EXCLUSIVE HEINZ-GLAS INTERVIEW

Taking over as Owner and CEO of the HEINZ‐GLAS Group last year, Carletta Heinz is the 13th generation of leadership in the company’s 400‐year history. She spoke exclusively to Glass Worldwide about the latest developments and investment initiatives at the world’s leading family‐owned flaconnage producer. The full version of this article appears in the Nov/Dec issue that has been mailed globally and is also now available free of charge in the digital archive*.

EXCLUSIVE HEINZ-GLAS INTERVIEW

GW: How challenging was it to take over as CEO of the HEINZ‐GLAS Group in July 2020 at a time of unprecedented market conditions during the Covid‐19 pandemic?

It is a challenge to take over a company at any time. That’s why I have great respect for the tasks I’ve taken on and I am fully aware of my responsibilities. The pandemic and its negative impact on the global economy were tough, and we also had a lot to struggle with. After years of moderate growth in our global sales, there was a significant slump in 2020. This unforeseeable development showed that growth and success cannot be taken for granted and how quickly the situation can change. But still, the excitement was great because I approach my job with a lot of optimism and enthusiasm.

GW: What are the highlights of the company’s performance since that time?

Our global team has achieved extraordinary things and has come together. We have focused on our strengths keeping in mind our customers, innovations and the fundamental actions necessary to remain successful in the future. We built our furnace in Peru, restarted opal glass production in Germany with a new furnace, and also started building another furnace in Poland. In China, we are currently building a new plant with glass production and decoration. Start of production will hopefully be in quarter 1 2022. What helped us a lot during the crisis was a wider portfolio. In addition to perfumery, we offer a wide range of packaging for skincare cosmetics. This market has been much more stable and has helped us in our overall result. Thanks to our Sales department for their great job on this.

GW: What are you finding to be the main challenges and opportunities of managing plants in a multinational and multicultural group?

I enjoy working in a multicultural environment. The different approaches; the different perspectives always add value to our own behaviour and decisions. Adapting to new or different cultures is key to our business. The world is getting closer together and the borders we have are disappearing. The challenge is to be flexible enough to meet the specific needs of the different regions, but also to have enough standardised products and processes to simplify the company’s workflows. You have to find the right mix between global thinking and local needs.

GW: In a traditionally male‐dominated sector, do you believe your role as CEO of a leading player can help encourage more women to join the glass industry?

We at HEINZ‐GLAS stand for equality of gender, nationality, religion and sexual orientation. I am very happy if my role encourages more women to work not only in the glass industry but also in management positions. We filled our Board with the people we thought best suited, without using gender as a criterion. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we now have an even gender distribution on the Board.

GW: Recently appointed as Chief Operating Officer to take over the operational lead, supervising and optimisation of the glass production and decoration worldwide, what qualities will Christian Fröba bring to the company?

Christian has been the perfect fit for the open COO position. He brings with him an excellent education; [he] learned a lot in his previous professional life at Emhart that plays a central role in our production, and knows the glassmaking business very well. He knows other glass factories from different industries than ours and can thus provide input that we do not yet have internally. In addition, he is born and raised in our area, so he was also no stranger to the mentality of the people here. I am very happy that he has come home and will now continue his journey with us in the Heinz family.

GW: Are any of the markets you serve performing better than others and if so, what is the driving force?

Currently, we are very satisfied with all the markets in which we operate. Our lines are full, and we have reached the pre‐pandemic figures. Skincare dominates, but perfume is also making a comeback. Our customers are launching new developments and entering new markets together with us. If new variants of the coronavirus do not lead to further shutdowns, markets will recover quickly. And China of course is a big driving force.

GW: Installed in March 2021, how successful has the investment in the new ‘special furnace’ with Fives at your Kleintettau facility proven?

At that time, we made a very critical decision. By investing 15 million euros in this furnace, we have secured 120 jobs in our plants and another 120 with suppliers. We kept our promise to our customers and delivered. After the expected start‐up difficulties, we are pleased to say that we have been able to operate opal glass production to satisfaction. From September, we were able to produce flint glass with this furnace as well. The production of opal glass will then take place again at our Polish site.

GW: Do you plan to replicate the technology elsewhere within the group?

Even more than the furnace itself, the feeder technology is special. We are constantly thinking about improving the core technology as well, together with our suppliers, and therefore we would also replicate technologies elsewhere if necessary. Let’s see what else we will achieve, and then we will decide how to proceed.

GW: Following HORN’s recent announcement that it is working on the HEINZ‐GLAS furnace in Piesau, what are the latest updates on that plant?

We will start the construction of our furnace in Piesau next year and finish it in the first half of the year. At the same time, we will have our 400th anniversary celebration. We will be celebrating our founding in 1622, and I think that’s incredible. The planning is going well. We do not expect any difficulties and will also use the construction period to make some important changes in the production environment, such as preparing for a GMP‐compliant area.

GW: With SORG rebuilding and restarting the electric furnace in Dzialdowo and EME undertaking a turnkey project, what are the latest developments at your Polish operations?

I am very excited about this project because the opal production will be moved back to Poland, where it had been until March 2020, until the furnace broke. From today’s perspective, we can start production [at the] end of this year. We are very satisfied with our suppliers and are looking forward to the next months.

GW: Are there any other major investment projects at your plants in the pipeline and if so, where?

This is already a lot and we now must focus on realising all these projects before making the next steps. We are also continuously expanding our capacities in the decoration plants and developing further in existing and new technologies. Compared to a new furnace, these investments are of course relatively moderate.

GW: How would you summarise the company’s investment strategy across the operations?

We are proud to be one of the few, maybe even the only supplier, who can deliver high quality and individual glass as well as standardised products. Our plants in Kleintettau, Piesau, Dzialdowo, Kosamba and Lima can cover all needs and have a wide range of decoration possibilities to offer. Our investment strategy is based on the strengths of the individual sites to set even clearer accents there. Automation and digitalisation will be one of the most important challenges for us and as a pioneer in sustainable production we will do everything necessary to help our planet by reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible.

GW: What is the status of the proposed greenfield investment in China?

Our construction site is going well. At the time of this interview, we are waiting for our technical team to get to China to take the next steps. The current travel restrictions are stringent, so we are waiting for the green light from the local authorities to send them off without keeping them in quarantine for too long. The co‐operation with the local construction company is very good and we are glad we chose them. Once we start production there, which should be in the first half of 2022, we could have some interesting projects underway with our customers.

EXCLUSIVE HEINZ-GLAS INTERVIEW

GW: What was the motivation for the Chinese investment and how will the operation there complement your existing business?

My family has been a world traveller for so long. My ancestors were already travelling through Europe and beyond in the 17th century by ox and cart. So, there is no doubt that we also want to enter new markets worldwide like China. We go where the demand matches our glass manufacturing capabilities, and China is a fast‐growing market that is participating in the global trend and developing its own interesting brands. We want to be part of that. Together with our existing customers and with new local players, we want to have another foothold for our Group. We will provide glass and decoration. We will use the technical and development know‐how of the headquarters and the ambitious skills of the local staff. This is exciting and promising.

GW: Looking ahead, will the HEINZ‐GLAS Group continue growth via further investments in greenfield projects or acquisitions?

As already mentioned, we first need to complete the big investments that we have already started. After that, of course, we will keep our eyes open for new interesting opportunities. Growing too fast also carries risks. That’s why we always stabilise ourselves first and check the current status before taking the next step.

GW: Across the operations, how is HEINZ‐GLAS investing in its workforce and how important are your people to the company’s performance?

Our employees are our most important resource. The technical know‐how they have and the passion they show at work makes me proud. [Occasionally] we face difficult times, but so far we have come through them together and left stronger. We have several career programmes on offer and more in the pipeline, and we want to promote talent and high potential even more. At the same time, it is important for us to be an attractive employer for production lines day after day so that we can supply our customers with high-quality products. We see that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled workers. We understand that change affects us all, so we try to keep up with these changes and be ready for the future.

GW: Are you particularly pleased with any recent product launches?

 am very happy about Phantom de Paco Rabanne [new men’s fragrance in a robot‐shaped bottle]. Together with [brand owner] Puig we have done an incredible job. This design is really something special! But of course there are many more launches that I’m excited about.

GW: Are further product launches in the pipeline and if so, in which sectors?

Product launches are driven by markets and customers. We are a partner for them and [undertake the journey] together. From our side we are providing new‐standard products with new ideas regarding design and sustainable solutions. In decoration we are working on some really nice things. Have a look at our ‘Haute Couture de Décoration’ series. I love it.

GW: In general across the group, what are your expectations for the business in 2022?

That depends very much on the course of the pandemic. If we can get this under control, I am optimistic about 2022. The signs from the market are positive and we are prepared for this.

GW: How does the company benefit from membership to trade organisations such as FEVE and BV‐Glas? Are you personally active with any committees at such associations?

Membership is very important and we benefit a lot from it. Trade organisations help our industry to support our interests and also to make special aspects of the industry understood, both in politics and with our customers. I am personally a member of the FEVE and BV‐Glas boards together with two colleagues. Other experts from our company sit on the specialist committees.

GW: In general, what are the main challenges facing HEINZ‐GLAS?

Climate change and the resulting consequences will have a huge impact on our world and of course also on our industry. Dealing with this and adjusting production accordingly will be a big challenge. But we have already taken the right steps and are pioneers in our industry when it comes to sustainability. We were the first in Europe to use climate‐friendly electro furnaces 50 years ago. Our purchased electricity in Europe is already CO2‐free and we can offer PCR glass and lightweight articles at all our sites worldwide. Having the right people in the right positions is becoming more difficult every year. It is already a challenge to find qualified craftsmen or even young people who are willing to undergo vocational training in the field of glass manufacturing. That’s why we train our skilled workers ourselves with excellent programmes and show young people how great a job at a glass factory can be. As for everyone and every company, digitisation is another key to success. We are currently in the process of introducing SAP [software] at our German sites. In the following years, this will be followed by the rollout at our locations worldwide. In addition, various digitisation projects are underway in the administrative area, in production and also for our customers. For example, our customers can now accompany pilot series without having to enter the plant.

GW: And the main opportunities?

In all challenges there are also opportunities. If we can overcome these challenges quickly and better than our competitors, we will be in a good position. Another opportunity is to make the right use of our global positioning and offer the markets what they want and what we can do.

 


Images: The HEINZ-GLAS Executive Board (left to right: Christian Fröba, Carletta Heinz, Virginia Elliott and Frank Martin) and the greenfield construction site in China.

 

Further Information: 

HEINZ‐GLAS Group, Tettau‐Kleintettau, Germany
tel: +49 9269 770
email: info@heinz‐glas.com
web: www.heinz‐glas.com

 

* The full version of this article appears in the Nov/Dec issue that has been mailed globally. The digital version of this issue can also currently be read free of charge in its entirety alongside back copies in the Digital Archive (sponsored by FIC) at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/Digital-Issues. To receive the paper copy, all future issues and a free copy of the Who’s Who / Annual Review 2021-22 yearbook, subscribe now at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/subscription-choice

Click here for our Hot Topics latest news round-up