It all started 50 years ago with a first tying machine and a two-man operation on the premises of a former laundry in Hilden. Two employees eventually became 850 and the product range of Mosca GmbH today extends from automatic strapping machines to specialized high-performance systems and high-quality consumables. One thing that has not changed is the company’s status as a family business. In an interview, founder Gerd Mosca looks back to the very beginnings along with his son Timo and his wife Simone, who jointly run the company today. They talk about what keeps them strong as a family business.
You founded your company in 1966 – how did you start out?
Gerd Mosca: I had been involved with technology and machines all my life. As a young man, I was an apprentice locksmith before going on to become a mechanical technician and ultimately a design engineer. At some point, I felt the need to create something new – that’s what inspired me to start my own business. Our first machine was a tying machine. As time went on, however, cord became more expensive and demand for these machines fell. Strapping, in contrast, was becoming ever cheaper and the need for appropriate technology increased – so we began to develop in that direction. I have never regretted taking that step as it has enabled me to realize a lot of my ideas.
Timo Mosca: That had implications not just for us as a company, but for the entire strapping industry. For example, my father developed the first ever infeed and welding solution for narrow strap applications. Up to then, it was unusual to weld plastic straps. The straps were still laboriously sealed with metal. At that time, back in 1981, feeding narrow plastic straps into a closed guide frame and welding them was an absolute sensation and was crucial to the development of the industry. As the years went by, we took things ever further. Inline technology was one of our innovations too. That’s a method for gently strapping corrugated board products ‘along the wave’ and has been adopted by many companies. Our patented ultrasonic SoniXs technology is unique in the market. We spent years perfecting the process and no one has yet been able to copy it. The technology is superior to conventional heat welding in many ways, among other reasons because it achieves better results using less energy.
Where do you get these ideas? And how do you explain your continued success?
Timo Mosca: We keep our eyes open and look out for where needs arise for which we can develop new solutions. We also give our employees the opportunity to leave their own mark on the business and we reward innovative ideas. Many of our team are absolute luminaries in their field and contribute exciting new ideas. As a family business, we can create the space needed for developments because we are not forced to show results every quarter.
Simone Mosca: Our decision-making processes are also shorter than in large corporations. We can test promising ideas without a lot of bureaucracy. That is not only fun; it also enables us to create new solutions faster. For example, we succeeded in bringing PLA straps – plastic straps made from biological raw materials – to market. This involved extruding the material, which was considered impossible within the industry. We were able to simply give it a try and then to keep fine-tuning the process until we had a result that met our requirements.
Talking of plastic strapping – what role does the production of strapping play in your overall business?
Timo Mosca: It’s very important to us. We began making our own plastic straps at the end of the 1980s. This was initially made from polypropylene, but we later began using PET. In 2008, we made the biggest investment in our company history, enlarging and centralizing our strap production. We built an ultra-modern, fully automated factory in Muckental. It’s the most advanced in Europe. Shortly afterwards, the global financial crisis made its presence felt with us and it was not an easy time. Up to that point, we had enjoyed decades of strong growth figures. Suddenly we were confronted by the need to reduce costs. But we learned from that situation and we have emerged stronger from the crisis as a company. Our personal cohesion and the commitment of our employees were also a great support. And of course my wife, Simone, who had only just joined the business.
Simone Mosca: The central need in Muckental at the time was to optimize processes. It was a question of identifying how we could better align ourselves internally and in terms of our customers’ needs; where we could become more efficient. These were the questions that occupied my mind as I assumed the management role in this area. Today, our strap production accounts for more than a quarter of total sales and we have a great team in that department. And the message is clear: even the best strapping machine is useless without quality consumables.
How much has the business changed in the last 50 years?
Timo Mosca: It’s no longer enough simply to sell good machines and good straps. Alongside advanced technology, our customers today require particularly efficient and reliable processes above all. Nowadays, no one can afford downtime due to equipment failure, so we sell availability. That means, we ensure that our customers’ processes run optimally. In this context, our global consulting and service network – which is unique in the industry – plays an important role.
Simone Mosca: In selecting the partners we work with internationally, we always base our search specifically on whether they can offer our customers a level of service that meets our own standards. Over the years, we have earned ourselves an outstanding reputation and that is obviously something we want to preserve.
How do you manage to retain your employees and attract new people? That’s probably not so easy for a company that has its headquarters in the heart of Germany’s Odenwald region.
Gerd Mosca: We offer excellent training and development opportunities and of course exciting tasks. But our excellent business climate, characterized by mutual respect, is very special. It’s not something you find everywhere. Especially at our headquarters in Waldbrunn, the way we work together sometimes really feels like a big family. We stick together. Even though it’s impossible to personally know every one of the many new faces who have joined us in recent years, the feeling of mutual solidarity is still there.
Timo Mosca: It is precisely this spirit that we try to pass on to our international operations as well. It’s very important to me to maintain direct contact with our staff, and not just here in Waldbrunn. That’s why I regularly travel to our international offices. For example, I was recently in Asia. I celebrated the Chinese New Year there with our colleagues. I also renewed my acquaintance with long-time employees, met new staff members, spoke with a lot of people and shook a lot of hands. That’s something you just can’t do via a video conference but it is immensely important for cohesion.
Gerd, would you like to see your grandchildren taking over the company in due course?
Gerd Mosca: I am proud that we have been here for 50 years and am, of course, delighted that my son and daughter-in-law are so successful in running the company today. But my two grandchildren have to decide for themselves whether they want to follow the same path. Most of all, I wish especially that Mosca will have a long future and will continue to bring the industry forward – and that the personal ties and cohesion among everyone involved in the company will continue to remain as strong as before.
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