As featured in Business Focus Magazine
Family-owned Weiss-Aug is an example of the American dream – Dieter Weissenrieder, the company founder and CEO, emigrated from Germany in 1960 as a tool and die maker to work for his uncle’s tooling business. He quickly became the manager of the company, and when it was later sold to a large firm, he founded Weiss-Aug with just a handful of colleagues in 1972. The rest is history.
“Last year we celebrated our 50th anniversary, five decades of growth and expansion. A rewarding milestone for a company that started with just myself, my former partner Kurt Augustin and three colleagues who had come with us from the previous company,” says Mr Weissenrieder.
Looking back, he explains that the business started as a stamping company making metal parts. A turning point came in 1980 when Polaroid Camera decided to make the company their prime parts suppliers, giving the business the opportunity to add moulding to its capability.
“To clarify, we don’t just make plastic parts, we make parts that have metal embedded. That’s what sets us apart from our competition today. There are very few companies that have both stamping and moulding technology. This combination has enabled us to grow over the years, into a strong group that employs 700 people across five plants and a research centre.”
The story sounds simple enough, but what was the real driving force behind such marked success? “We just loved what we were doing and were very passionate about it. The sky was the limit in those days,” says Mr Weissenrieder, who evidently still has the same love and passion for the business today. “We didn’t even have a business plan for the first ten years. But we believed in what we were doing, and we did that with full dedication and commitment.”
Weiss-Aug development was a process of both organic growth and business acquisitions. Entering the new millennium, Dieter Weissenrieder’s vision for growth led to the acquisition of a tooling company, a stamping company, and the addition of a medical device-focused division. Following the successes of those integrations, Weiss-Aug Mexico was launched in 2017, and in 2020 Lupine Research, an R&D firm in Boulder, Colorado, was created to provide customers with early product development support and next-generation technology.
In 2022, Weiss-Aug Surgical New Kensington division launched and in January 2023, the newest, the Life Sciences Division was added, located in Fairfield, New Jersey, and responsible for the development and manufacture of drug delivery and combination devices, with core competencies in insert moulding, laser welding, and clean room assemblies.
Today, the Weiss-Aug Group is an internationally recognized leader in precision metal stamping, injection moulding, value-added assembly solutions and tooling, serving the medical device industry, automotive industry, and industrial sector. The company provides design, prototype, advanced engineering support, and manufacturing services, ensuring a seamless transition from prototype to production.
A growing sector
Mr. Weissenrieder explains that although a large part of the company’s business comes from the automotive industry, today the most important market is the medical field, which today generates some 60% of Weiss-Aug revenues and is increasing.
“There is a tremendous need in America for medical devices as people are living longer and health problems are on the rise. This increases demand for our products. On top of that, we also support our customers in making their products better, easier to manufacture and less expensive.”
“The achievements I’m most proud of have been made in cooperation with customers, leading to important product improvements, or creating a new product, such as a new medical device. The medical industry is constantly looking for support from their supplier base, which they very much appreciate. We have done some terrific work in the medical industry, and hearing stories of someone’s child or wife being successfully operated on using one of our instruments always make me feel happy. I think that is success.”
An example of recent products manufactured by Weiss-Aug (in partnership with RxBandz) is the MiniJect™ auto-injector. These can be used to safely inject life-saving medication, in fixed doses, such as epinephrine in the context of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or anti-allergens. Using vertical injection moulding machines, the company is able to maintain a high level of reproducibility and tight tolerances in the injection moulding process to ensure exact dosing.
Driven by passion and commitment
Weiss-Aug is aware that human resources are an integral part of its success. As early as 40 years ago, Mr Weissenrieder set up his own apprenticeship school – an unusual step in the US. Today the company is one of the few in New Jersey to run an extensive apprentice department.
“Some of the people that we have trained over the 40 years are still working with us today. That is quite impressive, I think, especially in America. I believe it’s important to create a culture where people feel appreciated, where they enjoy what they do and where they get an opportunity to grow.”
Weiss-Aug is getting ready to grow as well. Now in the process of expansion with 2 factories, adding another 100,000 sq. ft. and more capabilities, the Group is well positioned to continue to support customers with the smartest R&D, engineering, and manufacturing solutions.
Reflecting on the journey from nothing to a strong, stable, and growing business group, Mr Weissenrieder says: ” The success has not been just for me – it has been about success for others. I have seen people in my company developing into great engineers, having a great career, making use of the opportunities we provided. And that’s very rewarding.”
In conclusion, he acknowledges that after five decades of running his business with passion, he is getting ready to step aside and leave Weiss-Aug Group in the hands of the next generation – his daughter, son, and son-in-law. “Weiss-Aug will remain a family business. I have seen many companies taken over by investors and closing down shortly after. This will not be our case. We want to keep the family spirit, the passion, and the drive to successfully develop this business into the future.”