German-based lubricant company Fuchs opens $33 million plant in Beresfield

Drum roll:  Fuchs general manager Stefan Fuchs, right, with deputy managing director Stewart Knight, in Beresfield. Picture: Marina Neil.
Drum roll: Fuchs general manager Stefan Fuchs, right, with deputy managing director Stewart Knight, in Beresfield. Picture: Marina Neil.

GERMAN lubricants company Fuchs has opened its new $33 million manufacturing plant in Beresfield as a result of “increased” business in Australia, one of its top five markets.

Its chief executive, Stefan Fuchs, flew from Germany to officiate on Thursday at a ceremony attended by 130 business and industry guests.

Producing about 10,000 lubricant products for industries ranging from mining and automotive to transport and food, Fuchs has been present in the Hunter since 1991, when it opened a factory in Wickham.

The company has more than 50 companies and 34 manufacturing plants globally, and the move to relocate to Beresfield, about three times bigger than the old site, was preempted by the  Wickham factory no longer being up to the company’s technical standards.

“Due to our increased business and commitment to Australia and local manufacturing we wanted to invest here,” Mr Fuchs said.

Fuchs deputy managing director Stewart Knight said choosing the Beresfield site had enabled the company to purpose-build its plant, which has two state-of-the-art research laboratories.

“It’s ideal at the end of the freeway from Sydney so we can materials from north and south and we are closer to our customer base,” he said.

While mining is the company’s biggest business unit, Mr Knight said it had a balanced portfolio and five sales divisions which had allowed it to weather mining troughs. 

“Mining has lots of opportunities given the size of the market and the automotive sector and from our persepctive our market share is one where we continue to grow,” said Mr Knight, adding that almost all of the products for the local market were made at the Beresfield plant and a second plant in Melbourne.

 Mr Fuchs underlined that the company’s business model focused on having local people on the ground and manufacture locally in every country it operated in.

“We pay our taxes and only send the remaining dividend over to our [German] headquarters,” he said. 

Fuchs racked up almost $2.5 billion euro ($AUD39.3b) in global sales last year,  about 30 per cent of that from Asia, where China is its largest business, followed by Australia. Mr Fuchs said it is enjoying renewed organic growth in Australia, China and the US.

“We see a robust economy but due to the issues with national protection and tension in some countries … I’m curious to know how long it will last when you read about activities in Turkey, China and the US but from an economic standpoint it’s positive.”

Mr Knight said staff levels remain the same at Beresfield but there is more focus on “continuous improvement, maintenance, and systems”.