A look behind-the-scenes at one of Germany’s leading office machine manufacturers.
Exciting times lie ahead for HSM, with a new senior management line-up and exciting new additions to their impressive product range. Here recently appointed managing director Irene Dengler and Stefan Schraff, head of marketing, describe the company’s vision for the future… and the story behind its new Digital Shredder.
OPI: Can you explain to OPI readers the new senior management structure at HSM? We understand there were some recent changes.
Irene Dengler: Hermann Schwelling, the sole managing director and founder of HSM, appointed Dietmar, my husband, and me as managing directors in late 2007. We will be responsible for the whole company now alongside him. My husband Dietmar is responsible for Marketing and Sales. Myself, I have been and still will be responsible for the Corporate Companies and the growth of our company in the key markets. Hermann Schwelling will concentrate on the more technical fields of engineering and production.
OPI: What are the targets of HSM for 2008?
ID: HSM shall utilise its growth potentials and so reach the targets that we imposed ourselves. We want to be among the global top companies within our business fields. The challenges for all HSM staff and us are tremendous and we are looking forward to overcome these challenges. Major targets are the extension of our strategy into the world markets and the know-how transfer to our employees and our customers.
OPI: What plans have you to extend into the global markets?
ID: In order to take into account the rapidly increasing market in East Europe, HSM founded a subsidiary in Poland with its headquarters in Warsaw in 2007. The new HSM Polska (Poland) subsidiary has developed very positively during the last months.
Right now we are preparing to extend our own organisation with subsidiaries in France and Spain. It is our general strategy to develop the key markets up to a point where we can work in these markets with HSM owned organisations. This strategy will be extended to further markets in the future. Beside this organic growth we are permanently considering and evaluating potential acquisitions. We are not targeting specific candidates, but if there is a chance to extend our portfolio in the field of our core competences – either office or environmental technology – we will not hesitate.
OPI: How are the existing subsidiaries performing?
ID: HSM UK made very good progress and the year 2007 was very successful. The trend in the UK is clearly focused on the office technology and professional machines with an increasing demand for cross-cut shredders with high security levels. HSM in the UK is well recognised and has an outstanding reputation as a manufacturer of high standard products. Another trend in the office technology sector shows that the features of the SECURIO range fit perfectly into the market’s needs. Energy saving machines, an outstanding innovative design and a low noise level made the SECURIO range especially in the UK very successful. The environmental business in the UK has also been very successful for HSM too, as sales of baling presses increased substantially. A recently released new legislation rule for waste handling and recycling gives HSM even better opportunities for the future. So we see a very positive development in the UK for the next few years.
Following the realignment of the HSM of America strategy at the beginning of the year, comprehensive re-structuring was introduced to optimise and develop the company. This was aimed at market orientation and positioning, as well as the internal organisation. The global HSM brand strategy for the influential US market is now already in place and the sales strategies for individual marketing channels have been redefined. The team has been strengthened with the aim of expanding the company’s position as the leading German manufacturer of document shredders in the USA.
OPI: What are the key items of the restructuring process in the US?
ID: We appointed two more members of the Management Board to the chief executive committee as of October 1st, 2007. In his position as VP of sales and marketing, Bob Ouellette is responsible for sales and marketing as well as the day-to-day business activities of the company. Matthias Wochner takes over as head of investment management at HSM GmbH + Co. KG, which organises strategic projects and all matters regarding restructuring, optimisation and development within the company. Based on clearly defined figures and benchmarks, all the individual departments at HSM of America have been systematically aligned for profitable growth. Already in 2007 we have been very satisfied with the turnover and growth of HSM of America and for 2008 we are expecting a substantial increase of turnover and market shares.
OPI: Can you tell us something about the new products you are planning to launch at this year’s Paperworld?
Stefan Schraff: We presented our new shredder program SECURIO at Paperworld 2007 and are very satisfied with the success that we had in the past year with this new product line. All of our marketing targets have been reached. We gained listings in all of the major catalogues or stock listings of our mail order customers, dealers and buying groups. The SECURIO program will be extended and now during Paperworld in Frankfurt we will be presenting the latest model, the SECURIO B22. The B22 is the smallest of the office shredders but fits perfectly fitting into the new product line.
OPI: Can you tell us some of the key factors for the success of the SECURIO line?
SS: We have four major aspects which make the SECURIO line so successful. On the one side, we developed the machines according to the key demands of our customers. The most important features are: The capacity, the SECURIOs with their high cutting capacities have a distinguished price-to-performance ratio; The outstanding design – we have received remarkably positive feedbacks for the design of the machines; The noise level of the machines compared to their capacities is low and pleasant; The Energy Management and Control System (EMCS) – a highly effective control system that reduces energy consumption by up to 70 percent and includes some very user-friendly handling opportunities, such as short run mode or permanent run mode.
OPI: How did you recognise these key features?
SS: We initiated a large market survey with a professional and reputable institute. Through this survey we asked potential users in all market segments about their requirements for shredder features. The survey clearly identified four features, which are the most important ones for users. So we concentrated on these, made the product reliable, user friendly silent and well designed and got rid of all the gimmicks that you can find in some of the Chinese-made models.
OPI: You like to emphasise the fact your machines are made in Germany?
ID: Yes, the SECURIOs and all of the HSM branded shredders, except the low-end shredstar line, are made in Germany and manufactured in our own works in Salem and Frickingen. We stick to our strategy and our philosophy that the high-quality level that we promise our customers can only be produced here in Germany. We have all the necessary key technologies, the specialists to work on it and the people who live our philosophy and our identifiable products. You can find this engagement in every single product that has been produced in our works.
OPI: What marketing tools do you employ?
SS: In addition to the actual product, new technology and media are also used for the marketing campaign for the market launch of a new machine generation. The main element of the entire campaign is the SECURIO Internet platform, to which all classic and electronic media refer. The integrated multimedia elements combine product and entertainment levels. At the product level, for example, there are 3D animations for all-important functions, which can be a very important source of information for dealers. In particular the integration of the entertainment functions is aimed at the customer in order to generate the contacts and enquiries required by specialist dealers. Special, very striking elements are the "love letter generator", the amusing "SECURIO video commercials" – that one can even create oneself – or the "sound check" that can be used to compare the sound design of the SECURIOs to those of products of the competition. Viral marketing – ie. word-of-mouth advertising over the internet – is the basic idea behind the overall marketing package. In this way, HSM will soon familiarise the customer with the new product brand and create an appropriate demand.
The online activities are also supported by classic advertising. Premium display packages, billboard advertising in selected cities and a number of new CD-ROMs with trailers and adverts, brochures, giveaways and mailings – designed to correspond with the entire SECURIO presence – are available to dealers for launching the products. With the new and very appealing products and the entire very special marketing package, HSM has placed SECURIO as a premium product line on the market.
OPI: Which further novelties do you have in your product program?
ID: In November 2007 we launched our brand new Digital Shredder in over 100 countries. The Digital Shredder is a portable multi-purpose IT device for complete deletion of all data stored on a hard disc. Data stored on the disc is destroyed in such a manner that ensures that retrieving this data is not possible. "Absolutely Secure", even when using forensic methods.
OPI: Why did you incorporate this product in your programme?
ID: It is a strategic extension of our core competence to deliver equipment for data security in the office. Like a ‘normal’ paper shredder the Digital Shredder prevents data misuse and identity fraud. Furthermore, if you compare the data contained on a hard disk and on paper you can clearly see how much more information could be confidentially stored on a hard disk. And the theft for re-use of such data could be fatal for a company.
Virtually all businesses and public institutions use computers these days and their hard discs often contain highly confidential information, like personal data, research data, development data and business strategies, etc. The dangers of careless handling of such data, are the same as those of data stored in paper form that are not destroyed with a paper shredder. Here is an example: only 33 percent of 400 used hard disks bought on eBay were properly deleted, using these it was possible to restore some highly sensitive, classified information, such as web access data for the US Air Force.
We see a great potential in this new product and substantial synergy opportunities between the classical HSM shredders and the new Digital Shredder.
OPI: Are there alternative methods to delete hard disks?
SS: To date there are three methods for deleting hard discs: Overwriting the data with special software, physically destroying the hard disk or demagnetising the device. However, not one of the methods used is able to guarantee that sensitive data is entirely deleted.
For example, once the software has overwritten the data, forensic experts are often able to restore data which still remains on the hard disk. There are also disadvantages to physically destroying it, this is normally done by an outside company, a loss of control which exceeds acceptable risk levels of those responsible for security. Demagnetising involves special precautions against magnetic radiation and the process must be carried out in an isolated environment. Neither demagnetising nor physically destroying the hard disk makes it possible to use the data storage media again. None of the methods provides automatic logging to reassure you that the deleting process has been successfully carried out.
OPI: Please describe briefly the functionality of the Digital Shredder.
SS: The Digital Shredder, a mobile, multi-purpose IT device, is the most secure and convenient solution for completely wiping hard disks clean. To delete the data, an integrated command on the data medium called Secure Erase is used. Up to three hard discs can be deleted at once. ATA/IDE and SATA hard drives are supported (2.5 inch and 3.5 inch). After wiping, you have the option to reformat the disc for further use. The device is very user-friendly and takes up little space as it requires almost no peripherals. There is also touch screen menu navigation.