Kolbus managing director Kai Büntemeyer has left the management of the company, effective yesterday (31 January).
Büntemeyer has managed the family-owned German manufacturer for more than 20 years, having taken over at an economically difficult time for the business in 1997.
He was initially part of a two-man management team and has served as sole managing director since 2003, at which point he also become a shareholder of the business.
The circumstances surrounding Büntemeyer’s departure from the role, and further information regarding his future, had not been made public at the time of writing.
A company statement released today (1 February) said: “The shareholders of Kolbus express their sincere thanks to Kai Büntemeyer for his remarkable merits and contribution during his employment with Kolbus.”
Kolbus UK managing director Robert Flather told PrintWeek: “Kai is somebody who has fantastic strategic insights and abilities and he has been quite an inspirational leader for Kolbus for the last 22 years since he took over.
“It was quite a tricky time in 1997, but we started on a path of growth and development in our machine programme and our marketing, sales and everything which took the company up to some real peaks.
“We then hit the recession in 2008 and 2009 – we glided into it and we came through it in pretty much exactly the same shape as we went into it, which is a testament to Kai’s ability.”
He added: “And then as we’ve tackled the problem of the graphic arts industry – particularly bookbinding getting smaller – the deal that we did with Muller Martini a year ago was again a typical example of Kai thinking outside the box and coming up with something quite extraordinary, and it was a good deal for all parties.”
Wilfried Kröger, who has worked for Kolbus since 1986, has been appointed as Büntemeyer’s successor. Kröger has more than 25 years of management experience in sales and manufacturing at the company’s headquarters in Rahden, Germany.
“Wilfried is Kolbus man and boy – he spent his first years in the factory, where he rose to be number two. 22 years ago he was taken out and put in sales and a year ago, after the Muller Martini deal, he moved from being sales director to running the factory,” said Flather.
“For Kolbus, the sales of cast and machine parts is now a very large part of our business, so putting a sales guy in the factory was actually a typical Kai move of inspirational, lateral thinking. But Wilfried has been around for a good many years and he’s well respected, and while we’re very sorry to see Kai go, we’re all very pleased that Wilfried is the new man.”
Kolbus continued its move into packaging in September when it acquired UK kit manufacturer Autobox Machinery. It had sold its perfect binding and book line business to Muller Martini in January 2018.