Arno Gärtner and Andreas Schellhammer
The merger between the textile machinery manufacturer Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH, Obertshausen/Gerrmany, and the manufacturer of flat knitting machines H. Stoll AG & Co. KG, Reutlingen/Germany, was completed on July 1, 2020. Karl Mayer is now the leading provider of solutions for the 2 most important stitch-forming processes, flat knitting and warp knitting. The company’s entire expertise in the fields of warp knitting and flat knitting, as well as technical textiles, warp preparation for weaving and digital solutions is now under one roof. Stoll will continue its activities within the Karl Mayer Group as an autonomous business unit. Arno Gärtner is the CEO of the Karl Mayer Group and Andreas Schellhammer (previous CEO of Stoll) is Head of the Stoll Business Unit.
Karl Mayer’s acquisition of Stoll was very surprising for the textile industry. How did it come to the merger?
Arno Gärtner (AG): It was the goal of the Karl Mayer Group to develop additional technological growth potential and, in this context, the company took an interest in Stoll. This international sector leader offered innovative machines, services and comprehensive technology know-how in the field of flat knitting. Stoll’s product and solution portfolio perfectly completed our offers. Together we are now the leading provider of solutions for 2 of the most important stitch-forming processes: warp knitting and flat knitting.
Andreas Schellhammer (AS): In addition, our regional positioning was complementary. Stoll saw the possibility to benefit not only from joint development opportunities but also from Karl Mayer‘s broad global positioning of sales, service and manufacturing locations. The strong global presence benefits our customers and promotes the position of our brand.
After the closing in July, Stoll is now officially part of the Karl Mayer Group. Where does the integration work stand today? What has already been achieved, what is pending?AG:
The acquisition of Stoll opens up far-reaching potentials for our corporate group that are quickly tapped, especially in its core market Asia. Already shortly after conclusion of the sales contract in February this year, the first integration project in started China. In an unparalleled cooperation, the complete Stoll plant in Shanghai moved to our site in Changzhou from March to end of June 2020. With a size of 90,000 m² and modern halls the plant offers optimal conditions for the continuation of Stoll’s quality manufacturing. In addition, the prerequisites were created, so that its Chinese customers can benefit from the resources of Karl Mayer (China) in service and spare parts. One advantage of this is shorter delivery times for spare parts. The contact persons for the Chinese Stoll customers remained the same. AS:
So that the clients in our other markets can also work with their accustomed contacts, we have already provided all Stoll agents worldwide with new contracts. In a further integration step, we intend above all to exploit synergies in R&D. The network offers the basis for new mechanical engineering solutions, textile products and digital offers that make a significant contribution to strengthening our customers in their business environment. First projects for this are in preparation.
What promotes the merger and what challenges need to be overcome?AS:
At the time of the merger, Stoll and Karl Mayer were family-owned enterprises with a long tradition, operating worldwide and number 1 in their markets. They rely on the same values for their success: quality, competence and innovations. Both pioneers pushed ahead with strategic issues such as digitization and sustainability. They also offer their customers qualification: Karl Mayer with the company’s own Academy and Stoll with its Training Center in Reutlingen as well as Fashion Centers in Reutlingen and New York. These commonalities now promote, among other things, the exchange in daily interaction and the growing together. Challenges during the merger arose and continue to arise, especially in the wake of the corona pandemic, for example by shifting the focus of our activities to cushion the economic consequences and travel restrictions.
The Stoll brand stands for highly productive quality machines, trendy textile solutions and many years of know-how in flat knitting. What do the acquisition and brand growth mean for the orientation of the Karl Mayer Group?AG:
The acquisition of Stoll at the beginning of this year, as well as the founding of KM.ON by the end of 2017, are part of our sustainable growth strategy. As part of the targeted expansion, we have developed especially in the last years from the Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH as the original German core company to a global and broad-based group of companies. This now includes more than 20 companies around the world and operates with 5 business units. One of them is Stoll. Under the umbrella of the Karl Mayer group of companies, the 2 new family brands KM.ON and Stoll will be continued independently. KM.ON stands for our digital solutions, Stoll for our flat knitting offerings.