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logo stahlStahl is one of the world's leading suppliers of leather processing products, active in selected niche markets for leather processing and flexible material coatings. It stays ahead of competition in these dynamic markets through innovation, a focus on customer needs and a broad range of high value-added formulated products and services.

Its knowledge, skill base and development capabilities help its customers to be successful not only in terms of cost competitiveness but also in quality and customer satisfaction. Those same qualities are used to improve its own internal processes and keep them cost-effective.

Innovation: external strength, internal efficiency

The target: a lean and effective platform for operational excellence that would enhance customer service and cost effectiveness. Voorne Partners was asked to assist the Stahl company in achieving this objective Stahl had sales, production and development in several European countries. It began consolidating part of its European operation into one legal entity to reduce activities that did not add value. The basis for this was a feasibility study, conducted by Voorne Partners, for a Single Business Entity (SBE).

All internal processes were reviewed, from supply chain to order intake, from new product introduction to product costing. By creating distribution and customer service centres that were 100% customer focused, Stahl also rationalised its asset base and organisation.

An SBE is a cost effective and efficient operating platform, which increases management information and control, reduces inter-company complexity, simplifies financial reporting requirements and enables processes to be standardised across Europe. Stahl's SBE increased the company's ability to benefit further from its agility and entrepreneurial qualities, as it enabled easier implementation of changes to the supply chain, organisation and IT support systems.

Building on a firm foundation

To bring about the change, Stahl set up an SBE project team and in parallel started a project to upgrade its IT systems. Voorne Partners was invited to assist in this European exercise. The first step was to develop a blueprint covering designs for all different aspects of the project, such as the trading model, the legal and fiscal impact, organisational impact and process impact. The blueprint serves as a basis for designing IT support systems and for managing all the changes involved. Voorne Partners contributed its expertise in all areas of SBE implementation and supported the project management and change management effort.

Clearly Change Management played an important role and Voorne guided Stahl in managing this important building block, by embedding the change themes in the organisation.

The finished product

Careful preparation paid off and at the start of 2005 Stahl's SBE came into full operation without major difficulties.

In parallel, Stahl began implementing the supply chain, organisation and process improvements. Some elements were initiated immediately after the feasibility study, others are still to come, but thanks to the SBE platform further improvements are more easily implemented.stahl leathers fair

The quality of the design work concerned in this project is illustrated by the fact that the important building blocks for European changes have been used to enhance Stahl's business processes in Asia and the Americas.

Christ Daamen, Project Sponsor of Stahl : 'The knowledge, expertise and guidance of Voorne Partners was a critical success factor for the project in delivering what it was originally promised to do: a lean and effective operational excellence platform that will further enhance the customer service and cost effectiveness of our European business'.

Stahl is one of the world's leading suppliers of leather processing products and also has strong positions in other selected market niche areas with proprietary products such as PermuthaneĀ®. The Stahl Business is a focused group of Strategic Business Units (SBU) offering a broad range of high value-added formulated products and services oriented towards addressing specific customer's requirements in selected niche markets in leather processing and flexible material coatings.

Today, Stahl operates 9 manufacturing sites and 26 strategically located technical service laboratory facilities world-wide and employs some 1,400 people in more than 28 countries many of whom are engaged in basic research and development of new products and processes. Almost one quarter of them are dedicated technical experts based at applications laboratories offering top-level local custom-made service wherever leather is being processed throughout the world.

Stahl: Leather on a European last