As recounted by Garry Thür, CTO; focus on the long-term strategic development of the group with emphasis on investments, new business models, innovation, product management and digital transformation. With the company since 2003.
After an introductory phase on the joint Lötschberg Base Tunnel project and a subsequent "on-off" relationship, the companies Sersa Group and Rhomberg Rail Holding merged on 17 September 2012 to form the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group. They found commonalities, opposing aspects, and things that complemented each other in their culture and in the geographical markets. The commonalities in the high quality standards, in the cohesion, in the focus on finding solutions would soon prove to be very helpful in a difficult phase in Germany.
Standing together when things are difficult
In 2015, the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group bought three parts of Balfour Beatty Rail in Germany and Austria. One of them had to be placed under self-administration and restructured on account of insolvency. It was the first time that our people had to deal with insolvency. The decisive point to the solution: the combination of vision and consistency in implementation, supported by a professional process. What exactly does this mean? Establishing the best possible transparency, identifying problems, striving for unanimous solutions as far as possible, gaining the trust of both owner families. Through this difficult time, we have grown together in the group and have become a relevant partner in Germany. After this phase of “getting through it together”, major projects in Germany have been realised over the years. In December 2021 there was once again strong evidence of us having made it in Germany: Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group received the tender package for the railway equipment and civil engineering at DB's largest maintenance workshop in Cottbus. For the first time, this is being carried out as an alliance contract based on partnership.
Changes - what we did 10 years ago and what we’re doing today
Sersa, a leader in the complete renewal and rehabilitation of switches, and Rhomberg, a leader in the field of slab tracks, have complemented and completed each other in the markets. A steady rapprochement has been taking place between the initially different cultures. We have become one company - you can no longer tell us apart. We came together in 2012 to become a leading railway engineering company in Europe. Today, we are among the top 5 in Europe and the largest family-run business by far. Our self-image and client perception have improved. We are much more self-confident and in most markets we react from a position of strength. Cooperation within the group has increased considerably. Our defined goal is to transfer solutions and competences from one country to the other, and we are busy doing exactly that. The decisive key factor, which is experienced today more than ever, is the fact that we all act like entrepreneurs. We are aware that we have to earn growth and innovation ourselves. Everything can be questioned in constructive dialogue, everyone is responsible for themselves.
Emotional highlights in Ireland and Australia
We were able to experience a magnificent result of entrepreneurial action in Ireland in December 2021. The background: In 2012, the year of the merger, the decision was made not to tender and build up a market in Ireland, but we then dared to try it in 2017 and actually received a comprehensive 5-year maintenance contract from Irish Rail in 2019. The Ireland team is extremely strong today. When Konrad Schnyder and I visited the site before Christmas 2021, we were overwhelmed by the praise, gratitude and pride of our colleagues and the positive feedback from our client. Those are moving feelings that you don’t forget that easily.
For me personally, the development of our site in Australia is an experience with many highlights. We had been developing the Australian market since 2006 with high hopes, step by step, when private investments were suddenly stopped in 2012 due to the economic crisis. We ended up making losses and had to implement restructuring measures. The exact same thing happened to our competitors. Some of them withdrew from the railway sector in that time, which in turn helped us to get into the black again. Of course, we weren’t a hundred percent sure that it would work out, but we believed in our long-term strategy and in our employees. We came through where others climbed out. “Going the distance” was the recipe for success here. From 2015, it then went from one record to the next. Today, Rhomberg Rail Australia is an established player with major contracts in slab track - thanks to the expertise from the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group.
Vision for 2032
Looking at the year 2032, I see the following image of the group: We have a stable foundation in our construction site execution competence, which is optimised by automated processes. Using the existing technology platforms, we are active in the product and service sector in many more countries than today. As we are leaders in technological change, our group even helps to build platforms for the optimisation of construction processes. We sell knowledge on construction sites where we ourselves are not even building. As we operate in many markets, we are able to offer our clients tried and tested solutions more quickly. Through our anticipation of solutions, we are a valued, desirable partner in the client’s team. We operate even more strongly in networks, in competence networks with clients, in partnership models. We are pioneers when it comes to resource matters and climate neutrality, and therefore attract the best experts in their field as employees and partners.
10 Years of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group - why our merger became a success story
An addition to the family
Andreas Kiesenhofer tells how the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group has grown together more and more as a group.