Across the pond

Across the pond

It has been three years since the American company ACS International became part of the Dorfner family. A lot has happened since then. The view across the pond reflects this.

Everything just fit together when Dorfner put out feelers in 2017 to break into the huge US market. We were looking for a potential sales office with the perspective option of building up production capacities. We found the perfect addition to the Dorfner Group.

Entrepreneurship

Jim Novak, founder and main shareholder of ACS International, was looking for a buyer for his company so he could take his well-deserved retirement. His company, which mainly produced organic fillers based on UP granules (unsaturated polyester granules) for bathrooms and kitchens, had to be left in good hands – thiswas important to Mr. Novak. So the offer from the Upper Palatinate family company, Dorfner, came in handy. The strategic thinking, market know-how and the value orientation of the two family businesses were a perfect match.

Competencies that go together perfectly

For Dorfner, ACS International, with its suitable portfolio and good network, wasan ideal acquisition candidate in the US market. The committed, customer-oriented team, the core of which still works for ACS today, was literally the icing on the cake. ACS International offered Dorfner enormous potential for the further development of the innovativeComposites division. At the same time, the path was cleared for the introduction of mineral Dorfner solutions in the USA.

Learn from one another, benefit from one another

We here, those over there? Fears that “the Germans” would turn ACS upside down and change everything were quickly dispelled. It was clear to all decision-makers: Business is about people! Consequently, special attention was paid to cultural characteristics on both sides and to preserving the ACS team spirit.

Evolution

Nevertheless, some new measures were introduced: Changed processes, an expanded product portfolio and new growth potential were imported from Germany. As a result, the company was able to develop further. In 2017, the ACS product portfolio consisted almost exclusively of filler mixtures for composite. Customers were mainly to be found in the sanitary and kitchen areas. These customers manufactured, for example, worktops and cover plates as well as washstands, cladding, shower trays, bathtubs and washbasins. With the introduction product competence from Hirschau, new business fields were expanded in America – for example in the areas of floors and walls.

Challenges

Of course, not everything goes smoothly with acquisition and market entry. Innovations from Germany, for example, have presented customers in the USA with unknown challenges. Suddenly, new work steps were necessary and special processing guidelines had to be observed. The ACS portfolio also needed work in order to become more profitable. ACS was too dependent on the sale of simple fillers, the sale of which depended on strongly fluctuating freight costs.

ACS today

ACS has taken great strides so far: Kay Rehberg, who has taken over the management in the USA, is gradually aligning ACS in a market-oriented manner and utilizing the synergies from the German and American product ranges

The new ACS product portfolio reflects US market trends and growth opportunities can be seized – especially in the floor area, where customers are delighted with Durastone Flooring (comparable to Granucol UP). In the medium term, a similar standard can be achieved here as in the traditional ACS Polystone business area.

The market structure is also changing: Self-leveling floor systems are gaining market share. The quartz look and new designs – for example the “weathered look” – have been well-received. Initial successes have been achieved with dark colors in the solid surface area for bathrooms. In fact, epoxy and PMMA flooring systems are prominent innovations in the US that are positively changing the market and helping customers to offer better products. And of course the German side also benefits from the products from Tucson. For example, Dorfner now also has polyester color granulates for composite materials and platinum flakes for the pool industry in its range. An area in which ACS has been doing an outstanding job for a long time.


Shiny wet!

In the United States, a pool is often the centerpiece of a garden. ACS supplies dyes refined with platinum flakes to Latham, the world’s largest manufacturer of prefabricated pools. The flakes create a unique, sun-dependent glitter effect on the surfaces of the American company’s GRP pools.

Connectedness!

ACS International was founded by Jim Novak in 1990 and managed by him and his son Greg until 2017. Greg Novak still works with ACS today and supports the management with his special expertise if necessary.

How ACS works

With ten people, the majority of the workforce works in production and ensures short delivery times of less than five days and constant quality. Three sales employees ensure professional customer service and market development. Three people in the laboratory with application technology, and one person each in internal sales, purchasing and controlling, round off the team.

Outlook

The combination of German engineering expertise and American ambition under the motto “Time is money” ensures ACS a strong position in the USA. Thanks to the acquired Dorfner competencies, the subsidiary now has a unique position with potential, because it can offer the best of both worlds: Organic solutions from our own production as well as mineral products that are currently still from Dorfner production. Still! The next steps in the US market are already being planned.

Kay Rehberg