For the European chemical industry the global economic crisis lasted from the autumn of 2008 to the spring of 2010. However, since the summer of 2010 chemical companies – and in particular the German chemical industry – have been experiencing a tremendous upturn. While last year‘s „Compendium of Industrial Parks 2010“ reported in detail about the strategies of the chemical parks with which the site operating companies came to the aid of their ailing clients, the operators themselves seem to have got off lightly. On the one hand, some sites benefited from the broad structural basis of their clients – thus the production pharmaceuticals, for example, was hardly affected by the crisis; on the other hand, service providers profited from their broad portfolio of offerings, which also include indispensable services such as media supplies and ESHA and other safety-related services. „On the whole, the site has weathered the crisis well,“ reported Dr. Stefan Dresely, Head of Krefeld-Uerdingen Chempark, in the spring of 2010. Despite the difficult economic environment, some 63 m euros were invested in new plant and maintenance measures at the Bayer site in 2009. In some cases the site operators and manufacturers in industrial parks have again formed closer ties and service providers have been able to expand their total volume of business with on-site clients. The fact that medium-sized enterprises of the process industries are joining the outsourcing trend and are awarding maintenance and other service contracts to specialised service providers has evidently more than compensated for the short-term trend of pulling outsourced service tasks in-house in order to provide work for the companies own employees.
„As a rule, it is hardly worth taking on service tasks oneself at short notice for a limited time“, in the opinion of Dr. Roland Mohr, Managing Director at Infraserv Höchst: „The employees often lack the extensive know-how required in particular for complex and demanding services and no company can afford a loss of quality in important secondary processes.“ According to Mohr, the process operating companies are more likely to put investment projects on hold in a crisis in order to remain solvent than to save money on service contracts.
Infracor, the company which operates Marl Chemical Park, even succeeded in expanding during the crisis year of 2009: „We intensified our marketing and sales activities during the crisis and were able to further increase our business with external clients“, is how Bernd Vendt, Head of the Technology Division at Infracor, explains 10-per cent higher sales in 2009. Other industrial park operators, especially those with a special pharma focus, such as Pharmaserv at Behringwerke site in Marburg, also report growth in spite of the crisis.?[AS]
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