02 April 2009: Conflict solved

Klöcker Bros. strongly invest

It took a long time. A very long time: Yet now the conflict is solved and the way for investments is paved. Klöcker with its roots in the field of textiles enlarges the production site in Borken-Weseke and sets an example against the cloudy economic situation.

After more than five years, Klöcker Bros. now may kick off their enlargement project. Ten new jobs will be created. Klöcker will now invest more than two million euros into a construction project which was at risk due to a smoldering planning conflict. An investment abroad seemed to be the only alternative. But the responsible authorities ultimately approved the slightly modified development scheme.

Technological leaders on their way up

Klöcker Bros. are real leaders in the global market: In the field of accessories for textile machinery you can’t go past the long-established company with its main seat in Borken. Klöcker supplies all the weaving machine manufactures world-wide with selvedge binding components. “The so-called ‘Klöcker selvedge’ meanwhile has become as synonymous and shaping in the weaving sector as ‘Nutella’ for chocolate creme or ‘Tempo’ for tissues”, Dr. Christoph Schwemmlein, who has been leading the company’s sales and development department since 1990, says.

It is particularly encouraging that it is a company doing business in the textile industry which now gives the economic crisis the cold shoulder. It was the textile branch which, in particular, had (and still has) to suffer from low-price competitors from the East and Far-East. Specialization and longstanding know-how – around 110 patents are a remarkable proof – characterized the way of Klöcker Bros.: With a high pace in innovation, Klöcker Bros. were able to hold and increase even further their technical lead and developed and filled the own sector with a remarkable consciousness for service.

The pleasant business development makes the enlargement possible, no: it makes it necessary. Dr. Schwemmlein: “We urgently need to increase our production capacities due to various promiscuous orders as well as the concrete chances for further business”. Two new halls – one will accommodate latest injection molding technique, the other one will serve as a warehouse – will allow Klöcker to meet the increased requirements on a surface of more than 2.500 square meters. The halls will be integrated into the already existing block of buildings.

The expansion is of crucial importance since the company manufactures both tools and the weaving machine accessories itself in order to live up to the extraordinarily high quality level. Development, service and other core areas are controlled and run via Germany exclusively. Due to repeated setbacks of the enlargement project, however, more production meanwhile had to be outsourced and several injection molding machines were shipped to Bandung in Indonesia.

Planning conflict

The “history of setbacks” began in 2004 when the company presented the development plan to the responsible committees. The crucial points of the proposal are the purchase of a neighboring area being separated by a little road, the relocation of the road around this area and the construction of two new halls on the “old” surface. A modification of the plans is requested. Since we are talking of a development center which produces neither noise nor emissions, conflicts with the neighborhood seem excluded, the matter beyond dispute.

Far from it. The project which the city of Borken constructively supported from the very beginning meets with opposition. Ever new concerns, petitions and requests come up to eventually throw the company off the enlargement course. With quite an impact: After the trouble-free purchase of the new area, the relocation of the road (and thus the company’s possibility to practically use the area) surprisingly becomes an almost insurmountable barrier. The city of Borken has to hand in the initial concept of usage at the approving authorities in Münster in a considerably modified form.

The company has to wait five long years later until the approval procedure. Managing director Dr. Schwemmlein thinks back of this long period of time filled with bitterness: ”We could have created new jobs and produced at our site in Germany a long time ago.”

Chamber of commerce supports

The fact that the company didn’t give up and stuck to the plans has to do with the chamber of commerce (= IHK) as well. The IHK Nord Westfalen helped with expertise and as intermediator, took a firm stand in public and encouraged the management not to give up despite all odds.

“From an objective point of view, we understood that Klöcker planned to invest both into the future of the company and the location Weseke. This investment, however, encountered resistance of several citizens for whatever reasons” Hans-Bernd Felken from the IHK in Bocholt says. In conjunction with this he refers to the industry initiative of the IHK Nord Westfalen. The IHK thus underlines the importance of the industry and campaigns for better location conditions at the corresponding municipalities. “We always pointed out that we support the development plan for the enlargement project at Klöcker Bros. The recent approval reconfirms this understanding.”

Now all the parties involved hope that things will calm down after the decision has made. According to the company’s spokesperson Melanie Hanning, the positive consequences of the enlargement will be self-explanatory: the building contracts, the new jobs and the fact to have kept a large industrial plant in town. The citizens soon will realize the advantages which go along with this active part of the community.”

And tomorrow…?

Despite the positive result, the “case Klöcker” clearly highlights that is especially industrial enterprises who “have to come across by far too many stumbling stones” when they want to further develop their domestic site. “Although they obviously have become the undisputed engines of the economy during the past years”, Felken says. Of course there need to be possibilities to raise an objection, but it takes too much time to go through all the instances until a final decision can be made. International companies who need to decide whether to go abroad or to invest at their domestic site face location conditions which are particularly rich in contrast. For the region, the positive result of the planning conflict is an important success which primarily could be achieved “thanks to the company’s insistence and loyalty to its domestic location.”

Source: Wirtschaftsspiegel, Michael Jacoby, April 2009