In 1912 in Stuttgart, Germany, Karl Meissner and Paul Wurst invented a revolutionary woodchip extraction system. From these modest beginnings, M+W Group has grown to become today a company that employs over 8,500 people worldwide, operating in over 30 countries and with a turnover of over EUR 3billion. Applying innovation and engineering excellence remains firmly at core of the group.
With its extensive technology, process and design and construction engineering resources in-house, the company only operates in high-tech sectors. Specialising in engineering, procurement and construction, M+W Group delivers state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, energy solutions and scientific research centres. By focusing in this way, the company has become recognised as a market leader in the delivery of new facilities in a number of industry sectors including semiconductors, photovoltaics, pharmaceuticals and waste to energy.
The company also designs, fabricates and installs precision HVAC systems and ultra-high purity pipework solutions for the most demanding operational environments including the nuclear and microprocessor industries.
Working with major blue-chip organisations, the foremost science and research institutes as well as the most innovative technology companies, M+W Group has a demonstrable track record of delivering many of the world’s most advanced and technically challenging construction projects. The challenge of remaining at the cutting-edge of technological developments – both in the industry sector and in the application of the latest construction methodologies – means that the company is continuously seeking new and improved ways of working.
Alex Goude, M+W Group’s Business Development Director for North West Europe, explains; “The projects M+W Group delivers are technically challenging, highly complex and never standard. Achieving the best results demands a different mindset and a specialist approach. So, rather than starting with, ‘how we are going to build this?’ we start by asking, ‘what is our client looking to achieve and what do we need to engineer to deliver it?’ It’s a fundamental difference of approach that focuses on our client’s aims first rather than the required input.”
Key to the M+W Group approach is the role that technology and people play in the process. As Alex states: “First and foremost, having the best people and the right culture is absolutely critical. Engineers are by their nature problem solvers and, as an engineering-led company, M+W Group is an organisation with innovation in its DNA. We are constantly looking to apply technologies and methods from across other industries to improve our performance.
An important part of our approach is that we are technology neutral. Every one of the projects we are responsible for is unique and only by working with the technology best suited to meet our client’s specific needs can we ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose. We have to work hard to ensure we fully understand the technology options we have but it’s one of the key things that differentiates us from our competition. Once we have got the value-added element – the technology – right we can ‘wrap’ the building around it. Many of the facilities we deliver are more akin to machines rather than buildings”
Strong and sustainable growth
Just over a century has seen M+W Group grow significantly. Most recently, the UK has mirrored the Group’s success. Alex explains: “In 2007 we were turning over about £20 million and had about 25 staff; today we have well over 800 in the UK and we turnover approximately half a billion euros (€500 million). That this was achieved against a backdrop of the most challenging economic environment in generations is testament to the quality of the solutions we are able to offer and our strategic focus.”
Being global also helps as Alex explains, “Our strategy is based on working only with customers that share our values and with whom we can work on a repeat-order, collaborative basis. We also focus only on the growth markets in those regions where the investment plans are visible and underpinned by long-term economic and regulatory needs. There are of course, parts of the world that are at a different level of development in certain sectors. For example, in the UK, our markets in the nuclear and waste to energy sectors are particularly buoyant. We see a great opportunity to take the knowledge and lessons learnt from working on the projects here and applying them to the overseas markets that are looking to develop the next generation of facilities in these sectors. Another advantage of being global is that we can allocate the technical resources and expertise necessary to meet our client’s specific needs, wherever they are in the world”.
Because of the global markets M+W Group operates in, one of the key challenges facing the company is selecting which are the best opportunities to pursue. Alex states “The last thing we are trying to be is all things to all men in all places. Delivering on our promises is key to our future success and it is essential that we do not dilute our approach. We are therefore extremely thorough in our selection process of the projects to become involved in.”
An example of the success that M+W Group’s focused approach has had is the company’s recent appointment to deliver major programmes of work in the nuclear sector both in the UK and in Finland. The company is on course to undertake over £100 million of work in the sector from a virtual standing start just a few years ago. A key element in securing these contracts was demonstrating the strength of M+W Group’s engineering capability, technology integration expertise as well as the company’s leadership in lean construction. The company now has the opportunity to challenge the existing providers of construction services with new thinking, new techniques and a fresh attitude to set a new benchmark.
Another area that the company sees as key to the successful project delivery is the implementation of lessons learnt from other industries and experience from elsewhere around the world. Alex explains, “many of the techniques and disciplines involved in designing and constructing a multi-billion dollar semi-conductor production facility, on-time and on budget, are relevant, for example, to the delivery of the major energy projects. Often, the complexity and scale are directly comparable. The best companies – the learning organisations - strive relentlessly to improve their performance. M+W Group is determined to be a leader in each of the sectors we operate in”.
For M+W Group, the trends of increasing global population and urbanisation alongside changing patterns of consumption are driving demand in areas that play to the company’s strengths. Alex states, “By focusing only on high-tech sectors and investing in equipping our people with the latest technology and training they need to be leaders in their fields, our aim is that M+W Group is the trusted partner of choice. Whether that’s for a new and more sustainable source of energy; or for a state-of-the-art production facility to produce the most advanced products we want; or for a research laboratory that will enable the next breakthrough in medical science.”
Alex explains “Because of the long-term potential of the markets we operate in, our focus will remain on serving our clients in our core sectors. We also see compelling opportunities to expand geographically. To cite just one example, we believe there is significant potential to offer renewable energy and waste management solutions in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. With this in mind, we are developing our plans for the next phase of our growth, using the experience and expertise we have developed in places like the UK, and applying it to new international markets”.
For over a hundred years M+W Group has grown to become established as a major global engineering and construction company. What, then, is next for the company? “Over the next five years M+W Group will deliver many of the world’s largest and most technically challenging projects working in some of the most dynamic industry sectors. The achievements of the people at M+W Group since we were first established are incredible. However, I think the next phase of our development is going to be the most exciting yet”.