August 21, 2017

Swedish manufacturer opening U.S. HQs in Berlin

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
An outside shot of Steelwrist’s new U.S. headquarters in Berlin at 576 Christian Lane. The company is spending $500,000 to renovate its 6,500 square feet.
PHOTO | Contributed
Steelwrist’s tiltrotator, seen left attached to an excavator, is the company’s top selling equipment. It spins, tilts and acts like a steel wrist, helping to improve the efficiency of larger excavating equipment.
Stefan Stockhaus, CEO, Steelwrist
Christian Yanes, General Manager, Steelwrist

Steelwrist, a Swedish-based international manufacturing company, will open its U.S. headquarters this September in Berlin.

Speaking by phone from Stockholm, Sweden, Steelwrist CEO Stefan Stockhaus said the company chose Berlin for its centralized location and the convenience of shipping its products to an accessible East Coast hub.

"There's only a six-hour difference in terms of service support from Sweden to Connecticut," Stockhaus said.

Established in Sweden in 2005, Steelwrist develops, manufactures and sells tiltrotators, quick couplers, accessories and attachments for excavators. The privately owned company also offers spare parts, field service and service agreements.

With annual sales of $40 million, Steelwrist currently employs 75 workers and is a world leader in developing, manufacturing and selling equipment that increases excavator efficiency. The key to the company's growth is its tiltrotator, an attachment that makes other excavating equipment more efficient. The tiltrotator spins, tilts and acts like a steel wrist attached to a worker's hand. This instrument can handle tasks in civil engineering, construction and landscaping.

Stockaus, 52, a graduate of Sweden's Uppsala University and the Harvard School of Business, says the demand for his company's tiltrotators has increased in recent years.

"Twelve years ago, we at Steelwrist saw a huge opportunity in the international market for our tiltrotator," he said. "Currently, the three Swedish companies that make tiltrotators control 95 percent of the world's market. Recently, Steelwrist began operations in South Korea."

Stockhaus said the company's product market share in Scandinavia is 90 percent. In the U.S., it's approximately 1 percent.

"However, in the past two years we have seen an increase in interest from the U.S. on our website [www.steelwrist.com]," he said. "We started to get requests for [price] quotations from companies in various states."

General Manager Christian Yanes, who will head Steelwrist's U.S. operations, said the tiltrotator is key to customer interest in America.

"It's the one product that can increase productivity by up to 35 percent," he said. "The more complicated the job, the higher the productivity. If you can do a job in four days rather than seven, you're saving your company money."

Yanes, who is acquiring a U.S. Visa, said the Berlin office will be located at 576 Christian Lane in 6,500 square feet of rental space. Steelwrist's official U.S. headquarters will drive company operations in all 50 states. Products will be ready for delivery and the office will eventually staff American service people. The company has invested $500,000 in its Berlin U.S. headquarters. Steelwrist did not receive assistance from the state Department of Economic and Community Development or tax incentives from the town of Berlin.

The Berlin location will feature a "supersized sand box" in which customers can try Steelwrist products before making a purchasing decision. Because of its location, Stockhaus and Yanes anticipate strong interest from New England dealers who sell excavating equipment.

"Though the Berlin office currently employs three people plus an outside salesperson, we plan on building an American team, hiring and training mechanics, engineers, administrative and warehouse workers," Yanes said. "As sales increase, we may open a second U.S. operation on the West Coast."

Chris Edge, Berlin's economic development director, said he anticipates the company will grow long term in central Connecticut.

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