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Business transformation of technology group Heraeus Kulzer

Case Study


Heraeus Kulzer was about to undertake a profound transformation program. The key points were streamlining and redesigning sales activities, with the objective of improving efficiency and reducing costs over the long term. Goals included relocating a large proportion of production from Germany to Eastern Europe, outsourcing US production and outsourcing logistics to a service provider. In addition to the new organizational structure and the pending process optimizations, further savings potential needed to be realized as well.


Atreus succeeded in implementing the transformation concept quickly and vigorously. The planned savings were realized and relocation of production planned down to the last detail. Thanks to the solution-based approach Atreus took, we were able to handle the complexity of the project and managed to keep all employees pulling in the same direction. 

Interview with Dr. Martin Haase, CEO of Heraeus Kulzer

What competencies did Atreus need to bring to the table for this highly complex project?

In a nutshell, the ability to get it done. More than anything, the Atreus expert had to understand the challenges that production relocation brings with it. He also had to have experience of working in demanding restructuring projects to be able to cope with the complexity. 

What were the main issues that the program dealt with?

The transformation program was structured into six work streams. As project manager, the Atreus expert led all six projects and worked with the heads of each work stream to ensure that objectives were accomplished within the planned timeframe. The project plan that he drafted for the production relocations alone encompassed 200 sub-processes. 

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What special challenges awaited Atreus?

The deadline. Production had to start at full capacity at the new venue on 1 January of the next year. That date was the timeframe for all preliminary work – and also limited the time available for planning it all. The Atreus manager and his team were at full throttle for half a year to get the project on the right track. 

The six work streams of the transformation at Heraeus Kulzer:

  • Sales & marketing and R&D
  • Manufacturing & logistics
  • Administration
  • Digital prosthetic
  • Periodontics
  • Reorganisation & HR

"Atreus planned each step of the process to ensure that they all dovetailed perfectly within a very precise time plan. Meeting those deadlines was decisive for the success of the project as a whole."

Dr. Martin Haase

Dr. Martin Haase has been the CEO of Heraeus Kulzer since 2007. Prior to that, he held various management positions at Siemens AG and was also Managing Director of Leica Microsystems CMS GmbH.

Dr. Martin Haase has been the CEO of Heraeus Kulzer since 2007. Prior to that, he held various management positions at Siemens AG and was also Managing Director of Leica Microsystems CMS GmbH.

"The Atreus manager’s attitude was: 'Tell me where the problem lies and we’ll solve it!' And he did."

How did the relocation of production to Romania go?

When Atreus began, we didn’t have a concrete plan or even any contracts for the future factory site. These decisions all still needed to be made, specifications compiled and negotiations conducted with service providers. The same applied for the actual move. Dismantling the machines in Dormagen and Wehrheim needed to be organized, then came transport to Romania, assembly at the new plant, technical testing and approval, etc.

That sounds complicated!

It was. On top of that, a recruiting company had to be selected to hire and train our new Romanian employees. Meanwhile, the relocation inevitably led to production downtime and all products that are to be manufactured at the new venue will have to be re-registered in all sales markets, which can take years.

How were you able to ensure that there was no loss of production?

We needed a lot of pre-production to secure sales for the period. We had to find the capacities for this – and that meant people too – in a situation where our staff all knew that their workplace was going to be shut down. The closures themselves also had to be precisely prepared, both with regard to labor law and future use of facility when we were gone. The outsourcing projects posed similar problems as well. All these steps needed to be scheduled so that they dovetailed perfectly.

Heraeus Kulzer GmbH, registered in Hanau, offers dentists and dental technicians an extensive product range in the fields of dental materials and digital services.

Atreus is the leading interim management provider in Germany and one of the largest in its field in Europe. We solve difficult operational management and transformation problems quickly and reliably. Contact us and find out how we can help you master your situation with management expertise that is available at short notice and that is the perfect fit for you.

Atreus is a co-founder of Globalise – the market’s leading and largest provider of international interim management. Accelerating change and delivering success. Worldwide. Structured as a global group of leading interim management firms, Globalise has the reach to support you in solving your company’s most important issues around the world.

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