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Company Reports - Knapp Logistics Automation: Customizing handling and storage solutions  

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Knapp Logistics Automation: Customizing handling and storage solutions

Knapp Logistics Automation: Customizing handling and storage solutions

Written by Terrence Doyle and Produced by Thane Tinkham

Ingomar Penz, the 38-year-old Austrian born CEO of Knapp Logistics Automation, has been living in the United States since 1995 and has accomplished a great deal in the 13 years he has been here.
Knapp Logistics Automation: Customizing handling and storage solutions

Ingomar Penz, the 38-year-old Austrian born CEO of Knapp Logistics Automation, has been living in the United States since 1995 and has accomplished a great deal in the 13 years he has been here.

"I have 14 years experience in management in various industries, from high tech, to automotive to the service industry," says Penz. "I began my career in 1985 with Austrian Postal Service, immigrated to the United States in 1995, and worked at HP in various management positions. Before joining Knapp I worked as a business development consultant in the automotive industry."

Penz has the educational background to match the business experience that is necessary for a high level of success.
"I hold a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Salzburg, a master's in HR management from Webster University and an MBA from Denver University. I am a Certified Arbitrator for the US National Consumer Council. I am also active on the Metro Atlanta Chamber Board of Advisors, a member of the Atlanta Logistics Council, and participate in several material handling industry associations," Penz says.
He joined Knapp five years ago, first signing on as their CFO. He has been in his current role as CEO for the past four and a half years.

What they do
"We do warehouse logistics focused on each picking," says Penz. "We have been developing comprehensive material handling and software solutions for four decades. By combining software with unique picking and storage technology, we develop high performance material handling solutions. We use a customized approach for our designs, utilizing both industry and customer specific data."

Knapp's breadth of service is diverse.

"Our product range goes from tote and carton conveyor, voice and light directed picking, mini-load (OSR, ASRS), high volume high speed picking (A-Frame) to various sorting systems," says Penz. "We also have our own warehouse management software and warehouse control system software."

Training and opportunities
Knapp has approximately 100 US employees who all benefit from a training academy offered to them in order to further their knowledge of material handling.

"We have a training academy that is open to both employees and customers to further their knowledge and experience in terms of material handling, from industry to detailed product specific training," Penz explains.

The company tries to provide the best employee growth opportunities possible. It seeks out individuals who want to stay with the company for the long term, and reward those employees who stay in a position for more than one year.

For example, an individual who remains in a position for one year can then apply to work in another of the company's global facilities in 19 countries such as in Brazil and China. The company prides itself on allowing employees the ability to move around. They aggressively recruit trade school and technical school students and have a working relationship with the University of Arkansas.

Maintaining steady growth
Knapp's US subsidiary has, despite the ongoing economic downturn, continued to experience steady growth at an average annual rate of 16 percent over the past five years. The company hopes to grow at least 10 percent in revenue over the next year, although Penz admits that because of the economy the customer's habits have, in fact, changed.

"The customer's decision-making process has lengthened significantly," says Penz. "The number of bidders per opportunities has increased and price-driven decisions lead to lower profit margins."

Knapp's main markets are the United States and Canada, though the company does operate globally with installations in more than 50 countries. Penz says some of the top US and Canadian clients are Avon, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, L'Oreal, Office Depot, CIBA Vision, Kaiser Permanente, Tiffany & Co. and Wal-Mart.

"We have two locations in the US, including the Atlanta headquarters and a western regional office to service the US and Canadian markets," says Penz. "Aside from the basic business functions, our operations also entail a complete parts warehouse, some manufacturing and assembly as well as repair work."

Knapp is always striving for improvement as well. The company employs six sigma techniques and must be ISO certified every year. It focuses on sustainability with the majority of their manufacturing and process management done at other locales. The company strives to be as energy and environmentally efficient as possible, and has been practicing sustainability and reusability for a long time, a practice rooted in its European culture.

While some manufacturing, non-critical issues and transportation is out-sourced, the company attempts to do as much as possible in house. Since the company has ample inventory and its own internal distribution, it performs all of its own major installations and processes.

Knapp utilizes proprietary software for the majority of customer projects, but relies heavily on Oracle in house. The US website has been of paramount importance as far as advertising and sales go in America.

While maintaining steady growth, Penz says Knapp hopes to build and maintain the company's core customers and business practices. While expansion is always possible it won't come at the expense of alienating any of their core clients.

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