The multi-story brick building lines almost the entire street. Ivy winds its way up between round-arched windows, white smoke rises from the slender chimneys next to the railroad tracks. On the other side of the courtyard, which is adorned with a circular paved “W” emblem, a wide staircase leads up to the entrance portal of a stuccoed villa. Between the two imposing buildings ducks a small gatehouse with the inscription: “Welcome to the world of Weyermann specialty malts.” The listed malting plant would no doubt be the perfect movie set for an industrial saga from the last century. But in fact, today it houses state-of-the-art technology and logistics. From here, Weyermann, the market leader in specialty malts, supplies individual brewing malts to over 135 countries around the world.
Custom brewing malts for 135 countries
The wide-open iron gates to the right and left of the gatehouse send a clear message: visitors are always welcome here (unless Corona restricts it)! Just as open as the entrance gate is the spirit that runs through the company. And one woman in particular embodies it in an inimitable way: Managing Director Sabine Weyermann. At the age of 27, shortly after completing her studies in brewing and beverage engineering in Freising, she took over the company in 1985. For four generations, it has already been in the hands of her family. She has established the company as a world market leader thanks to her entrepreneurial skills and her return to the core competence of specialty malts. Today, the product range comprises over 85 types of malt. In consultation with customers, Weyermann also develops individual brewing malts entirely according to their wishes and needs. This is how the traditional malt house from Bamberg influences the taste of countless beer varieties around the globe.
Sabine Weyermann is characterized by her tireless pioneering spirit. This is something she has also learned from the Americans. Together with her husband Thomas Kraus-Weyermann, who has also been a member of the management team since 1991, she traveled to the USA in the 1990s. There she got to know the craft beer world. She was particularly impressed by the creativity, courage, and enthusiasm of American self-made brewers, and she immediately recognized the potential for her company. The emerging craft beer scene in the USA was accompanied by a growing demand for high-quality, special malts – including expert advice. Establishing a high-performance distribution network in the USA was the biggest challenge for the Upper Franconian family business, because here, too, the company boss’s unwavering principle was: “Our customers must be able to rely on us at all times.
“Listening very closely to the customer”
The export market, which today accounts for a respectable share of sales, has given Weyermann a major growth boost in recent decades. With around 57 sales partners around the globe, including ten large distribution centers in the USA alone, the family-owned company from Upper Franconia has long since become an established brand in the export business. It delivers its malt to the farthest corners of the globe – from the Lofoten Islands to Mongolia. Sabine Weyermann explains the secret of her success as follows: “We always listen very closely to our customers. And we respond to their individual wishes and needs at all times.”
This already starts with the fact that Weyermann also delivers the required raw materials in manageable units. After all, most new breweries are still quite small. “To make handling easier – not every microbrewery has a forklift – we also have 25-kilo bags,” emphasizes Sabine Weyermann, who is just as happy to help the small craft beer brewer with his first steps as the experienced brewing giant.
The decisive factor for her in every respect is a “super close contact with the customer”. It is the prerequisite for being able to provide intensive advice and develop individual brewing malts for each customer. ” This way, we help him to create a beer with which he can create a unique selling proposition.” To achieve this, Weyermann has built up a sophisticated infrastructure within the company over the years. This ranges from a 15-person laboratory team to the company’s own experimental malt house and brewery. “We have a strong, competent team in all areas,” Sabine Weyermann emphasizes.
International flavor inspiration for custom brewing malts
The team concept is the foundation of the company’s philosophy. For the 63-year-old company boss, diversity is a value that has been practiced at Weyermann for many years. On the company’s Facebook page, you can read joyful baby news about the corporate family as well as affectionate birthday greetings to the brewery employee from Guatemala, the cleaner from Turkey, or the maltster apprentice from Eritrea. The 260 employees from 16 nations are also a colorful mix in terms of age and gender. For Sabine Weyermann, this is precisely the key to success: “Thanks to our Franconian-international team, we know the most diverse tastes and preferences. This know-how helps us develop unique brewing malts for our customers.”
In addition to reliable and punctual delivery, Weyermann attaches great importance to the consistently high quality of its products. To this end, the company relies on its own brewing barley cultivation program. The 500 farmers who have been supplying Weyermann for many decades are all personally known to the boss. So does the bag or pallet manufacturer. “We audit all our suppliers. Everywhere it says ‘Weyermann’ on it, our highest quality standards apply.” After all, the company’s claim is no less than to be “a reliable constant in the lives of all brewers.”
Always one step ahead of the industry
Daughter Franziska is also dedicated to ensuring that Weyermann is always one step ahead of the industry. Since 2017, she has been working in the company representing the fifth generation. Just as it was important to her parents, it is also important to her that the traditional company stays up to date. That is why, for example, she is currently having all internal documents gendered, is looking for energy-efficient production solutions and is tinkering with digital options on the way to a paperless company.
Franziska Weyermann does not see the century-old family business as a burden, but rather as a “solid anchor. It is therefore out of the question that she will one day follow in her mother’s footsteps. Even though the global pandemic has recently presented the company with completely new challenges, including in the area of transport logistics, this has not dampened Franziska’s motivation. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is due in no small part to the optimism and pioneering spirit that her mother knows how to convey, even in difficult times. Sabine Weyermann’s advice to all customers, colleagues in the industry, and family entrepreneurs is therefore also from the bottom of her heart: “Tell the next generation more about the opportunities than about the difficulties!”