outline of how it is going to achieve its goals. For the development of the North American market, the company has the model of two world leading roll forming operations. By utilizing the best of Bönen, Germany and Gresten, Austria as models, Welser Profile will be taking its best practices to North America. “It is a major long-term goal of ours that we are aiming at making a name for ourselves in North America. As a whole, we have a solid order book for 2019 and during this year, we will just continue to be a company that solves customer problems by making the most of cutting-edge technology,” Geoff envisages the path Welser Profile is to follow in the coming months.

“It is also incredibly important to continue treating our clients as partners and keep the big picture in mind. We want to maintain sustainable market leadership through key points of differentiation and to do that, we need to stick to our culture and remain pacesetters in the utilization of emerging technology,” he concludes.

Welser Profile
Products: Custom Roll Formed Solutions