Almost exactly 60 years ago, M. Eng. Otto Lefnaer founded the Württembergische Allplastik GmbH, by then headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. In the beginning, the company manufactured plastic articles for different areas of application, e.g. housings for the clock and watch industry, packaging for the pharmaceutical industry, or even toys. Later the enterprise specialized on the manufacturing of quick fasteners and cable ties, distributing them worldwide to date.
Since 1986, the founder's son Björn Gunnar Lefnaer (47) has been successfully managing the company with a long tradition, in the meantime located in Herrenberg, Germany, due to the necessary expansion of the production facilities. The products are manufactured by modern injection moulding machines.
Recently IEN Europe talked to Björn Gunnar Lefnaer about his company's secret of success and the latest technical developments.
IEN: Mr Lefnaer, everybody knows cable ties from everyday life. Within your product portfolio, you differentiate between cable ties, quick fasteners, flat cable ties, round cable ties, etc. Could you please tell us the difference between those products?
Lefnaer: Generally spoken, quick fasteners can be reopened, while our cable ties cannot be reopened. They consist of polyamide, feature a high tensile strength and are available in 30 different lengths in the standard colours natural and black, as well as in special colour options. Apart from the standard version, we offer round and flat cable ties for microelectronics, and heat and UV resistant versions, too.
The quick fasteners have a special closing mechanism that, in conjunction with a round profile, offers maximum strength and reliable closing. Apart from its function as a fastener, with the dual-closure design it is possible to create a hanging loop. The terms 'Blitzbinder' (quick fasteners) and 'Allplastik-Kabelbinder' (Allplastik cable ties) are our registered trademarks.
IEN: In which industries are your products primarily used?
Lefnaer: Our cable ties, as well as our quick fasteners, have a very broad range of application. They are used in such different areas as machine building, the automotive industry, the building and construction business, packaging, the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, but also in agriculture, viniculture, in hospitals or laundries. Currently we serve around 20,000 customers.
IEN: Geographically speaking, where are your main customers?
Lefnaer: Our focus market is certainly Europe, especially Germany. In Europe, we distribute our products from our headquarters in Herrenberg, Germany. However, we are quite strong in the United States and Canada as well. As a consequence, we have established our own selling agency in Chicago in 2006.
IEN: Your company has been successful for 60 years now. What's the key to your long term success?
Lefnaer: First and foremost it's the high quality of our products, which is a result of the supreme quality of the raw materials we use. Furthermore we deliver our quick fasteners and cable ties from stock. Last but not least we show a high flexibility when it comes to customer specific solutions.
IEN: Your most recent development has been detectable quick binders. Could you please explain this product and its areas of application?
Lefnaer: My invention, which we have launched roughly one year ago, are detectable quick fasteners. For this we had to develop a special compound that contains a certain metal portion. With this new filler material it is possible to detect even the slightest fragments.
The new FDA and EU 10/2011 compliant products are available in several different lengths, sizes and colours. They are primarily used in the food and beverage industry, which requires that a product like ours is detectable. Just imagine, for example, a quick fastener drops into a yoghurt. In that case, with respect to product safety, this "containment" should be detectable. That is the reason why the food and beverage industry frequently uses detectable quick fasteners.
IEN: How has this product been received by the market?
Lefnaer: The reception has been very positive. Among our customers in the food and beverage industry, there are many companies that exclusively use the detectable quick binders.
IEN: How are the detectable quick binders actually detected?
Lefnaer: The operator just has to use a metal detector.
IEN: Would you say that the quality of your products has already reached a maximum, or is there still pontential for optimization?
Lefnaer: I assume that, as far as the quality of our quick binders and cable ties is concerned, we have reached a maximum and there is no potential for optimization.
IEN: Mr Lefnaer, thank you very much fort he interview.