Dr. Edgar Oehler
Im Grünenstein
CH-9436 Balgach
T +41 71 722 50 59
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Press release

Edgar Oehler buys back former Hartchrom Steinach

As of 1 December STI Surface Technologies International (formerly Hartchrom AG) is back in the
hands of its previous owner, Edgar Oehler. His FFG Finanzierungs- und Factorings AG has acquired
the global surface finisher STI Surface Technologies. Once the company has been stabilised its strategy
will be revised and its geographic expansion continued.


Balgach and Steinach, 2 December 2014

Edgar Oehler has never made a secret of his intention to buy back the former Hartchrom AG in Steinach, now known as STI Surface Technologies International Holding AG or STI for short. The reason was a decision by the AFG Board of Directors to specialise in the manufacture of products for the construction industry. This strategy resulted in the sale of the
production facilities for the automotive and furniture industries. AFG also decided and announced on 12 December 2012 that it would sell its surface technologies division.

Theo Keel established Hartchrom in 1954. When he died in 1996 Oehler managed the company until 1998, when he bought it.

Hartchrom was acquired in 2007 by AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding AG Arbon TG. It was clear from the outset that Oehler wanted to keep expanding the company and making it more international. And within a short period he did just that. Its quality, technology and ability to deliver made STI AG one of the world's leading enhancers of unfinished castings and
other metal surfaces, right through to the finest surfaces of metallic materials. Today, major customers in the print and paper, automotive and powertrain, aviation, shipping, engineering and defence industries rely on STI's solutions competence.

Internationalisation to drive growth

The German market is the main sales area, with northern Europe coming second. Acquiring its biggest German competitor made STI the largest player in Germany, with the Scandinavian states in third place. Three companies were later acquired in France, mostly in the aviation sector (Airbus, helicopters etc.).

Entry in the Chinese market

After Edgar Oehler had acquired a majority of voting shares in AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding AG he was forced to abandon its Chinese business. New management was installed as a result at the surface finisher Hartchrom in Steinach. STI was sold at the peak of the economic cycle in 2007 and Edgar Oehler was able to concentrate in full on managing and expanding AFG. His aim was to develop a site in China for individual AFG divisions and to manufacture AFG products there or import them from Europe. Today the focus in on Kermi radiators and steel profiles. STI bought around 52,000 m2 of land in Changshu. STI Precision Machining (Changshu) Co. Ltd. was opened on this site after a construction period of nearly two years. The first finished cylinders were shipped on 2 March 2012. Today STI China supplies a large number of European and Chinese customers.

STI suffers setback in the crisis

The financial and economic crisis from 2009 onwards left its mark on the accounts of STI; revenue fell from nearly CHF 100 million to CHF 70 million. In late 2012 AFG decided to concentrate exclusively on construction products, which meant the sale of STI. In June this year Edgar Oehler's FFG first took over the company in Changshu, China, and now also STI in
Steinach as of 1 December 2014. The companies under the FFG umbrella are now in an ideal position to serve their international clientèle from various sites in Switzerland, Germany, France, the USA and China. Now the intention is to add other companies from the industry to this network.

Interim leadership by Oehler

Edgar Oehler's experience in restructuring and change management, as well as his knowledge of customer requirements and surface finishing products, will be of great help to STI in the upcoming phase of stabilisation and strategic realignment. The sole shareholder will lead the company for an as yet indefinite period as an active President and delegate of the Board of Directors. The individual national companies will have their own management.


For further information please contact Dr Edgar Oehler, Tel. +41 71 722 4488 or +41 79 6004 490