From the car you drive, to the smartphone that connects you to every corner of the globe, H.B. Fuller’s adhesive solutions are creating reliable bonds in nearly every type of finished good in the marketplace – from the everyday to the exceptional. The company’s commitment to driving forward adhesive technology and dedication to making customers successful has already made its products and services a popular choice for woodworking and joinery manufacturers. The recent appointment of Antje Gerber as the new business director for durable assembly, and the significant investment programme underway in its EIMEA (Europe, India, Middle East, Africa) operations, suggests it is time to take a closer look at H.B. Fuller’s plans.
Investing in the future
H.B. Fuller’s three-year transformation of its EIMEA business is progressing well.
As Antje Gerber confirms: “Since acquiring Forbo’s industrial adhesives business in 2012, it’s been all systems go for H.B. Fuller. We have been making our organisation more efficient and customer focused, as well as investing the capital required to support the region’s industrial growth. Our €70m investment programme will deliver increased production capacity this year, and lead to the opening of our new state-of-the-art technology centre in Luneburg, Germany. This is an important centre for customer-centric adhesive innovation.”
Gerber, who has been working in the chemical industry for 25 years, took on her latest role after completing her tenure as the director of H.B. Fuller’s transformation programme. She explains: “We put our customers’ needs at the heart of our regional business transformation. Based on the best adhesives from Forbo bonding and H.B. Fuller, we have streamlined our product offerings, and created a great product portfolio for the durable assembly market. Combined with the best-in-class technical expertise of our application specialists team, we deliver solutions that make a real difference for our customers’ performance."
In addition to the Lüneburg technical centre, H.B. Fuller’s investment in Germany includes an impressive overhaul of its adhesives plant in Nienburg, Niedersachen. Antje confirms that the site will continue to be an important adhesive production site for the woodworking industry. It supplies the complete range of adhesive technologies, whether water-based, hot melt, reactive or non-reactive. “Additional capacity also will be generated from our completely refurbished plant in Blois, France, which re-opens next month. As well as continued production from Dukinfield, UK and our upgraded plants in Surbourg, France; Pianezze, Italy; and Mindelo, Portugal – where we have centralised our shared services administration,” continues Gerber.
She concludes: “We are now in great shape to respond even more proactively to our customers’ manufacturing challenges, as well as having the production capacity to support the growth potential of the region, especially in central Europe.”
Technical expertise for great connections
“The desire to innovate, our strong knowledge of chemistry, connected with our dedication to customer focus, are the fundamental components that enable H.B. Fuller to be differentiated from the competition,” says Walter Stadlbauer, technical services manager, durable assembly. “I’ve been working for H.B. Fuller for over 30 years in a variety of roles, including research and development, account management and global programme development, with a main focus on the woodworking industry. This gives me the breadth of knowledge and experience that makes all the difference to my current role.”
Stadlbauer is keen to stress that long-lasting business relationships also play an important role in H.B Fuller’s development of new adhesive technology for today’s world. As a leading technical consultant at H.B. Fuller’s Nienburg plant, he describes how innovation takes place hand-in-hand with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Original Machine Manufacturers (OMMs), as well as with customers.
"We work in partnership, solving problems and developing new concepts. We run tests and trials at the technical centre and, where appropriate, at customer sites to help streamline their production processes and deliver line efficiencies.”
“Our customer support offering is extremely varied. On one hand, we recently helped a company in Romania to build their production line from scratch, so they could deliver high quality products for one of the top furniture manufacturers. On the other hand, we recently worked with a customer to switch their adhesive technology, which improved the speed of their production line, the quality of their finished goods, and helped them increase sales,” he concludes.
These are exciting times for H.B. Fuller’s durable assembly team, with the eagerly anticipated opening of the state-of-the-art Lüneburg technical centre and the refurbished plants at Nienburg and Blois, scheduled for later this year. Add to this the advantages of its streamlined adhesive product range, as well as the experience of its customer-focused team, and it becomes clear why woodworking customers are already enjoying performance benefits from the company’s transformation.