Specialists in Specialties - Wacker Chemie AG

Specialists in Specialties

DRAWIN, the Group's own sales subsidiary for silicone products, has now been repositioned after 25 years in business. It will focus on its specialist distributor function for the Engineering Silicones (S-E) business unit and on custom packaging.

Whenever Horst Höhl, managing director of DRAWIN, talks to colleagues from the parent company, he is occasionally confronted with three outdated misconceptions that he quietly corrects. The first is that DRAWIN only operates in Germany. The second is that it only handles small containers. The third is that it more or less sells just mold-making products.

Actually, the sales company ships silicone products to more than 100 countries around the world, with Germany now accounting for less than half of DRAWIN sales. Although it tends to stock smaller container sizes of 25 to 30 liters, its warehouse does hold much larger containers for specialist distributor activities. On request, DRAWIN will additionally custom fill containers of various sizes, such as small tubes and cartridges with silicone rubber, and of various types, such as side-seal pouches and foil packs, which are not available in that form at Wacker Chemie AG. And in terms of the focus on mold-making products: these elastomers are used for prototyping, industrial mass production and reproducing handicrafts, actually do make up a sizable portion of sales. However, DRAWIN sells a wide range of silicone products, including silicone fluid emulsions for the cosmetics sector and specialty rubbers for the electrical/electronics, automotive and machine-making sectors.

A warehouse employee at DRAWIN readies various small containers for an order.

High Flexibility

“Extreme flexibility is one factor in our success,” stresses Höhl. “Plus the fact that we regularly realigned ourselves with market needs over the years.” Even after the record year in 2011, when it again posted double-digit sales growth, the company did not rest on its laurels, but rather realigned itself again. In the future, DRAWIN will focus even more on specialist distributors, especially for the Engineering Silicones business unit and custom packaging for all silicones. Within the German chemical industry, and perhaps beyond, this internal specialist distributor function is a unique, but viable construct.

DRAWIN has always been an integral part of the logistics and distribution concepts of WACKER SILICONES. In the late 1990s, when the distribution strategies were reconceived and implemented, it was clear that DRAWIN played a key role with regard to certain container sizes. In particular, so-called DRAWIN items were defined that can only be procured through DRAWIN. “By defining the DRAWIN items and having them completely transferred to DRAWIN, a substantial reduction in complexity was especially achieved for WACKER SILICONES,” explains Dr. Christian Hartel, head of WACKER SILICONES. The managing director describes the division of duties between it and the parent company in a nutshell: “WACKER executes the volume business in silicone rubber, while we look after the very complicated low-volume business segment.”

DRAWIN stocks around 1,000 articles in its warehouse in Hohenbrunn-Riemerling. As a specialist distributor for the Engineering Silicones unit, it enjoys comprehensive responsibility for sales and, unlike other external dealers, is also permitted to fill articles under the DRAWIN and WACKER labels. In the case of service articles, for example, it can happen that a given silicone compounder places bulk orders for elastomers with WACKER but obtains his pigment pastes from DRAWIN because he requires less than 20 kilograms.

“A success, as it is still going strong after a quarter century.”

Horst Höhl DRAWIN Vertriebs-GmbH's managing director

“Our sales personnel are also on the look-out for potential projects which have traditionally not required silicone, but which, if they prove successful, could land customers for the Group,” says Höhl about a further DRAWIN task within WACKER SILICONES' sales strategy. DRAWIN operates in the depths of the potential market, he adds, where everything is unclear.

Handling of Silicone Samples

And it evidently does so with great success, as it is still going strong after a quarter century. When the company was registered and thus founded on May 25, 1987, it managed the small containers business for WACKER SLICONES, initially handling packages of up to five kilograms. In its first full financial year in 1988, the 15 employees at the time generated sales of just over 10 million German marks. By year end, they had added silicone sample handling to their list. Business flourished in the following years, as DRAWIN took on responsibility for sales to European subsidiaries and executed some custom filling orders, such as RTV-1 products into tubes and cartridges, as well as performing custom filling for major customers.

Two-Shift Operations

In recent years, the focus for logistics has been on building up the online shop and e-commerce activities, which today already contribute over 20 percent of sales. By 2010, strong business growth had necessitated the introduction of two-shift operations in warehouse logistics. DRAWIN is well positioned via all these measures, the recent restructuring and its highly-qualified staff's decades of expertise, as Horst Höhl states: “We will continue to play an important role in the sales strategy for silicones in the future, too.”