Heinrich Eufinger’s great grandfather literally started with a bag of cement and a wooden mold. As the fourth generation owner and Managing Director of paving stone supplier HEUS-Betonwerke, Eufinger oversees large manufacturing and distribution operations in four central German locations.
The paving stone business consists of several different segments. The market for HEUS’ decorative stones aimed at the high-end residential and office market is less competitive with relatively high yields. Its largest volume however, is delivered for the construction of public roads, paths and squares in a very competitive market. With the product value equal to the cost of transport, the market is highly local with diminishing profits by the kilometre. HEUS sees its core market in a 100-kilometre radius from the manufacturing and distribution centres.
The HEUS centre in Delkenheim is ideally located to serve the state of Hessen with its major cities Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and its capital Mainz. With the combined population of ten million and a growing economy, there are plenty of infrastructure and construction projects under way.
The elder Eufinger started manufacturing paving stones back in 1949 and the business really took off in the infrastructure boom of the 1970s. HEUS was at the time one of few companies that could supply the durable basalt stones needed between tramway rails in cities.
“Today, 180 employees work in a variety of companies,” says Eufinger. “Over the years, we’ve managed to cover the requirements of the entire value-added chain in the concrete paving stones manufacturing process: from the excavation of the raw material in the gravel pit, its transportation to the manufacturing plants, the manufacturing of the stones themselves to the transportation of the products to the final customer.”
With cut-throat competition, HEUS’ Scania 3-axle rigid trucks and trailers are equipped with load securing devices of the company’s own construction. Using conventional ratchet straps would take far too long and instead HEUS uses a system of fixed steel columns to stabilise loads. Loading is rationalised by using heavy-duty forklifts that with four forks that can at once lift pallets weighing 1.2–2.2 tonnes. “We drive short distances and loading and unloading times must be short and available at any time during our single-shift operation,” says Eufinger.
Ownership ensures flexibility
HEUS owns its truck fleet to ensure flexibility. “That is extremely important and owning our fleet of vehicles gives us the necessary flexibility to survive in the market.”
He praises Eufinger senior’s decision to invest in Scania trucks. “That was a smart decision after we had noticed the company’s outstanding services. And the proximity of its workshops made us choose Scania. In case something happens, our trucks are repaired quickly and can get back on the roads.”
Nearly 70 year since the HEUS family business was founded, the three fourth generation siblings are optimistic. “I believe our business will grow substantially in the next five years since the economy in this region is very favorable at the moment.”
“Who knows, in 25 years, the manufacturing process of pavement stones will probably be the same as today, except with new surface coatings or raw materials. In any case, we’re prepared.”