Never change a winning team

Automotive-sector | When Arno Höfner describes his work with Volvo Cars, he almost goes into raptures. As a Business Development Manager, he has been looking after his customer for three years now. Therefore, he spends half of his working hours away in Sweden and China – always really close to the customer.

Arno Höfner, Business Development Manager at thyssenkrupp System Engineering

Arno Höfner, Business Development Manager at thyssenkrupp System Engineering

Mr. Höfner, thyssenkrupp System Engineering has been supplying Volvo for over ten years. What are you working on at the moment?
„We are currently supplying Volvo with the production lines for the bodyshell, in conjunction with the weld technology for new generations of vehicles. Some of the projects are at the final acceptance stage; some new projects are in the design phase. Production lines for the doors, hoods, trunks, and fenders of the new S90 and V90 were commissioned and handed over to Volvo in February 2016. In addition, the assembly lines for modern four-cylinder engines came from our company in the last ten years. At the end of 2015, we were also commissioned as a supplier of press tools for the first time, with a project running into the tens of millions. We are now for the first time partners for the entire process chain.“

For the first time, we implemented the entire process chain for our customer Volvo: simultaneous engineering, press tools, bodyshell lines and weld technology.

And what is your task as Business Development Manager?
„As Business Development Managers, we are very close to our customers. We are already involved in their projects two or three years before they are market-ready. Following acquisition, I support a project over and beyond signing the contract, through to handover of the equipment. As Volvo belongs to the Chinese car company Geely since 2010, I am increasingly focused on Volvo China, with regular visits there. It is my personal challenge to also establish ourselves as a supplier to Geely. The collaboration with my Chinese colleagues is very important in this respect.“

How did you get into Business Development?
„My background is in mechanical engineering, and I started over 20 years ago in project-bid planning for the body shop. In 2002, I switched to sales. As the company grew increasingly larger and our product portfolio was considerably expanded, Business Development Management was introduced seven years ago. In this function, my customers include Volvo, Geely, and Ford.“

Mr. Höfner, what is your impression of working with the customer Volvo cars?
„Volvo Cars is a strongly technology-driven company and very open to innovation. These are also our major strengths. We continuously extend our expertise and grow with product and customer requirements. For that reason, the customer relationship is in the nature of a partnership: the customer not only permits this, but actually requires it. Volvo has set itself the target of being able to produce a new car from development through to start of production within 24 months by 2020. This sort of target is only possible with a reliable partner like thyssenkrupp. And on top of that, the Swedish company Volvo Cars has a great family feel, which I experience when I am there in Gothenburg or Olofström.“

Our strength lies in our expertise and the will to grow with product and market requirements.

In 2015, thyssenkrupp has been awarded the title Volvo Cars Quality Excellence supplier once again – great recognition for successful project work. What does this award mean for you personally?
„With this award, the performance of an entire team is acknowledged. This makes me feel proud, of course. We get an indication that we made the right decisions – we selected good employees, outstanding technical solutions, and the right subcontractors. Every team member has delivered above-average performance in order to achieve the project targets – both in terms of quality and in adherence to deadlines and cost targets.“

One last question: what car do you drive?
„I am delighted to say that I will get the first Volvo XC60 as my company car in the spring. My own car is an open-top model, and unfortunately the Volvo fleet does not include one of those at the moment (he laughs).“

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