Possehl Erzkontor is now CREMER ERZKONTOR, and on its way from being a pure raw materials trader to becoming an end-to-end supplier
Since March 1, 2023 it’s been official: Possehl Erzkontor is now CREMER ERZKONTOR. Just a name change, or is there more to it? In an interview with Nils Fleig, Executive Director of CREMER ERZKONTOR, I asked what the reasons were for renaming their long-established trading company and what their plans for the future are.
(Mr. Nils Fleig, Executive Director of CREMER ERZKONTOR)
Refwin: Wow, giving your company a new name after more than 100 years is courageous. Why did you take this step?
Mr. Nils Fleig: This step is part of the Road#2024PLUS strategy and transformation we launched three years ago. With the name change, ERZKONTOR draws closer to the Hamburg family company CREMER, which acquired the shares of this Lübeck-based raw materials trader in 2014. With the renaming to CREMER ERZKONTOR the over 100 year history of Possehl Erzkontor enters a new chapter. The name change is a statement. The road we’re on takes us from being purely a raw materials trader to managing the supply of raw materials for our customers. In addition to logistics services, this includes processing and recycling these materials in our own facilities. The CREMER name stands not just for international trade and logistics, but also for the refinement of products and for an extraordinary worldwide network; it’s a perfect fit.
Refwin: What exactly does it mean when you say that you are evolving from being a “pure raw materials trader” to “managing your customers’ raw materials supply”?
Mr. Nils Fleig: The world of raw materials is facing major challenges. Raw materials have to be procured more sustainably, managed more efficiently, recovered through recycling and returned to the production cycle. Our ambition is to be part of the solution for our customers. Our Road#2024PLUS strategy, adopted in 2020, was the starting point for a transformation process focused on precisely these challenges. We know that as a trading company, we cannot change the underlying conditions that affect raw material trading – fluctuating prices and freight rates, lack of availability, new legislation, political developments, digital advancements, etc. – but we can change the resilience of our business. In addition to digitalization and operational excellence, our focus is on verticalization, diversification, and sustainability. We’ll leverage our in-depth expert know-how and our global network of companies to provide value-added services along the entire value chain. Our vision “Beyond Trading” underlines this new orientation.
Refwin: What services are you currently focusing on?
Mr. Nils Fleig: The further processing of raw and secondary materials of various minerals in our own plants and facilities is an important step for us in the direction of extended value creation. In Europe, we’re the market leader with our certified grinding plants in terms of capacity (around 180,000 tonnes) and facilities (15 grinding, crushing, screening, blending, and drying plants). In Hamm and Wesel (Germany) we can store 200,000 tonnes of products, we can crush blocks up to 1m edge length, we can dry, screen, grind, mix, and recycle scrap. We operate a laboratory for quality assurance and have invested in a fully automated bagging plant, which we put into operation early last year. In short, we’re in a position to offer customers all-round, worry-free processing service. Our size and large number of plants guarantee safety, flexibility, and speed - even for short-term requests. This year, we’re also rolling out these capabilities worldwide. We’re currently building a processing and recycling plant in the US that can sort, dry, jaw crush, impact crush, screen, and bag. The goal is to have a flexible operation that can handle small to medium sized campaigns for our customers. This is especially necessary for recycling. We want to be able to work with customers to develop, test, and perfect different remanufacturing options.
Refwin: Sustainability is part of your corporate strategy. What is meant by this?
Mr. Nils Fleig: As already mentioned, recycling and secondary raw materials are very important to us. Recycling scrap made of refractory materials is absolutely sustainable. In all our processing locations, we can and will recycle materials.
In Argentina, in addition to the usual port activities, operation of BBVs (Break Bulk Vessel) with comprehensive port unloading and storage services, plus a comprehensive portfolio of minerals and chemicals for Argentine heavy industry, since last year we’ve also offered a processing plant with a JIT (Just-in-Time) storage system and capacities for drying, crushing, pouring, bagging, palletizing, and truck transportation.
To fulfill our corporate vision of “Beyond Trading” and the sustainability laid out in our strategy, we’ve built capacity for sorting scrap and a comprehensive recycling program. This allows us to supply secondary raw materials and somewhat reduce the CO2 emissions of the raw material world.
The recyclates go back into the production of refractory bricks and masses. The remaining residual waste is used for things like building and road construction, so that full recycling is achieved.
This is an excellent example of circular economy, and hopefully many more will follow in the USA and Europe.
Refwin: Our last interview also dealt with the topic of digitalization. What is the status there? Is there any news?
Mr. Nils Fleig: Technology and digital platforms will play a greater role in our traditional business to simplify the processing of transactions and thus save time. We have these developments in mind and plan to present two solutions before the end of the year.
The first is our "Customer Dashboard", which was developed in collaboration with pektogram, our Group-owned subsidiary that focuses on digital applications. This software solution supports the communication between sales and customer before, during, and after the sales process, by making all relevant information and data available to both sides 24/7. This permanent transparency and availability free up capacity on both the customer and ERZKONTOR sides. All information on contracts already made, which must otherwise be communicated internally via many stations when customers inquire at ERZKONTOR, can be viewed directly by the customer. The tool is already being used internally and will be rolled out to interested customers in the next phase. In addition, when implementing the tool, we take into account the software solutions already in use internally, such as the ERP and CRM systems, in order to benefit as much as possible from the synergies of the programs.
The second solution - also a pektogram development - is the digital availability of our product portfolio on the company website. With this new solution we will enable our customers and potential buyers to place a complete request for quotation so that we can provide them with an offer as quickly as possible. For the implementation, our first step was to gather industry insights to better understand what customers or potential buyers want. These insights, coupled with the knowledge of our product and sales managers, flow into the programming of the CREMER ERZKONTOR solution, which, like the dashboard, is linked to the CRM system. At the moment we’re in the MVP phase here. But I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to go online before the end of the year.
Of course, we’re also carefully reviewing our internal processes with a focus on continuous further development. The main aim is to keep pace with the dynamic development of digital opportunities and to respond immediately to new trends.
Thank you very much for the interview and good luck on your further exciting way to becoming an end-to-end provider.
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