Conex Bänninger, global manufacturer and supplier of fittings, valves and accessories, is celebrating 25 years of production in Poland.
Today, a world class manufacturing site and a distribution centre near the city of Poznan supports a total of around 550 jobs, fulfilling its potential as a base for thriving sales in markets across Europe and around the globe.
It was spotting that opportunity for growth, firstly in Poland then internationally, that persuaded parent IBP Group to invest in what was a small factory and warehouse in Ovodrzytka in the west of the country, in 1992.
The acquisition, of Instalfittings Sp., was the springboard for a quarter of a century of product innovation and rapid expansion that has contributed much to the ongoing success of Conex Bänninger and IBP today.
Richard Darwin, Group Commercial Director at IBP Group, said: “We were fortunate in identifying the opportunity for growth through establishing production in Poland and this has proven to be a winner, many times over.
“The commitment, innovation and expertise provided by all those involved has built great success for Conex Bänninger over the past 25 years, and made a major contribution to the rich heritage of the IBP Group.”
Today’s state-of-the-art facilities comprise a modern foundry in the Poznan district and a 12,000 square metres warehouse and logistics hub at nearby Sady, from where Conex Bänninger fittings and valves are distributed throughout Europe and as far afield as Australia and the USA.
Together the two sites employ around 400 people in production and a further 150 in logistics and sales. And with demand for Conex Bänninger fittings and valves continuing on an upward trend further investment is likely.
Instalfittings was established in 1987 by founder Irekneusz Grupa, known to his colleagues as ‘Irek’. At the time of acquisition by IBP Group the company had a workforce of just 50, making red brass and compression fittings.
Richard Darwin, continued: “Irek was an inspirational leader and when IBP Group acquired the company he initially stayed on as CEO. Later as sales and marketing director he continued to play a central part in the business’s success, ensuring that the growing range of products was taken into new, international markets.”
Those early years saw investment in a new 2,000 square metres warehouse, brass fittings production was extended and a new sales team was introduced.
At the time Conex and Bänninger were separate brands, but building on the strong core developed in Poland, in 1994 IBP Group merged the two to form Conex Bänninger.
Subsequent transitions in production saw copper products brought to the market, with copper pushfit, >B<Press and also red brass fittings introduced in 1999. The expansion to Sady, about 17 kilometres from Poznan, took place in 2005.
Having invested in the manufacturing centre it was important to build and support a professional distribution network with key customers. Initially through Irek’s efforts, this was further developed following the appointment of Vasyl Kurulenko as Sales Director responsible for Eastern Europe.
Recruited in 2007 and supported by a strong sales team, Vasyl has grown sales in the region, providing the platform for today’s success.