KernAktuell July 2020, News
New CEO at Alwera
Talking to Andreas Cretnik
In February 2020 the Alwera Group welcomed Andreas Cretnik, who now heads the group of companies as its new CEO.
Cretnik, who was born in Graz in 1972, attended the higher technical college HTL Graz-Gösting and then studied business management at the University of Graz (specialising in human resources and controlling) before starting his professional career at the Bilderland company in Graz. He has also worked for Energie Steiermark, Uniopt GmbH, the Styrian Chamber of Agriculture and the cooperative Steirisches Kürbiskernöl g.g.A. At the cooperative Cretnik was able to pursue his passion for regional products and set new trends; for the last ten years he has worked hard on issues relating to the Styrian oil pumpkin and European protection of origin (PGI/PDO).
ALWERA’s new CEO introduces himself
How have your first few weeks as CEO of Alwera gone? What impressions have you gained?
One of the most important tasks in the first few weeks was to get to know the staff and become more familiar with internal company processes and with the whole corporate group.
I am very pleased to find that my predecessor, Franz Seidl, has left me a committed and innovative team that works hard for our customers and suppliers every day. The noticeable solidarity and the high level of quality awareness all round is one of our Group’s key strengths.
You arrived right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic? How has it affected you personally?
The pandemic has affected us all, privately and professionally. Steering the ALWERA Group and some 300 employees safely through this time was of course a major challenge. But with a smart pandemic plan we managed not only to consider the needs of our employees and protect them but also to maintain full production and to meet the associated delivery commitments without delays.
For me personally, the absence of social contact has emphasised the importance of having an intact family and good friends. But it was still possible to keep in touch with people with the help of electronic media.
What are the first important projects on your priority list?
One of the first projects involves drawing up a new procurement strategy in order to make resource availability even more secure. The pandemic and its possible impacts is a matter of concern not only for me but also for our whole management team.
I am also working on an investment strategy for the future and keeping a lookout for strategically appropriate holdings. Our latest acquisition of a stake in the ASCON machinery company has enabled the ALWERA Group to expand its product portfolio by becoming involved in harvesting technology. Within the pumpkin sector, this puts the ALWERA Group in a position to cover the whole value chain from seed to storage.
Where do you think the Alwera Group will be in five years’ time? As CEO, what future goals have you set yourself for the Alwera Group?
I am aware of the responsibility that comes with stepping into my predecessor’s shoes and continuing on his successful path will be a challenge. One of my key goals is to make the Group fit for the future. For me that involves expanding production capacities, improving the digitalisation of the Group, expanding our product portfolio and also establishing the Group as a multi-service enterprise. We shall of course continue to be available as a reliable partner for our contract farmers, customers and suppliers. As the market leader we must aim to still be at the top in five years’ time and to continue developing that leadership position. Our team will be working on that together.
What sort of holiday will you be taking in this year’s coronavirus summer?
The coronavirus hasn’t made a big difference to my holiday plans, as I am a fan of holidays in Austria! For some years my family and I have spent a few days at Lake Faak and in Upper Styria. Holidaying in my home country enables me to fully recharge my batteries. Strengthened by regional products – which of course must include our own products – I can then embark on the second half of the year full of vim.
Ein kleiner Einblick
The biggest contract grower
of oil pumpkins PGI
Alwera AG, Estyria’s parent company, is responsible for production of the raw goods via a contract farming system. The two companies have for some years maintained the largest PDI area of oil pumpkin in Austria and they know the fields and the farmers personally.Read more
stamp press process
While modernity has brought progress in many areas, the traditional Styrian stamp press process is still the best way of making pumpkin seed oil. The main difference between this and other pressing methods is that we work with open roasting pans. At our plant, people check when the pumpkin seeds are perfectly roasted and so will yield the very best oil. This enables our experienced oil millers to produce the pumpkin seed oil that has won more prizes than any other – and which as a result of this type of pressing retains all the natural constituents. The untreated oil is not filtered; the particles that make it cloudy settle naturally when the oil is left to rest.Read more