"We notice that people are eating at home more"
The corona pandemic has an extremely negative impact on the global economy. We at thyssenkrupp are also feeling this dramatically. We have had to drastically reduce or even temporarily suspend production at most locations. In the automotive business in particular, plants are temporarily at a complete standstill. Fortunately, the situation at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein is different, as demand for packaging steel for cans of all kinds has increased during the crisis. In an interview, Rasselstein CEO Dr. Peter Biele talks about how his business is doing in times of the corona pandemic and how his team is dealing with the situation.
People are currently not only hoarding toilet paper, but also canned food. Do you notice this in the demand for packaging steel?
Yes, definitely. Hoarding may be part of it, but certainly not like toilet paper, which is currently not being used up at a higher rate than usual. But when schools, restaurants and canteens have closed, people will eat at home more and in with their families again. We see the effect of this. What we also see, however, is that chemical containers, for example, paint buckets, etc., are selling well. Thanks to open home improvement stores, people are busily painting their walls.
What are your expectations for the current fiscal year? What are your priorities?
It is hardly possible to predict how long the pandemic will fuel stronger demand. It is not sustainable, we know that, but it may continue for a while. However, it is important that we do not lose sight of our regular business. Especially in these weeks, the usual peak season for us begins with the first harvests - the time when we sell a lot of packaging steel for canned vegetables, for example. So far, demand has remained at a constant level. It is good for our business that it is still raining normally in Southern Europe. We hope that the current lack of rain in northern Europe will not define the summer of 2020. Our priorities are clearly to ensure stable production in Andernach. Our material is in great demand and our customers have great confidence in us. We do not want to and will not disappoint them.
What has changed at Rasselstein due to the corona protection measures? What is the mood among your employees?
It is now paying off that we have been taking precautions for years to be well prepared to respond to pandemic scenarios. Extremely important is our crisis management team, which meets daily and takes the necessary decisions professionally. In our operations, we ensure strict adherence to the rules of distance and hygiene. Around 200 employees work in home offices or only at the company site if the offices are occupied individually. We also communicate the "Dos and Don'ts" to our staff on a daily basis. It is extremely important that we all look after ourselves and our colleagues. And at the same time it is important that we motivate each other in a time when many things are different and also more difficult.
Do you have any corona cases in your company?
Yes, four of our colleagues were infected. They did not infect any of our colleagues through immediately initiated isolation measures. This shows how important it is for us as a company, but also for each and every individual, to deal with the situation responsibly. We all cannot be too careful. Finally, I would therefore like to send a greeting to everyone at thyssenkrupp worldwide: Stay healthy!
thyssenkrupp Rasselstein is one of the world's leading producers of high-quality, precision-machined packaging steel. The Andernach site in Rhineland-Palatinate is the world's biggest production facility of its kind. It produces 1.5 million tons of packaging steel each year. The approximately 2,400 employees serve approximately 400 customers in 80 countries in a variety of markets. These include manufacturers of food and pet food cans, beverage and aerosol cans, containers for chemical and technical products such as paints, as well as crown caps and screw caps.