On 18 June 2018 the foundation stone was laid for the new Grass central warehouse in Hohenems (Vorarlberg/Austria). The leading manufacturer of moving systems for the furniture industry is erecting a hub for its European production sites costing €45m. 

This is the biggest investment of the Würth Group in the company’s history, a clear commitment to the location Vorarlberg as well as a prerequisite for further growth. From the end of 2019 about 150 employees will be working in Hohenems.

In the presence of the owners, representatives from all production sites and prominent members from politics, the economy and media, the foundation stone for the new central warehouse was laid. Costing €45m, this is the biggest investment the company of the Würth Group has made in its 71-year history.

The building company Goldbeck Rhomberg will construct the central warehouse on a property measuring 43,000m2. It offers a total of 30,000 pallet positions on 22 levels. The operations are planned to begin at the end of 2019, initially with 150 employees. The factories in Hohenems will then deliver finished products which have gone through the customisation, packaging and order-picking process based on the individual customers’ requests.

Third facility in Vorarlberg

Grass was founded in 1974 in Höchst. Other production sites of the group are Salzburg (Austria), Reinheim (Germany) with the affiliated factory in Krumlov (Czech Republic) and Kernersville (USA). Götzis, a second facility in Vorarlberg, was added through the merger with the Mepla-Alfit Group in 2007. Now a third one is being created with the ultramodern central warehouse, which will serve all European production facilities as a hub.

In 2017, Grass achieved sales of €368m with almost 2000 co-workers at 18 locations around the world. With more than 200 sales partners in 60 countries, Grass is globally one of the leading specialists in moving systems. Grass slide and drawer systems as well as the hinge and flap systems are brand products that are fitted in the furniture of renowned manufacturers.

Operations at Grass’ new central warehouse are planned to begin at the end of 201 – with a total of 30,000 pallet positions on 22 levels – initially with 150 employees

Key strategic project

“Optimising the supply chain management is a core challenge for being successful in the long term,” is how Thomas Zenker, Spokesman of the Grass management board, describes the motivation for the biggest investment in the company’s history. “Our order books are full and the demand of the market is excellent. However, there were opportunities which weren’t taken advantage of due to the strong growth in previous years. 

“With the central warehouse we’re resolving one of the most important bottlenecks and creating the prerequisites for profitable and sustainable development.”

Grass has been part of the Würth Group since 2004 and is in a very healthy position. “Investments in logistics, especially to this extent, are always a sign of growth and development. With the function of the central warehouse, we’ll be able to significantly shorten our reaction times,” Robert Friedmann, spokesman of the board of directors of the Würth Group, says with satisfaction. He adds: “I’m happy that the company has developed in such a dynamic way.”

Trial run in Feldkirch

As an interim solution, the former spinning mill in Feldkirch-Gisingen was leased. An external warehouse was established there and the planned production and logistics processes were put through a trial run. With this preliminary work it was possible to test the positive effects and reduce the complexity of the start of operations in Hohenems scheduled for 2019.

The processes optimised through using the central warehouse will allow the specialised production sites to concentrate on their core competencies – production and development. This will make it easier to make use of synergies and utilise the best-practice examples developed at individual locations more effectively in the entire group.

Ground-breaking ceremony with symbolic meaning

Six time-capsules are placed in the foundation stone, five for the existing production sites and the sixth for the joint central warehouse. 

Representatives from the existing locations presented individually filled containers to the patrons: Robert Friedmann as representative of the Würth Group, Walter-Heinz Rhomberg for the building contractor, the deputy state governor Karlheinz Rüdisser and mayor Dieter Egger as well as members of the Grass management board, Thomas Zenker, Thomas Müller and André Stiller. 

The patrons placed the capsules into the foundation stone, which will be added to the building at a very visible place in the central warehouse. The symbolic act ended with best wishes for a smooth construction process without accidents.

Impulse for a business location

“We are pleased that Grass is moving to Hohenems, the jobs associated with this and the starting signal for the trendsetting Project EMSPARK A14. This area next to the autobahn is an ideal location for the project. Thus, also the first ground-breaking ceremony of the new business area in Hohenems, which will create several hundred jobs, was held by Grass. 

“With it, Hohenems will make an important contribution to the economic development of Vorarlberg,” adds the mayor of Hohenems, Dieter Egger.

“Economic development and social prosperity go hand in hand. This commitment to the location Vorarlberg will create 150 jobs, the basis for independent and autonomous co-existence,” says deputy governor Karlheinz Rüdisser. 

“It’s in the interest and a joint responsibility of employers, employees and politics to make the necessary development possible in order to maintain the quality of life in the future as well. The current project shows how this can be achieved,” concludes Karlheinz.