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 High Performance and Innovation
Executive
Natalie Mekelburger
Leads the Highly
Specialized Supplier Coroplast
Text GERALD SCHEFFELS / Photos CARSTEN BEHLER
As the third generation of her family to take the reins, Natalie Mekelburger could certainly be satisfied with the future prospects of her company. Coroplast is a globally active automotive supplier with some 6,000 employees and a product spectrum whose importance will continue to rise due to current developments in the areas of e-mobility and autonomous driving. The company produces electrical wires and wire harnesses, as well as the technical adhesive tapes that protect them, at thirteen locations world- wide. Coroplast developed special high-voltage wires for elec- tric vehicles as early as 2008.
Natalie Mekelburger took over as Chairwoman of the Board of Management in 2006. Under her leadership, Coroplast’s sales have more than doubled since then—to over €500 mil- lion in 2018. An impressive achievement in the mature market of the automotive supplier industry. Even so, the great-niece of the company founder still feels duty-bound to press ahead with the transformation of her company. “There are a number of factors in the automotive industry that indicate a trend to- ward lower unit volumes in the traditional markets. There are also new players on the market—and we are expecting com- pletely new forms of mobility.”
On the way to a High Performance Organization
Paired with the company’s strong growth, these factors moved the company to develop, in concert with Porsche Consulting, a modified corporate structure adapted to the requirements of the future. The plan envisions three independent business units led by a holding company: technical adhesive tapes, wires and cables, and special wire harness assemblies. “The new structure will increase our flexibility, enhance our ability to innovate, and intensify customer relationships,” says Me- kelburger. “We will use these three factors to measure our cor- porate performance, which we aim to improve further. At the same time, we retain our group structure and offer the three operational units centralized points of contact through the ac- tive holding company, which will support their work and define the overarching culture.”
Structural and process organization as well as the interfac- es between the holding company and the business units were precisely defined based on the principle of “as much decen- tralization as possible, as much centralization as necessary.”
The new structure offers several advantages. One of them is the greater ease with which acquired companies such as start-ups can be integrated. Mekelburger stresses that not ev- erything will change in the new organizational form: “We, the central company, won’t be issuing arbitrary sales targets to the units.” Rather, the units will continue to define their mar- ket potential and derive the sales targets from that—though the targets will be binding at that point. “We’re building on the entrepreneurial drive of the individual units. We think that’s a more authentic approach: organizations generate a lot of am- bition and work with a great sense of personal responsibility when they set their own market-appropriate goals.” The cor- porate figures bear her out: “In recent years the business units have always exceeded their own expectations.”
Agenda for the digital transformation
One important component along the way to a High Perfor- mance Organization (HPO) is the digital agenda that Coroplast developed together with Porsche Consulting in a second proj- ect. The project is directed by a centralized digital transforma- tion unit anchored in the new organizational structure.
The new unit is the happy result of the digital blueprint that the Porsche consultants developed with Coroplast. The blue- print set forth various areas of activity that are currently being checked off the list. The first elements were the smart factory and digital office. The latter means that all people involved in a project work interactively with the same set of documents, which is stored in the cloud. Natalie Mekelburger describes the goal: “In five years we will be a paperless company. That is the vision we are pursuing.” The digitalized processes will cover the entire workflow and ultimately make work simpler for all involved—including customers. In the second area of
“We want to become
a paperless company
within five years.” NATALIE MEKELBURGER
Chairwoman of the Board of Management, Coroplast
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