H. G. Weber grows in global market
By Eric Mathes
Eric Mathes photo
Being located in a small rural community like Kiel hasn’t stopped H. G. Weber from growing as a major player in the global marketplace. Machines built in their facility produce bags for many recognizable, household names including Purina pet foods, McDonald’s, Pedigree, Mission tortilla chips, and Pillsbury.

In 1936, during the economic recovery following the Great Depression, a German immigrant name Herman Gustave Weber moved the headquarters of his manufacturing company from Sheboygan Falls to Kiel.

Weber was an experienced design engineer who, after coming to the United States in 1899, saw opportunity to better meet the needs of the packaging and printing industry.

He started with a goal of making a better bag making machine and H. G. Weber & Co. Inc. was born.

Fast forward to 2014 and the company still sits on the foundation that Weber lay, building more productive and cost efficient equipment while maintaining a reputation for product excellence and customer satisfaction.

Today, the Weber company continues to develop and adapt to the changes in the global marketplace.

Turnover remains low

If there is a company that is successful in retaining employees, it’s H. G. Weber.

The company currently employs 70 people at its Kiel location and boasts an impressively low turnover rate.

“The average length of employment with our company is 15 years,” said Jane Halverson, director of human resources. “We are very proud of that. If there is an opening at our company, it typically means that someone is retiring.

The reason for low turnover is not by accident, but a cause of the business model.

“We work hard to empower our employees so that each individual plays a key role in the organization,” Halverson said. “Every person here impacts the success of our company, and because of that, the staff takes a lot of pride in their work.”

French sister company, Holweg

In 2007, H. G. Weber was purchased by a French investment group who also bought a French bag machine company named Holweg, creating the joint Holweg/ Weber brand.

Holweg specializes in the manufacturing of multi-application flat and gusset bags.

Brian Niemuth, director of sales, marketing, and customer service, explained the advantages of the acquisition.

“The companies are able to bring their specialties in the industry together which allows us to better serve our markets,” Niemuth said.

The two companies now work together to compliment each others’ product lines which has created new opportunities.

“Joining with a similar manufacturer has been advantageous in many ways,” Niemuth said. “It opens our sales staff to a knew realm of products that the company can access and service.”

The acquisition has helped both companies grow within the global marketplace.

“We have divided up the globe to access markets that play to our strengths,” Niemuth said.

This structure lowers competition in some markets and allows the companies to focus on production and service work more effectively.

Through horizontal integration, the two can collaborate along the design process which enables them to build more efficient products.

Niemuth said, “Through the synergy, we have seen a steady increase in sales of printing presses, especially over the last four to five years. As we continue to grow, we are able to make better products and offer an even higher level of customer service.”

Over the last five years, the H. G. Weber has experienced a 20 percent growth in business across the board.

Customer service is driving force

Setting a standard for exceptional customer service has long been the driving force in making the Weber company a global leader in the industry.

When entering into new markets around the world, cultural barriers create bumps in the road for businesses.

“When working on a global scale, the language barrier can create a lot of problems when working with new businesses,” Niemuth said. “Sometimes you’re working with someone and you believe you’re both on the same page. Then you realize you’re both talking

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