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Ebner Shows Austrian Tenacity: Diversify, Maintain Quality and Survive

March 9, 2010

Austrian Trade Commissioner in Chicago Franz Roessler gets first hand view of how an Austrian metals firm pulled through a tough 2009.   

“After a record-setting year, the global economic crisis has finally caught up with us, expressing itself in significantly lower orders. What can we do about it?” Perhaps all firms in the metals sector, which was down in some accounts by two-thirds in 2009, have asked this question posed by Mr. Robert Ebner, CEO of Ebner Industrieofenbau of Leonding, Austria. Few, however, have the culture, expertise and insight to define the answers to expand their focus as Ebner.

Mantra of Quality and Green Before it Was Fashionable
Ebner, which has a long tradition in the industrial furnace market for heat-treating metals, starting building energy efficiency into its systems over 30 years ago. A focus on quality, and thinking from the customer's best long-term interest, has won customer loyalty. The global giant ArcelorMittal, for example, recently contracted Ebner to upgrade a system they delivered over 40 years ago to meet modern decarburizing requirements.

Focus on Growth in New Markets
Ebner, through its wide and diverse customer base gained from full production facilities in Europe, North America and Asia, has found opportunities in new markets, particularly alternative energy. With metal working projects in wind and solar energy, Ebner is using its expertise in industrial furnaces to respond to a changing economy. In addition, Ebner has also obtained required certifications to expand into the pressure boiler market.

Surviving Austrian Style
Trade Commissioner in Chicago Franz Roessler was pleased to visit Ebner’s US subsidiary Ebner Furnaces Inc. in March, meeting with Mr. Jim O’Brien, VP of Operations and Mr. Ralph G. Myers, VP of Finance. The company, which has owned its facilities near Cleveland, Ohio for approximately 20 years, weathered the economic storm of 2009 in Austrian style: maintaining orders and employees, despite lower numbers. As the steel sector and capital goods market come out of recession, Ebner has kept sufficient expertise and capacity to ramp up its production. According to Trade Commissioner Roessler, “Ebner Furnaces is an excellent example of how Austrian subsidiaries survive and prosper in the US: the company is lean, filled with expertise across its ranks, and willing to redefine itself within its know-how by pursuing new opportunities and customers.”