Strategy

Inventing success together

Creating value for the customer and inventing success together in close partnership is our number one goal. That claim is based on high levels of application and technology-driven expertise, which enable SFS Value Engineering to create new solutions for the customer day after day.

At your side 24/7

SFS is a reliable companion throughout your day, from early in the morning to late at night, seven days a week. Not many people realize this, since our precision components and mechanical fastening systems are embedded in the successful products of our customers, where they often perform critical functions.

You first come into contact with SFS products in the morning when you get up and use a coffee machine or a smartphone. Driving to work, you are surrounded by numerous SFS products embedded in your car’s safety systems, ranging from seatbelts and airbags to braking systems. These SFS products help to save lives in an emergency. At work, hard disc drives are used that contain high-precision miniature components made by SFS.

En route to a business meeting on board a modern Airbus, you will be pleased with the high level of travel comfort the aircraft offers. Here, too, you will be surrounded by SFS fastening solutions. They reduce vibration in the cabin interior and thereby lower noise levels for the passenger.

SFS products can also be found in many electronic lifestyle products, such as adventure cameras, smart watches and smart home devices. In the field of health care, SFS precision components help in bone screws and dental implant fixation solutions to surgical instrument to improve your quality of life.

Our value proposition: creating value for the customer

The cost of SFS components embedded into a customer’s product often accounts for less than 1% of the total product cost. But the costs at the customer end arising from procurement, logistics and handling operations can be several times the actual cost of these components. That is why we are not primarily interested in reducing our direct product costs and differentiating ourselves on price – there is just not enough potential. Instead, our main goal is to optimize the overall product-related costs of our customers, as shown in the value proposition graph below.

This approach generates significantly more cost-savings potential and allows us to create sustainable value for our customers. Our value engineering model focuses on product design, the fastening processes and workflows, and on exploiting the power of digitization. The result: tailored products and intelligent solutions that give our customers a competitive edge. The SFS solutions thus created lead to greater differentiation and stronger collaborative partnerships. Our aim of continuous improvement as we seek to create value for the customer can be achieved only with a strong work ethic: an unwavering commitment to “invent success together”. That is our DNA.

A strong DNA since 1928

SFS’s root go back more than 90 years, to the opening of a hardware store called Stadler in Altstätten, Switzerland. In 1960, the company branched out into cold forming technology and the production of fasteners. Today the company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of mechanical fastening solutions, precision components, and logistics systems for optimal management of C-parts. The mission from Day One – creating value for the customer, every employee an entrepreneur, and achieving sustainable success together – has been continuously pursued. This focus on entrepreneurship and a long-term horizon has been upheld to this very day. It is anchored in our core values and, in accordance with our value proposition “Inventing success together”, it is actively embraced by our employees in their daily dealings with people inside and outside the organization.

Our brand management: clear messages conveyed with distinctive typography and large-scale graphics

The renewal of SFS’s corporate identity and corporate design in 2018 sharpened the contours of its branding strategy and simplified its brand structure. The SFS brand is front and center and it replaced the SFS intec and SFS unimarket brands. This brand consolidation has clearly enhanced the effectiveness and efficiency of our communications. The SFS brand has a more distinctive profile and differentiates our own services and solutions from the competition even better than before.

Brands such as GESIPA®, Indo Schöttle, Tegra Medical, TFC and Unisteel continue to be used. Their strategic and cultural association with SFS is emphasized with the tagline “A member of SFS”.

The focused brand management strategy is continuously conveyed in our internal and external communication campaigns and actions. Besides SFS’s website and various brochures, our customer magazine “InPractice” was also given a new layout and digitalized last year. These success stories, which have been realized in collaboration with our customers, have been integrated in our website Success Stories

Further strengthening its digital branding strategy, SFS acquired the domain name sfs.com, complementing its existing sfs.biz website. This new domain will play a central role in the future.

A number of highlights in the coming financial year will focus on brand communication, including the publication of a Sustainability Report, the launch of several e-shops in the Construction division and the roll-out of an employee app.

Global production and distribution platform expanded

In 2019 the new production platform in Nantong, north of Shanghai (China) successfully commenced operations. Well over 1,000 employees and just as many manufacturing machines from the four former nearby production sites were transferred to the new site in Nantong in record time, all the while avoiding any bottlenecks in the processing of customer orders. The financial year was also highlighted by two acquisitions. With the acquisition of TFC (Triangle Fastener Corporation), a leading supplier of fasteners and other products for the commercial construction industry, SFS strengthened its market position in the US and obtained direct access to some 6,000 active customers. At the end of 2019, SFS signed a purchasing agreement with mbe (Moderne Befestigungselemente GmbH) to acquire the company as per 1 January 2020. mbe is a specialist in painted fasteners for high-performance façade systems. With this acquisition, SFS is expanding its offering of fastening systems for façade systems and its market reach, as well as its customer base in the European construction market. These two companies strengthen SFS’s market position in the Construction division and enhance its established technology and product portfolio.

Digitization potential harnessed

The digital revolution is one of the most important mega-trends for SFS. In order to make optimal use of the opportunities that arise, SFS pursues the approach of participating with its own digital solutions and with tailored solutions for its customers’ intelligent products. Examples of SFS’s in-house-developed solutions are the iBird® Pro from GESIPA® and the newly launched SFS e-commerce platform of the D&L segment. Examples of important innovative customer solutions that – in the truest sense of the word – embody the megatrend of digitalization are intelligent loudspeakers, smart watches and systems that already contain elements of autonomous driving. Using the power of digitization, we can realize improvements throughout the value chain; for example, through logistics solutions (“M2M”). Furthermore, SFS is currently developing a new solution for the internal, intelligent use of business data.

Profiting from economic globalization

Economic globalization is another mega-trend. Thanks to its global network of manufacturing sites, SFS is strategically well positioned for this trend in terms of its production and services capabilities, with operations at more than 100 locations around the world. A global footprint allows us to manage and execute projects worldwide as a local partner, which international customers in particular appreciate.

Taking advantage of demographic change and changed consumer behavior

Another mega trend is the ongoing change in consumer behavior pushed forward by demographic trends. Health and well-being are becoming increasingly important themes. In this context, SFS offers innovative and future-ready solutions that meet these needs precisely. Its large portfolio includes components and services for a variety of medical and dental applications. Growing cost pressure is further accelerating outsourcing rates by OEMs. As a value engineering specialist with years of experience in the industrialization of products and processes, SFS has proven time and again that it can create substantial value added for its customers.

Generating growth through innovation

Innovation and the continuous quest for improvement are integral elements of SFS’ corporate DNA. Innovation is often pushed forward by changes in the market landscape attributable: for example, to societal change or to demands for greater efficiency. SFS therefore attaches great importance to maintaining a close relationship with its customers in all its targeted markets and acting as a trusted innovation partner during the early stages of a project. SFS has a robust innovation and new project pipeline that grew stronger during the year under review.

Growth through acquisitions

Besides organic growth, acquisitions are also important in the ongoing development of SFS Group. Selective acquisitions give us access to new markets, customers and applications, which in turn lays the groundwork for additional future organic growth. The acquisition of large companies is not our primary objective. Instead, we focus on the performance-enhancing aspects of a potential takeover candidate and are thus attracted to well-positioned, well-managed small to mid-sized companies that do business with blue-chip customers, have attractive products that are sustainably profitable.

Strategic priorities