Activity is low in the Port of Karlsruhe. It is Tuesday morning on a day in July, and the city does not really seem to have woken up. Here at the mouth of the 1,000-kilometre long River Rhine, which cuts Europe in half from the Netherlands in the west to Rumania in the east, lies one of Mocopinus’s processing units. This German wood products company has been a Setra customer for many years. In order to manufacture its products, which include floors, decking and interior and exterior claddings, Mocopinus buys sawn timber from among others Setra’s whitewood sawmills in Heby, Hasselfors and Färila. When SetraNews visits the unit, Tobias Springhorn, purchaser at the company, meets us in the office foyer. He shows us the newly built showroom which is next to the entrance. A number of Mocopinus’s products are on display here.
“This is rather fun,” he says pointing out a cladding with text on it. “We can now print text, symbols and patterns straight onto the cladding. Perfect for something like a bar or restaurant. This showroom provides a good feeling for what we have to offer. It is important to be able to see, feel and even smell the material. It makes things more tangible and inspiring.”
Majority in whitewood
Mocopinus is basically a family business. It was formed back in 1865 and is therefore celebrating its 150th anniversary this year . But the name is only a few years old. In the wake of the financial crisis several of the company’s brands were merged. Pinus, Pinufin and Moco became Mocopinus. When the company was formed it was a wood products retailer. Then sawmills came into its possession. But today the focus is entirely on processing at two planing mills, one in Karlsruhe and one in Ammelshain outside Leipzig in northern Germany.
“We have a total of about 240 employees in the company. Here in Karlsruhe we have 120. The remainder are at our head office in Ulm or our unit in Ammelshain,” says Tobias.
The majority of Mocopinus’s products, a total of approximately 85%, are manufactured from whitewood. They buy in sawn wood products primarily from Finland. But a significant proportion also comes from Sweden.
“Swedish wood has an unbelievably high quality. It is strong and durable. Here in Germany the trees grow too fast. We can also have problems with discolouration. This is why we turn to more northerly countries for our raw material,” says Tobias, and goes on to highlight another important factor.
“We only manufacture products that are made of wood that is certified according to FSC and PEFC. This is extremely important to us. It is not enough for the raw material to be controlled, it must really be certified.”
Tobias praises Setra as a trustworthy supplier. He also tells us that volumes purchased from Setra, which have been at a stable level, will now increase.
“We have very high demands on the timber that we buy in and we really need to be able to trust the people with whom we do business. This involves getting what we want on time, that it really is certified timber and that it is customised for us when it comes to lengths and so on. Setra meets our needs and wishes. Above all they are a supplier that is solution-driven. This is unusual. I feel both trust and confidence when I’m in contact with Setra, which is highly positive. This makes it very easy to do business.”
Practice what they preach
Tobias takes us for a walk round the production area of the unit. Huge walls of timber climb up towards the ceiling in the vast warehouse. Every now and then, trucks whiz past. Mocopinus’s finished packages light up the warehouse with their high visibility green and blue packaging. We visit the actual planing mill and then go on to where the painting is done. Some of Mocopinus’s products are delivered pre-painted in a variety of different colours. At the unit in Karlsruhe there is a small laboratory where new paints are mixed and tested. It is important that the paints are sustainable and can cope with different environments. Inside the laboratory everything is very secret.
“It’s probably best to turn off your camera in here,” says Tobias with a smile.
During the tour Roland Keppler, one of Setra’s two customer managers in Germany, who is with us on the visit, inspects some packets that have arrived from Setra. He is quick to praise Mocopinus and says that they practice what they preach.
“This is a customer that I trust entirely. We have mutual respect and communications between us are honest and straight. I perceive them as highly professional and flexible. There are never any problems and we always try to find solutions together when we encounter any difficulties or obstacles,” he says.
“Works more as a single company”
Tobias explains how the market situation in Germany has changed, particularly during and after the 2009 financial crisis. Mocopinus delivers approximately half of its products to the domestic market, the remainder goes for export to European countries such as France, Italy and Spain. The company is therefore affected considerably when market flows and the balance between supply and demand change.
“When the financial crisis came it was really dramatic. It was difficult to make money, competition became even sharper and some markets disappeared or were greatly reduced. We carried out our reconstruction at this time which has given us stability. But there are many challenges. The pace is faster, everything becomes more short-term and this means that we must make demands on our suppliers.”
Despite this, Mocopinus views the future with confidence.
“Since we merged our brands we work more as a single company. We are all linked up with each other and can work in a very focused way. This means that we adjust better to the prevailing market situation. This will make us very competitive in the future as well.”
Text and photo: Joakim Gerhardsson