Training to become a welding technician, industrial fitter, motor mechanic or machinist: the Freudenberg Group is giving some 130 young people the prospect of a job and a future following the devastating tsunami in 2004. Freudenberg has built a training center in Nagapattinam in the south Indian province of Tamil Nadu, the region worst affected by the disaster. As a gesture of help and solidarity with the victims, the family company launched this long-term aid project, its largest outside Germany, in addition to immediate post-disaster financial assistance. The training center in Nagapattinam will be inaugurated on March 26. Apart from the apprentices and their families, the ceremony will be attended by politicians, the media, neighbors and members of the Freudenberg project team.
After the tsunami, Freudenberg Group associates began looking for various ways to help the victims. Having identified and evaluated where needs lay, building work on the training center in Nagapattinam started in 2007. Depending on their choice of trade, the young people will train for between one and two years. They have access to the center's own library and computer room so that they can extend their knowledge beyond what they learn in the classroom. Once they have completed their apprenticeships, the young people stand a good chance of earning their living in the area affected by the tsunami and improving the infrastructure in the region.
Growth market India
India is and will remain one of the most important growth markets for the Freudenberg Group, as is confirmed by the 41 percent rise in sales to 85 million euros over the last five years. The family company supports this rapid growth with a long-term development concept and investments in expanding existing facilities as well as establishing new locations. Since 2004, the Group and its partners in the region have invested almost 20 million euros in production facilities and the sales organization. The Freudenberg Group intends to intensify its commitment in India further and is backing a network of innovative, globally active Business Groups.
"With growth rates well above the international average, India has emerged as a major economy. For many of our customers - and therefore for Freudenberg, too - the country plays an important strategic role," said Dr. Jörg Matthias Großmann, the Freudenberg Group's Regional Representative for India and Chief Financial Officer of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities KG.
The Freudenberg Group can look back on some 100 years of business relations with customers in India and established its first subsidiaries in this growth market about 40 years ago. This is a strategy that has paid off: today, the company has a solid basis in one of the key growth markets. For example, products from the Freudenberg Group and its partners ensure a comfortable ride in the Tata Nano, India's internationally famous subcompact car which is to go on sale this year. The Sigma Freudenberg NOK joint venture is the sole supplier for engine and drivetrain seals for the Tata Nano.
"The openness and ability of our associates in India is the foundation for our excellent positioning which we will be strengthening on a long-term basis," Großmann stressed. Today, the company and its partners employ more than 2,000 people at eleven sites in India. Targeted HR recruitment and development measures in particular play a key role in Freudenberg's development concept. For this reason, the company cooperates with various universities and research institutes such as the Indian Institute for Management (IIM) in Bangalore. The objective is to train students in an international environment and to underpin their theoretical training with practical experience. Freudenberg awards a scholarship to the two best first-year students, underscoring the importance of the cooperation with IIM.