Bob Misch is one of M&W’s three original owners. Now, he is Key Account Manager for the transmission business in North America at ElringKlinger in the United States. Even as a schoolboy, he helped out in the business set up by his grandfather. “We all started working at an early age, cleaning bathrooms, doing clerical work and learning what it meant to have your own business. As we grew older, the responsibilities increased into production, tooling and engineering as well as the demands from our father. This was critical to our success in later years.” In the end, it was family reasons that led to the decision taken by Bob and his brothers to sell the company. “With ElringKlinger, we sensed right from the start that they would deal with us honestly, and that turned out to be the case – both in our negotiations on selling the business and right up to the present.” It’s not always that you will find the former owner of a family business being so positive after a sale, especially with so many changes being made – for example the switch to a new accounting system and computer programs.
The biggest change still lies ahead, however. Over the course of 2016, the company’s two production sites in Warren and Roseville will come together at a brand new factory just a few miles away. Bob Misch hopes that all 100 or so of the company’s workforce will stay on. The aim is to relocate without disrupting production, a major challenge for both the management team and the employees. Nevertheless, it will be worth the effort, promises Drews: “The new plant in Detroit-Southfield will be one of the most modern ElringKlinger facilities worldwide.” At the end of 2016, besides fiber-coated control plates, it will start manufacturing components based on another technology. In the future, ElringKlinger’s US operation will also make aluminum control plates fitted with an extremely thin elastomer seal-contact image using a silk screen printing method. These plates can withstand much greater oil pressures of up to 70 bar. They are already used, for example, in the eight- and nine-speed torque converter systems made by a leading producer of automatic transmissions. ElringKlinger has been a preferred supplier to this company for many years.
Together, Drews and Misch also have their sights set on the Chinese market. ElringKlinger already makes control plates for dual-clutch transmission systems in China. These are equipped with elastomer-coated metal gaskets because of the high pressure involved (up to 90 bar). However, there is growing demand for fiber-coated plates in China – especially from the Chinese factories operated by the American car manufacturers. The aim is to reproduce this US technology at ElringKlinger’s plant in Changchun by the end of 2016. “That kind of growth rate is only possible because the integration process has been so smooth – thanks to the company’s former owners,” concludes Drews. And what is the key to this success? “Trust,” reply Drews and Misch in unison.