With high goals, our subsidiary Stiegelmeyer China starts bed production – literally. The new factory with 5,000 square metres of space is located on the 6th and 7th floor of a high-rise building. In the exciting days before the "Grand Opening" with guests from business and politics, we spoke with Managing Director Jochen Zhu-Schleiss.
Factories in skyscrapers are common in Chinese megacities to save space. Stiegelmeyer China operates in Foshan, a metropolis of 9.5 million, 130 km northwest of Hong Kong. The administrative office on the 30th floor of another high-rise building was already set up in autumn 2021. Since then, Mr Zhu-Schleiss and his team have worked with great energy and enthusiasm to organise production, find suppliers and set up a sales operation.
In the video call with the FORUM team, the managing director invites us on an impressive photo tour of the new production site. Three areas are located there: the innovation centre, the assembly hall and the warehouse for the dispatch of the beds.
In the representative innovation centre, 16 seats are set up for employees from the areas of product planning, engineering and development. There are also inviting seating areas for discussions and a large training room: "Here we can train our customers' nursing staff and technicians as well as our own employees," explains Mr Zhu-Schleiss.
The heart of the production facility is an assembly line over 20 metres long. The production of the care beds Libra, variant bodenfrei Plus, and Libra partner by Stiegelmeyer as well as the models Dali and Dali low-entry by Burmeier are currently being tested here. These beds are particularly well suited for the launch on the Chinese market. Mr Zhu-Schleiss explains that he chose the variant bodenfrei Plus because the laminate or plastic floors in the nursing rooms are often thoroughly cleaned with a mop and the bed's chassis is not in the way. Next year, production is to be extended to hospital beds as well.
The first deliveries are planned for October. The principle of "China for China" applies to assembly and distribution: several regional suppliers produce the required wood and metal components, and the beds made in China are sold exclusively in Asia. It is helpful that important European partners of the Stiegelmeyer Group are also represented in China and can deliver from there. For example, the location of our bed control manufacturer LINAK is only a 90-minute drive from Foshan.
To ensure that the assembly of the first beds can proceed smoothly, "back-up containers" with components from our European plants have arrived in Foshan for the coming weeks. Sales of 500 beds are planned for 2022, and this number is to increase rapidly in 2023. At the end of August, Stiegelmeyer China employed ten people, according to Mr Zhu-Schleiss, and by the end of the year this number is expected to rise to 40.
The official opening of the production facility at the beginning of September was a glamorous social event with speeches, a buffet and a spectacular dragon performance. In the light-flooded halls, the guests were able to explore our beds extensively. In China, the dragon stands for luck, kindness, wisdom and success - qualities that best describe our subsidiary in Foshan.