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Hose manufacturer Tristone eyes global growth

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Guenter Froelich, president and CEO of Tristone
Guenter Froelich, president and CEO of Tristone Flowtech Group, expects more of his firm's growth to come from the Chinese and NAFTA regions in the coming years.

FRANKFURT, Germany—Hose and belt manufacturer Tristone Flowtech Group GmbH's financial results show the company experienced strong sales growth in Europe during the first half of 2014 compared with 2013.

That is to be expected. Europe has been its strongest market for some time.

But the company is slowly changing that picture. Originally a European producer of hose for automotive engine and air charge fluid applications, the firm has expanded and is creating a more global footprint to follow its customers, according to Guenter Froelich, president and CEO of the Frankfurt-headquartered group.

Tristone recorded sales for its operations of about $137 million, up 14 percent from last year, in the first half of 2014. The company is expecting a 20-percent improvement over 2013 for the full year.

“With this sales growth, we are confident about the future development of the group in 2014 and onward,” Froelich said.

Its revenue growth thus far on the hose side of its business this year primarily is triggered by gains in the firm's European region, which experienced a 10-percent increase in sales over the prior year.

Tristone had sales increases, though smaller, in North America and China. It added a hose plant in Delicias, Mexico, in 2011 and built another hose facility in Sushou, China, in 2012, Froelich noted. It set up a sales and engineering office in Detroit in September 2013.

Figures for the Chinese and NAFTA regions likely will improve next year, he said, as the two new factories continue to increase production and their base of customers.

Tristone also has production facilities in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Spain, France and Italy.

Its sales improvement is now much more “driven by the internationalization of the group as well as growth in the European market due to several serial start-ups for major OEMs,” Froelich said.

He said that a significant contribution was made by new products such as the firm's Polyamid Pipes, which reduce weight and costs of cooling combustion engines and battery systems in hybrid and electric cars, and the company has been benefiting from the trend toward reducing space and fuel consumption with the introduction of polyamid materials and new powertrain concepts

Tristone's intention from the beginning was—and continues to be—to create a more global footprint for the company and to follow its customers.

“That is why we established the new plants in Mexico and China, and that's why we are working together in India with an automotive supplier group which is producing ... serial parts under a Tri-stone license agreement,” Froelich said.

He said quality and innovation have been keys to Tristone's growth, even at its new facilities, since it was spun off as a standalone company by Trelleborg A.B. in July 2010.

The company is handling production of cooling fluid applications for eight different original OEMs. Presently, that's expected to be roughly $8 million in sales for 2014 but is expected to grow over the next few years in light of environmental legislation in Europe, the NAFTA region and China, he said.

Tristone's strength in battery cooling offerings separates the firm's automotive supplier operation from other suppliers, Froelich said. It has broad experience not only in the hose business, he said, but more and more in combination with blow molding and injection molding in applications for engine and battery cooling systems.