A mayor and a managing director talk about site perspectives
Klaus Krützen has been the mayor of the city of Grevenbroich since November 2015. Previously he worked as a teacher and a school principal.
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski has been the managing director of ACTEGA Rhenania GmbH since October 2013. Before that, he worked for BYK-Chemie GmbH and thus for one of the ALTANA Group’s four divisions.
Mr. Krützen, how important in your experience are local site factors and having a sufficient number of local employees and suppliers?
Klaus Krützen: Extremely important! In many companies, people from Grevenbroich and the Rhine district of Neuss constitute the core group of employees. And when contracts are awarded local needs are considered to view the region as a whole and to strengthen it. We in Grevenbroich can say that the cooperation with companies is very good. This is reflected by the fact that both big and small companies generate considerable value locally.
Dr. Sawitowski, what role do the company’s regional roots play for its long-term success?
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: Our company is successful locally. One reason is that despite our international orientation we have local roots. An example is our employees. Around 90 percent of our staff lives within a radius of 20 kilometers. And some of our employees are third-generation ACTEGA Rhenania staff members. We are quite proud of this great allegiance! And it is very important for us, because our company’s success depends in large part on having loyal, qualified employees. That’s why we are investing strongly in staff training and education. We have a high trainee rate, seven percent.
Isn’t it difficult to get enough young talents interested in a region that is undergoing structural change …
Klaus Krützen: … presumably you are alluding to the fact that Grevenbroich is closely associated with lignite?
Klaus Krützen: But that is no longer the reality found here. Our residential and leisure value can certainly hold their own against those of other cities and regions. Grevenbroich is a green city. Life here is rural and rustic, but thanks to the excellent infrastructure people can reach big cities quickly. So it’s important to me that we take a closer look at the region in our discussion. Then you will see that we are well linked to different airports and have an outstanding infrastructure. These are valuable assets.
Where do you see potential for action?
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: First, I would like to point out that we have been at this location for more than 100 years. At this site, we successfully create value for customers, employees, our owner, and the entire company. We develop and manufacture a number of products that people come into contact with on a daily basis. An example is our special coatings for coffee capsules. By the way, with our new customer technical center we now offer our customers the opportunity to test new packaging trends locally.
How many employees can the new laboratory building accommodate?
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: Of the 150 employees at the site, initially around 50 will carry out their work there. Thanks to the ideas that will be developed in our new laboratory building, in the future, too, we will be able to sustain our position on the world market from Grevenbroich. This should not be taken for granted, and we can’t rest on our laurels. For example, the city has grown closer and closer to us. Today, we at ACTEGA Rhenania are even integrated in a residential environment, which poses new challenges such as noise pollution from truck traffic. But we are finding solutions to such challenges, as we did in the past. We continue to believe in the site. Having said that, I must add that it is becoming harder and costlier to implement measures to expand the site. Because there are more and more hurdles on the way to implementation.
As a local politician, is your main task to mediate between companies and citizens?
Klaus Krützen: I am a mayor because I want to carry people along. People want to be integrated. And that is their right. But sometimes, when weighing up private and public interests, I have to acknowledge certain things and decide otherwise. Please don’t get me wrong. Decisions should and must not be made over the public’s heads. But unfortunately it is very hard to reconcile everyone’s interests.
Do we need new forms of cooperation between politicians and companies in order to better explain local needs?
Klaus Krützen: What is decisive is to sit down and talk about such issues in a timely manner.
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: The cooperation between Mr. Krützen, the administration as a whole, and our company is working well. We work in consultation with the authorities. That enables us to talk openly with each other, even with short official channels, whenever it is possible and sensible. And we also invite neighbors to discuss matters with us.
How exactly does this transpire, for example when a new laboratory building is built?
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: At the meetings, we present our plans to them and entertain their questions. Also, our neighbors can always approach us at ACTEGA Rhenania with their concerns, personally, by email, or over the phone.
To return to the subject of private versus public interests, do things really always run smoothly?
Dr. Thomas Sawitowski: No, but that’s not surprising. During the construction phase there were adversarial conversation situations. But there were also very friendly encounters. After the building was completed, a neighbor approached me in the parking lot and said that it was a beautiful building after all!
In the new laboratory building, processes have been merged and thus optimized. Customers are now supported more efficiently with new developments. Around ten million Euros were invested in the building.
ACTEGA IN GREVENBROICH
NEW LABORATORY BUILDING
Encompassing 5,700 square meters, the new laboratory building is twice as large as the two previous labs at the site. Now research and development, quality control, and technical service are all under one roof.
+ 100 % LABORATORY SPACE