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Vald. Birn lead the way in foundry technology
Most European foundries only exists in history books but being among the best in class has kept the Danish company in profitable business
When a young German molder from Mecklenburg immigrated to Denmark in 1846 little did he know that his name would become a significant part of Danish industrial history and present. But fifty years later his son, Heinrich Peter Christian Birn, founded what is today one of Northern Europe’s largest foundries supplying customers all over the world. Commercial Director Peter Frost Jepsen elaborates:
- During its first many years, the foundry, situated in the city center, mainly produced cookers, stoves and cake crushers but in addition, the foundry also supplied castings to F. L. Hansen’s machinery that was situated just opposite the foundry. Perhaps Birn was a better businessman than Hansen no one can tell but the founders son now CEO, Valdemar Birn, acquired the machinery in 1932 and gave the merged company the name Vald. Birn.
Today the company employs almost 900 people around the world and everybody who is passing by the vast industrial facility outside Holstebro in Northwestern Jutland gets impressed at the sight of six acres of buildings under roof.
In 1968 the Danish Air Force acquired 46 Draken fighter jets in Sweden and that military buildup opened the door for Vald. Birn to enter the defense market. The sale resulted in an offset obligation for the engine supplier Volvo and in the early eighties the Swedes started fulfilling that with parts bought at Vald. Birn. Volvo is still a large customer of the foundry and has since been joined by some of Europe’s leading defense contractors, according to the Commercial Director:
- Vald. Birn holds a strong footprint in the European defense market. We supply parts for armored vehicles, artillery and airborne systems and like most other defense companies it’s a business area with large fluctuations in orders. That is one of the reasons that Vald. Birn is working hard to grow the defense business unit; we are seeking more stable sales numbers.
In 2015 Vald. Birn sat goals for the next five years but those were met in only three, hence new goals are being set and they are based on three pillars: - We want to increase the value of our products, take upon us a larger part in our customers R&D and constantly reduce weight and costs in everything we manufacture, Mr. Jepsen says.
- 850 employees, 550 in Holstebro
- 150 mill. USD in revenue
- 95 pct. Export share, Germany and Sweden are largest markets
- 5 Disamatic production lines
- 45.000 tonnes/year capacity