Based in Nassau in the State of Hesse, MEN Metallwerk Elisenhütte GmbH is a German company considered one to be of the most important European manufacturers of small-calibre ammunition. Since its acquisition by the Brazilian company Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos (CBC) in 2006, MEN increased its market share in this segment to over 50%,with more than 80% of that figure coming from sales to the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) and other European NATO member forces. The products comply with the most demanding NATO standards, and can thus be used across the entire climate spectrum. MONCh speaks to Hermann Mayer, Managing Partner of MEN.
MONCh: What technological trends shape MEN as a manufacturer and supplier of ammunition and as a global technology leader?
H. Mayer: Being technologically ‘up-to-date’ is, of course, important for us and affects all areas of MEN. So, we have spread our investments over the last four years across the entire company: the biggest have included a fully automatic high-bay warehouse, new loading machines with advanced production technology, new packaging machines with integrated measuring technology and, finally, a new sleeve press with an automated production process. With these investments, we can optimise our process flows and thus increase our productivity – otherwise, we will not be able to survive against the competition or to continually satisfy our customers.
MONCh: How quickly can you react to new demands from the market?
H. Mayer: For MEN employees, personal contact with customers is one of the most important working tools – so we always know very early when our customers are faced with new tasks or situations and therefore have new requirements for us. Based on this information, we define the exact conditions and then decide whether we start a completely new development or can adapt an existing cartridge. The employees in our development department always work to excellent effect – and very quickly. For us, as a medium-sized company, it is part of our daily life to recognise, exploit, and always drive forward the potential for optimisation – on the customer’s part, as well as our own.
MONCh: Is Germany still an important market for you?
H. Mayer: Of course, the German market is and will remain an important focus for us, together with Central Europe. The German armed forces and security authorities have been our customers for a long time and account for a large part of our production. In addition, France, the Netherlands, more recently Sweden, and other European armies are among our existing customers.
MONCh: What do you offer military and government customers: what are the strengths of your products?
H. Mayer: MEN is a German manufacturer and produces ammunition which has earned the label ‘Quality – Made in Germany’. We have the highest quality standards for our employees, our production process and of course our products, which are certainly our main strengths. To be able to sustain this claim permanently, we continue to develop and optimise our processes every day. Where possible, we improve manufacturing tolerances, increase our customer service levels, always meet all pertinent safety standards and pay attention to environmental protection. Many of our cartridges are already labelled as ‘green ammunition,’ which means they are lead-free and low in pollutants. In addition, we pay careful attention to the handling of water and wastewater, relying on sustainable production techniques. All this combined makes us a reliable and strong partner, today and in the future.
MONCh: What experiences have you had with government customers?
H. Mayer: Our experiences with government clients are very positive. We deal with competent contacts who are aware of the special nature of the product they procure. This is underlined not least by the fact that our customers use our weapons to check our ammunition on-site during the final acceptance process. This creates trust on both sides and overall leads to a high level of understanding of the product and the requirements of the users.
MT: Are there any special marketing strategies in other countries or regions, e.g. South America?
H. Mayer: As you undoubtedly know, MEN is part of the CBC Global Ammunition Group. Together with Sellier & Bellot, Magtech and, of course, CBC, we offer a large portfolio to clients worldwide. Of course, there are overlaps within the group, but each company has its own unique selling proposition. At MEN, this is the very high-quality military and official ammunition that we deliver to German and Central European customers. Here we have a solid customer base, which we have been looking after for a long time and on which we will continue to focus in the future. The South American area is definitely not a target market for MEN.
MONCh: What is the meaning of ‘low-emission ammunition’ for MEN and what distinguishes it compared to conventional products?
H. Mayer: As already noted, the subject of low-emission ammunition and the corresponding environmentally-friendly production process is a very important issue for us, and for our customers. That is why we are constantly pushing development in this area – firstly because customers demand more and more low-emission ammunition, and secondly because we have committed ourselves to production in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible.
In the meantime, we have been able to develop some of our products beyond the ‘low in pollutants’ point, which we call ‘green ammunition’. Products with this designation are low in emissions and lead-free: this ammunition not only contains low-emission primers, but is also free of lead and other heavy metals. This is just for those users, such as a shooting coach in an indoor shooting range, who see this as a requirement essential for their own health.
MONCh: Thank you, Mr. Mayer, for this interview.