A great representative of Straubingen’s mechanical engineering industry is quietly saying “FAREWELL”!

Josef Moll handed over management of MOLL Automatisierung to his successors on 1 July 2020. As the new mayor of Leiblfing, he is going to focus on the welfare of his home municipality in future.

Rofa Group Moll Abschied Josef Moll
Picture: Josef Moll, former company owner and managing director of MOLL Automatisierung
Back in 1985, the year in which a certain Boris Becker was the first German to win the tennis tournament of Wimbledon at the age of only 17, another young man from Lower Bavarian Leiblfing was about to soar high as well. Josef Moll preferred a torque wrench to a tennis racket, however.

With his competence in the craft, entrepreneurial courage, and unshakable self-confidence, he combined characteristics that were about perfect for building a company of his own. When he graduated from the master’s school in Passau as Bavaria’s youngest master mechanical engineer at the age of 20, he took over management of MOLL Maschinenbau in the early 1980s. At the time, the company had only four employees. MOLL was still developing and building agricultural machines at the time. It barely made ends meet. Young Josef Moll found that condition intolerable in the long run.

In his first year as managing director, he therefore set all gears in motion in order to be listed as a supplier of conveyor facilities the operation previously only knew from catalogues. Looking back, that decision clearly was the most important one in his entire career, laying the basis for a new, successful, and much larger company.

After the successful start as a supplier for the automotive industry and the growing entrepreneurial requirements due to this, Josef Moll brought in Franz Bayer as an experienced and competent business partner. The double management started driving the company’s development with outstanding success. Since MOLL quickly grew to exceed the dimensions of the old Eschlbach workshop by far, a production site with an operating area of about 36,000 sqm was built in the new industrial quarter of Leiblfing to keep up with the big players in the automotive supplier industry in terms of capacity as well.

When moving into the new corporate site with 28 employees at the time, Moll had recognised that he would need to focus most strongly on services in the area of engineering in future in order to remain competitive in the long run. Based on this insight, he established an independent design department with Manfred Rüth, head of design at the time and later to become his co-manager. Now, the company was able to offer everything from design, to production and assembly, to commissioning from a single source as a general contractor. This was a quantum leap from an entrepreneurial perspective.

The hard battle for the OEMs’ favour lasted many years. Eventually, Moll and Bayer acquired their first large order beyond the 10-million-DM threshold in 1996. It quickly became clear that MOLL would prevail in this trial by fire. With such a reference under its belt, the company was able to gradually establish itself as a key player of the automotive industry. It subsequently acquired globally operating OEMs such as Audi, Volkswagen, and Daimler as new customers. Larger order volumes also required more space, of course. Moll outgrew the production capacities of its new building in Leiblfing once again after just a few years. Subsequently, he had the company’s headquarters extended by building two halls (with a useful area of about 3,500 sqm) and expanded the design office (by approx. 250 sqm).

After a decade and a half of constant growth, the founder suffered his first entrepreneurial setback in 2001, when a fire started by a technical defect burned the newly constructed second production hall almost down to its foundations. Thanks to the alertness and quick reaction of an employee, the remaining operating premises could be saved from the flames.

After rebuilding and the subsequent expansion of the factory by production halls three and four (each with a useful area of about 2,000 sqm), the expansion course could continue unhindered, however, also on a global level. The first large order for the US market was the delivery of conveyor facilities for the BMW factory in Spartanburg/South Carolina in 2003. In the subsequent years, the MOLL staff grew to a headcount of 140, distributed among several sites, e.g. in Leiblfing, Sindelfingen, or Braunschweig.

After MOLL Maschinenbau was sold to the Austrian group EK-Finn, Josef Moll watched from afar as “his” company fell into insolvency, not least as a consequence of the global economic crisis in 2009. As the manager of the newly founded engineering office MAT in Perkam, Moll maintained a close enough contact with the directors of ROFA Group at the time that they could eventually be convinced to purchase and integrate newly founded MOLL Automatisierung into their group of companies.

The board of ROFA Group, under chairman Wolfgang Kozsar, had one condition for the purchase of MOLL, however: Josef Moll had to return as managing director. Together with Manfred Rüth, Moll faced new challenges in that function in order to bring his own former company back to an economically sound footing. Backed by the group parent ROFA and with great personal commitment, he contacted his old companions to help him return MOLL Automatisierung to calmer waters. His first three years as the new “old” managing director were so successful that another factory hall (with a useful area of approx. 2,500 sqm) had to be built to meet the rising demand to the production capacities.

The Moll/Rüth duo eventually returned to the track of success for good in 2014. Since their return, they had been able to increase the company turnover by a magical fifty percent!

After optimising structures and processes in the company, driving development of the IT infrastructure on the highest level, and ordering construction of another assembly hall, Josef Moll decided to pass his responsibility on into younger hands. After two years of managing the company together, he finally handed over the management to his successors Stefan Bauer and Thomas Wittmann on 1 July 2020.

Josef Moll retiring? – Impossible! What is likely going to be his last big project is all about his home region: the Leiblfing municipality. Freshly elected as mayor there, he has a clear idea of his future creative and productive contributions, similar to the manner in which he built his company. He wants to make this vision come true in the years ahead. The chances for this are quite good. After all, he is known as someone who has always been true to his word!

As managing director of MOLL Automatisierung, Josef Moll will be remembered as someone who…

  • still knew all employees in person and always considered their private lives in everyday work
  • gave every employee the feeling that they were an important part of his company
  • spoke his mind and convinced others on technical and interpersonal levels
  • always strove to maintain a balance between private life and work
  • always considered social commitment essential
  • places importance on values and traditions, in particular those of Bavaria
  • was, all in all, a down-to-earth managing director throughout the time that he was responsible for the company, with great passion, empathy, and enthusiasm that is rare in these days!

The entire staff at MOLL Automatisierung, including managing directors Stefan Bauer, Thomas Wittmann, and the board of directors of ROFA group, thank Josef Moll for his many wonderful years of cooperation, and for more than 250 secure jobs in the Straubing-Bogen district.

Thank you, “Sepp”, and all the best for your future!

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