How was business in 2022 and what do you expect for the industry in 2023?
Business went really well in 2022. Most likely, it will be our record year in turnover. For 2023 we expect some of our customers’ industries to slow down investments due to declining consumer demands and the uncertainties of this time. Luckily, our technology can be used in a variety of industries and applications, some of which are relatively new and still growing strongly, such as battery and semiconductor production.
Will you be launching new products or services in 2023?
Honestly, it is not so much about the product itself, but about the technology and the applications we develop together with our customers. Especially with our PlasmaPlus coatings, we see more and more opportunities where they are going to have a huge impact on the sustainable surface treatment without COC and Co2 emissions. Typically, these coatings will be tailor made for the specific application to best meet the customers’ requirements. Moreover, we focus on developing new jet technology for special requirements, e.g. our PFW10LT, a low temperature jet suitable for dedicated and sensitive material, as well as electronic components.
Have supply chain shortages of semiconductors and electronic components caused problems for your company in 2022 and what have you done to reduce these issues in 2023? Like most companies, we have suffered from supply issues, but since we are very close to our suppliers, we have been managing stock levels in a way that helped us to keep business going. We see that our overall lead times have increased as well due to longer lead time in general. We are an international working company with subsidiaries all over the world, so we are in the lucky situation that we could send electronics components from one continent to another if it is necessary.
Are you able to hire enough qualified employees? What could the industry do to develop a larger pool of skilled workers?
At the moment, we are struggling to find enough qualified people. The ongoing shortage of skilled staff and our continuous growth do not fit together very well. We are constantly hiring new employees, but from time to time we have difficulties filling all positions. Fortunately, our technology plays a key role in saving natural resources and protecting the environment, which convinces many applicants. In addition, we have implemented various employer branding campaigns, attend not only trade but also HR fairs, and work closely with universities for internships and theses.
Has your company travel returned to pre-pandemic levels or are you still limiting travel to customer sites or industry conferences in 2023?
For most of the countries we no longer have travel restrictions. Unfortunately, travel was still limited in some countries like China or Taiwan. But at the end of 2022 the Chinese government has changed their plan and made travel easier for our Chinese employees. I hope, we get a normal travel situation within the next weeks or months so that we are able to do “business as usual”, like visiting trade shows, giving presentations and visiting our customers on-site.