Leadership Spotlight: Q&A with Stefan Greimel

Stefan Greimel is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tribotecc GmbH. Based in Arnoldstein, Austria, Tribotecc is a global market and technology leader of high-performance metal sulfide solutions for the friction industry.  As functional additives, they are used in brake pads and clutch facings as well as in lubricants, polymers, powder metallurgy, abrasives, batteries and within a variety of other fields.

Tribotecc has gained world leadership in technology and innovation. The company develops, manufactures and distributes both synthetic and natural metal sulfides using a unique, patented synthetic manufacturing process.

What is your current role and area of responsibility?

Since September 2019 I am Managing Director and CEO of Tribotecc located in Austria, the world’s leading manufacturer of special metal sulfides, widely used as additives in brake pads and clutch facings as well as in a variety of other exciting fields. We are a proud member of the Austrian Treibacher Group, which develops and manufactures ferro alloys for the steel and foundry industries, powders for the carbide industry, materials for high performance ceramics and fine chemicals and special alloys.

How would you describe your work/leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?

Open-minded, committed, collaborative, accessible, but also persistent about performance. In practice that means, decent in tone, but hard in facts. While this can be challenging for some people at times this always worked well for me because people eventually recognize commitment and dedication and honor frank and straight-forward communication. 

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What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?

Certainly to maintain our highest quality standards in every aspect of our business and best-in-class service for our customers. At the same time, we must address our right positioning in the competition, where we continuously must highlight our outstanding value proposition.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I am open and curious, on a daily basis. Traveling, reading of all sorts of books and magazines gives a large amount of inspiration – but in particular by driving diversity, talking with people with different perspectives, from same and other industries, e.g. from the high-tech electronics industry where I am coming from, different countries and cultures.

How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?

The industry is changing at a pace we probably have not seen before, where several major trends kick in at the same time. Even the greatest experts have difficulties to make predictions and therefore I will also be careful with speculative statements.

However, what is obvious to us is that electronic vehicles and autonomously driving cars will still depend on conventional friction brakes over the next decade: The friction brake will remain the emergency brake system, electronic stability programs will activate conventional friction brakes in order to reduce the loss of steering control. But we are attentive – and stay hungry, to see what’s behind the next curve.

What is the major challenge(s) facing Tribotecc now, in the near term and the long term?

We definitely see some technological challenges and how to address fundamental changes together with our customers, from near to long term i.e. in particular

  • The goal of less frictional wear (pad, disc) and release into the environment will have an impact on the formulation type and substances used in the friction brake.
  • REACH: We continue to be very attentive and provide our customers certainty when it comes to regulatory compliance.
  • Copper substitution in disc brake pads (0%) requires continuous development and approval of new friction material formulations.
  • Tackle solutions for electronic vehicle brake systems: less or no NVH, less or no corrosion, alternatives to conventional friction brakes (substitution or downsizing of brake disc and brake pad).

What are the best opportunities for the company?

Close contact to customers along the supply chain including OEMs, positioning and using our great capabilities in research & joint development. That very much helps to build a full understanding of customer problems and to focus our product development already at an early stage. Tribotecc is open for new ideas and challenges and we continuously further develop our strategic approach to verify the best opportunities for Tribotecc and our customers – and we have the right capacities, capabilities, and people to implement them with our clients.  

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Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your organization.

Tribotecc does not only have the biggest production capacities for special metal sulfides but is also capable of testing products and developments in an integrated tribological application laboratory. Disc brake pads based on new formulations are manufactured with state of the art mixing-, pressing-, curing- devices and tested on our own in-house dynamometers. Wear and analytical investigation of disc and pad, studies on friction performance or basic NVH measurements follow international testing standards.

In a nutshell: We have outstanding expertise in our company, where another unknown fact is that we look back to long successful history: The origins of our manufacturing site in Austria date back to the 14th century – when mining started there – and the core of the company is nearly 100 years old!    

What do you look for when evaluating top talent?

Selecting the right people & talents is the most challenging and rewarding task a manager has to take care of. However, the basic rules are simple and well known: I am looking for three main characteristics, i.e. intelligence, energy – and integrity. It is this combination of these three factors that make great talent. The last one might be forgotten sometimes, but it is crucial – you don’t want smart people working with great drive, but without integrity.

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Be bold. If you don’t go in the deep water, you won’t learn to swim.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.