Businessman builds up his group of companies into an internationally respected innovator and service provider
Torsten Wywiol (50) has been elected “Entrepreneur of the Year 2016.” The CEO of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe in Hamburg was recently presented with the prestigious business award of the professional services firm EY in Berlin.
This year, 34 companies reached the finals of the demanding, multi-stage competition. From this group of finalists, an independent jury selected the winners of the coveted title. In the category Consumer Products and Retail, the award went to Torsten Wywiol, who has built up his group of 12 independent specialist companies into an internationally respected ingredients manufacturer and innovator in the fiercely competitive food industry.
The “Entrepreneur of the Year” award acknowledges outstanding achievements in more than 60 countries. In 2016 the award was granted for the 20th time in Germany to entrepreneurs who achieve top performance and regularly bring about remarkable innovations. At the same time, they must attach importance to fair treatment of employees and contribute to solving social problems.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe is made up of 12 independent specialist companies in Germany that manufacture and market functional ingredients for the production of food and feed. They include such internationally renowned firms as Hydrosol, Mühlenchemie, SternMaid, SternVitamin, Sternchemie, SternEnzym, HERZA Schokolade and Berg+Schmidt.
Each individual company has a high level of competence in a specific field, for example in baked goods, dairy products, deli foods, meat, fish, chocolate, flavourings, lecithins, enzymes and vitamins. Their customers include industrial bakeries, dairies, producers of food and sugar confectionery, and also manufacturers of animal feed in 136 countries.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe has already developed some 1500 base materials from which the group continuously creates and manufactures new ingredients and raw products that give industrially produced foods a longer shelf-life and make them healthier and more nutritious.
This is done in close cooperation with the customer, but above all it is made possible by the flexible structures of the enterprise: the group’s Network of Excellence offers a platform for the development of customized products by the specialist companies. The constant exchange of information between all the food experts stimulates creativity and promotes the emergence of new formulations.
On an area of 3000 square metres at the group’s own Stern-Technology Center, ingredients are mixed, stirred, baked or boiled in various pilot production units: 15% of the employees are engaged in developing and optimising food ingredients. “It is here that all the firms specialising in different industries have access to the pooled knowledge and skills of the whole group,” says Entrepreneur of the Year Torsten Wywiol.
“We make an important contribution to human nutrition around the globe,” Wywiol explains. It is no mere chance that the group regularly co-operates with relief organisations. Fortification of flours with essential vitamins and minerals helps to prevent deficiencies and promotes the health of many populations around the world.
The Stern-Wywiol Gruppe was founded by Torsten’s father Volkmar Wywiol in Hamburg in 1980. Through the shrewd acquisition of small companies, but above all through its own development, the single enterprise grew into a dynamic group of firms that now employs a staff of more than 1000 worldwide and achieves an annual turnover of €450 million.
Today, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe not only supplies ingredients, it also offers intermediate products to industrial bakeries, dairies, and manufacturers of food and confectionery.
Not only has Torsten Wywiol considerably increased the group’s turnover, he is also forging ahead with its internationalisation. With 15 affiliates abroad, in the world’s key markets, the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe has already established a sound basis for further growth. “In most of the markets where our group operates, it holds a leading position or offers the best quality,” Wywiol explains. In flour treatment and flour improvement the group plays a leading role, and the enzymes for food and animal nutrition meet the highest standards.
“Being a family business we have the advantage of short routes; we can respond faster to customers’ wishes and make quick decisions,” says Torsten Wywiol. A large proportion of our profits is invested in training our employees.
They can plan plenty of scope and freedom into their daily activities and expect responsibility. “As a company operating outside the structures of the big multicorporate enterprises, we regard our independence as almost sacred,” Torsten Wywiol asserts. “That has always enabled us to be a little different from the rest. A bit unconventional, sometimes – but all the more creative and successful.”