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Norbert Behrendt to retire from HF Group

The director of HF Group's curing press business unit, Norbert Behrendt, is to retire after half a century, during which time significant milestones have been reached by the company

 

At the end of March 2014, Norbert Behrendt, director of the curing press business unit at the HF Group, will retire after half a century with the company. Jörn Seevers succeeds him.

In 1964, at the age of 15, Norbert Behrendt began his career as an apprentice mechanic for Friedrich Krupp GmbH in Harburg. After his apprenticeship he became acquainted with all manufacturing departments. He helped to modernize the foundry, worked at the gas cutting machines, operated various manufacturing machines, then joined the sheet metal department and finally the special apparatus department for the edible oil industry. At this time, the company was growing continuously.

In 1971 he became head of Krupp’s production planning department and, in 1972, he moved to the process engineering department. That year not only marked a big step forward for the 23-year-old, but for the company as well – the Harburg based company ended a long era of the production of mechanical type curing presses by introducing the first hydraulic curing press to the world market.

In 1977, Behrendt moved to the quotation calculation department. The company sent him along with a colleague, to negotiate an edible oil factory in Paraguay. This would be a defining moment that would further boost his career.

Important years followed for the company: in 1984 the world’s first single stage tire building machine was delivered. In 1987, the first triplex extrusion head was developed by Krupp. Then, in 1988 the company was restructured to become Krupp Kunststofftechnik GmbH.

In the 1990s Behrendt returned as an apprentice to the curing press business. Under significant pressure to produce two curing presses for a customer, whom he struggled to contact, the products were delivered on time to the satisfaction of the customer. However, the business unit itself was stagnating.

Behrendt was promoted to director of the curing press business unit with only eight employees under him. At the same time competitors from developing countries had caught up with Krupp’s development and even overtaken. The question was, give up or commit fully to a completely new approach?

Thus two separate working divisions – Harburg and Freudenberg – were merged in 1997 under the name of Krupp Elastomertechnik. Krupp was the only supplier worldwide able to offer equipment for the complete tire production process to tire manufacturing companies.

To remain competitive in the stagnating curing press division, management travelled around the world looking for partners and in 1998 the solution was found in Croatia where a joint venture was formed. Formed initially of 150 employees, it has multiplied several times since. Today, two factories, one in Belisce and one in Valpovo, operate full time complete with a full machine shop and assembly halls, which are entirely owned by the HF Group.

The turnover of the division has increased year on year and Krupp developed a new column type press. In 2007 Behrendt took over the management of the Croatian factories in addition to his other duties. The site was developed further.

The company was renamed Harburg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau GmbH, a sales office in China – HF Qingdao – was founded and the Pomini Rubber & Plastics was taken over. In 2008, HF Group purchased the Farrel Corporation with operations in the USA, UK, Spain and Singapore. In 2010, the HF Group was organized into three business units: HF Mixing Group, HF TireTech Group and HF Press+LipidTech.

HF Group will exhibit on stand 2050 at Tire Technology Expo 2014.

 

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