Borgholzhausen, 18 February 2021 – Rien ne va plus. Stretched to the limit – for the moment, at least. A glance inside the production facility of intralogistics specialist Westfalia Logistics Solutions Europe GmbH & Co. KG at their location in Industriestrasse 11 in Borgholzhausen quickly shows why. With its production process bursting at the seams, this machine and plant manufacturer – a member of the Hüllhorst Wortmann Group (“Terra-Computer”) – is defying the COVID-19 pandemic. So as of 1 January 2023, it will relocate from its site in Industriestrasse to the IBV commercial centre in Borgholzhausen / Versmold. Currently, around 160 people are employed at the company headquarters in Borgholzhausen.

Production running on 6,000 sqm

Factory manager Christian Schlief.

The company now has to bridge the time until it moves to its new, state-of-the-art, 10,000 sqm plant, and must handle numerous major projects on the 6,000 sqm available for now. So works director Christian Schlief has taken an unusual step: He has cut a hole in the front of the production hall. “That’s the only way I can manage handling our numerous orders all at once, some of which are for 40-meter-long storage and retrieval machines,” says the graduate engineer. Over the last 5 years, the East Westphalian company has perceived a clear trend towards taller storage and retrieval machines (SRMs) that automatically travel to the rack slots, storing and retrieving hundreds of pallets an hour. “40 meters is not that unusual, it’s the new normal,” adds Christian Schlief.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made one thing clear: Westfalia is working in an industry with a bright future. “The prices for logistics services and transport are hitting the roof,” is how Andreas Gartemann, managing partner at Westfalia, describes the market. As an example, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), the ocean freight price for a 20-foot standard container (SCFI) rose by 127 per cent from April to November 2020, and the World Container Index (WCI) reports an increase of up to 198 percent for 40-foot containers. “Moreover, the just-in-time availability of products cannot currently be relied on,” adds Gartemann. As a result, warehousing is much sought after – and therefore going up in price. This is the perfect situation for Westfalia in Borgholzhausen, with its focus on highly compact and efficient warehouse systems.

Planning security until 2022

Andreas Gartemann, CEO

It is no wonder, therefore, that the company is currently enjoying full order books that keep it busy, and can plan with certainty until way into 2022. However, it faces challenges in the ambitious deadlines that customers often set, together with sudden changes in schedule. “After all, we’re not the only people involved on a given construction site, and often we have to respond flexibly to a site’s changing schedule. So we need more reserve capacity in our facility to handle such changes in our project business,” says works director Christian Schlief. That is one more reason why Westfalia could not delay acting on its expansion plans despite the uncertainties in COVID-19 year 2020, and even had to speed things up.

Having bought 7 hectares of land in 2019, the Westfalia Group shareholders, Andreas Gartemann and Siegbert Wortmann, last year bought another 2 hectares for future extension options, situated in the Osnabrück area, close to the access road to motorway A33. In 2010, Siegbert Wortmann, founder and chairman of the IT company Wortmann AG in Hüllhorst, acquired a majority holding in the Westfalia Group and together with Andreas Gartemann and Matthias Upmeyer brought the long-established company back up to its old economic strength.

New company address “Am Teuto 1”

The intralogistics specialist will relocate from its Industriestrasse site to the IBV commercial area in Borgholzhausen / Versmold as of 1 January 2023. The original plan was to have two construction phases, with initially only the production facility relocating to the “Am Teuto 1” address. This underwent a radical rethink, among other things because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was decided to build a new administration and office building in the IBV zone at the same time.

New location at the IBV.

“COVID-19 has shown us all how the world of work will change. Mobile working, and working from home, will doubtless remain with us, at least up to a certain degree. But we also hear from our employees that they greatly appreciate to be in touch personally. Telephone, messenger services and video calls just can’t fully replace personal interaction,” is how Andreas Gartemann explains the reasons for merging the two construction phases. A passionate volleyball coach of the Westfalia team, he compares this project to sport: “Our project business is like a decathlon, bring multiple disciplines together under one roof. Having two geographically separate locations would simply not have been suitable for our close-knit departments or for our mission to give each customer a perfect logistics project.”

A complex of energy-saving buildings

At the new location, the office and administration areas will be upsized from around 3,000 to 5,000 sqm, and the production and warehouse from around 6,000 to 10,000 sqm.  The new building will considerably optimize processes within the plant. And in the future, a new two-lane test station will not only give Westfalia twice the testing capacity, but also enough buffer zones for finished SRMs that are needed to cope with the uncertainties of project schedules.

As planned, the new complex of buildings will measure approx. 140x66 meters and have an energy-saving construction design. It will be heated by an eco-friendly air source heat pump. The roofs of the buildings, and of the partially covered parking spaces, will be equipped with photovoltaic panels. “Our compact high-bay warehouses have always contributed to sustainability. In the future, our new place of work will also contribute to a reduced CO2 footprint,” says Andreas Gartemann.

Adhesives manufacturer Bostik to move to old Westfalia site

Relocation of the entire company will enable its next-door neighbour, adhesives system manufacturer Bostik, to bring its various facilities together at its headquarters: Bostik has bought a part (around 5,000 sqm) of the current Westfalia site totalling around 21,000 sqm and will take a long-term lease on the remaining part and existing buildings (around 15,000 sqm). The directors signed the relevant agreement at the end of 2020.

Current headquarter at Industriestrasse 11.

Thus, the Westfalia Group has two reasons for celebration at the start of the year. “As well as the upcoming start of construction work, on 18 February we are celebrating our 50th company anniversary. And we are so pleased that our newly build facility demonstrates our commitment to the Borgholzhausen location,” says Andreas Gartemann. “Thanks to the Wortmann Group and the support of the towns of Versmold and Borgholzhausen we can continue to grow successfully and continuously all over Europe, at our commercially central location and with currently just on 250 employees. With an annual turnover of more than 40 million euros, we came through 2020, which was a difficult business year for many companies, in a very stable position.”

Last year, customers—especially those in the food, beverages, packaging and corrugated cardboard industries—were initially understandably hesitant to invest in new equipment. “But by the turn of the year, we were able to win several large orders. And our considerably expanded service section with its service and modernization business, and our software and IT section that has also seen strong growth, have put us in a good starting position for the next 50 years of active and cooperative customer support.”

The IBV was the right choice

For the mayors of Versmold and Borgholzhausen, this is yet another milestone in their successful cooperation on the joint industrial and commercial area of the two towns. Thanks to the now completed A33 motorway, the IBV has excellent transport connections right at the centre of this strong economic region, and in the last 20 years, numerous companies have made their home on the around 50 hectares that the joint authorities have developed. “This final portion of approximately 9 hectares means that marketing and construction work is virtually completed. And with Westfalia onboard, we have achieved exactly what we hoped for: to keep successful and expanding regional companies at our location so that we can protect and create new jobs,” says Michael Meyer-Hermann, Mayor of Versmold and chairman of the IBV association. “There was also always criticism that such large areas of land would be built over,” remembers Dirk Speckmann, head of the IBV association and Mayor of Borgholzhausen. “So it was important to us for the companies to save space and build sustainably. So the roof of the new hall of the neighbouring logistics company, B&S, will have a 2.1 megawatt photovoltaic system. And I am enthusiastic about Westfalia’s new building, with its high standard of energy conservation and comprehensive use of solar energy, with photovoltaic panels on the roof and partly even at the car park.”

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