Interview with Benjamin Mayer, Managing Director of Mayer & Cie.
By: Kohan Textile Journal / Thanks to Claudia Bitzer – PR-Beraterin
Benjamin Mayer is Managing Director of Mayer & Cie. Together with his cousin Marcus Mayer and his brother Sebastian Mayer, he runs the family-owned business founded in 1905 in the fourth generation. The three of them form the company’s management board.
1、Introduce Mayer & Cie. company, your products, history and success story.
Mayer & Cie. is a manufacturer of circular knitting machines. On these machines, our clients can knit the entire range of modern textiles, ranging from home textiles, sportswear, nightwear and swimwear, seat covers, underwear as well as technical textiles.
Furthermore, we try to anticipate the requirements of our clients and cater for new trends in the industry from an early stage. This makes us regularly develop new approaches, which has made us a leader in innovations and in the market.
Apart from circular knitting machines, Mayer & Cie. manufactures braiding machines that produce sheathings for high-pressure hoses. This line of business used to be the domain of our sister company in the U.S., Mayer Industries until in January 2019, we moved production of braiding machines to our headquarters in Albstadt, Germany.
2、Can you tell us how is the textile industry situation in your region now?
Luckily, in Germany business weren’t forced to shut down even during the lockdown period. Most companies, not only textile companies, created home office solutions for their employees. Production could continue, too, although we all had to observe strict regulations.
We at Mayer & Cie. introduced two daily shifts with a half-hour break in between so that the teams did not meet. For our administration and sales team, we only had one-half of the staff in the office while the other worked from home.
So since we were able to keep up production, companies in our region were not as badly affected as it was the case in other European countries with yet stricter regulations. However, due to closed retail stores almost worldwide the demand for textile products has come to a standstill. Textile companies feel the effects.
Companies with full range production or their own sewing works started producing masks. However, this seems more a short-term remedy. For us as a textile machine producer, demand in masks has had no effect worth mentioning.
3、How has the pandemic had an impact on the textile industry and your business?
During the first two months of 2020, we saw an increase in orders and signs of a general revival in the textile machinery market. The previous year, 2019, had been a challenging one for our industry, so we perceived this upturn very positively. During March, we still saw considerable order numbers from selected markets despite the fact that corona already was a cover page topic.
This was mostly thanks to fashion brands looking for shorter supply chains. Then, when lockdown measures came into place all over Europe, investments came to a complete standstill. For the past weeks, we have now seen feeble signs of recovery – or let’s say at least there seems to be a more positive outlook again.
4、Is there any policy issued by local government or associations that may help the industry recover?
There are no governmental programs specifically targeted at the textile industry. Just like in many other countries, the German government has provided different types of economic support open to all industries. Among the various programmes, there is short-time work. Many companies make use of this option; so do we for some of our teams. That helps companies to reduce costs but keep their trained staff, remain flexible and thus be able to resume their production when order intakes rise again.
5、What have the industrial manufacturers done in streamlining their business during this period of time?
Since we couldn’t – and still cannot – travel and see our clients in person, our sales team and sales reps worldwide had to resolve to digital solutions. We stayed in touch doing video conferences, within our teams and with our customers. That worked quite well, and it’s good to see how quickly we can all adopt. I think most companies worked along similar lines.
Since travel restrictions apply to our service team, too, we accelerated and enforced our digital activities. We have already put much effort in this field during the past years because we are convinced this will be one of our unique selling points in the near future.
The COVID crisis has only accelerated this trend. Anyway, this is what we have built on. In terms of service, we have strengthened our remote possibilities to be able to guide our customers’ technicians via video call or hololens. This is much faster and cheaper than if we have technician travel several hundred miles; plus we enable our customers to undertake recurring service and maintenance jobs themselves.
Another digital project we have pursued is building up our webshop for spare parts. This will simplify the order process for our customers and make them independent of office hours and language barriers.
6、How is your prediction for the post-COVID-19 period of the textile industry? any barriers? what is your strategy for this period?
In these difficult times, we are here for our customers. We support them as best as we can; with our knowledge, our expertise in the market and, of course, our machines. They are reliable, efficient, long-term investments fulfilling state-of-the-art sustainability standards.
Efficiency and sustainability will remain key factors in the post COVID period. Other than that, we’ve used the time to work on, as mentioned above, gearing up our digital services that will gain even more importance.
7、For global textile industry, how do you think is the best way to overcome the industrial crisis and better cooperate in this scenario?
The textile industry is very sensitive to cyclical fluctuations. There always have and always will be dry spells. So flexibility is the prerequisite in our industry. You have to be able to weather this crisis – and those to come in the future – but be prepared when demand picks up again. And usually, this happens from one day to the other.
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