Shorrock and ifm split after three decades of success

April 2008 News

Shorrock Automation was established in South Africa in 1975 as a company specialising in process control and factory automation. It became the local representative of ifm electronic in 1978 and has distributed the company's products since then.

Today, Shorrock is one of South Africa's leading suppliers of industrial networking systems and industrial sensors. In fact, Shorrock's success with the ifm range of products has seen the company invest in people and skills over the years to the extent that ifm has become the primary product Shorrock sells and supports.

In March 2008, however, Shorrock and ifm parted ways because ifm made the decision to establish a direct local presence. The company is already directly present in over 40 countries, with representation in over 70. The ifm decision was also made at a time when the Shorrock founders and co-owners were heading to retirement in New Zealand.

The decision was therefore made to split Shorrock and ifm. Michael Pitschlitz, MD and now the full shareholder of Shorrock will take up the position of MD of ifm electronic SA, while Chris Huxham, Shorrock's current marketing manager will assume the position of MD.

Michael Pitschlitz
Michael Pitschlitz

Chris Huxham
Chris Huxham

The split has been planned for over a year and is amicable. In fact, both companies will still share the same premises and operating processes for the short term, until their growth forces them to move to new premises - which, judging by the numbers produced to date, will not be too long in coming. Over the past 16 years, Shorrock has posted an average of 28,5% annual growth rate.

No jobs have been lost as the ifm experts at Shorrock have simply been moved into the new company. Shorrock has retained the expertise relating to its new product line.

Pitschlitz says the reason for taking a year to plan the split was to ensure that customers of both companies do not feel even the slightest disruption. For the immediate future, the companies will even share the same phone number to ensure a smooth transition.

Therefore, while ifm electronic will now deal with all ifm distribution business in South Africa, Shorrock will focus on building the market for its other products. Huxham says the Wago line of products will be the main offering, backed up by a few more products chosen for their reliability and quality.

The range of products Shorrock now offers includes:

Wago: A range of terminal connectors and relay modules including a full range of remote I/O system solutions.

eWON: Programmable industrial routers (PIR) built on Internet technology. eWon's products enable full connectivity of TCP/IP towards industrial devices such as PLCs, test and measurement equipment, camera systems, analysers, industrial refrigerators, etc, using Modbus, Unitelway and other protocols.

Pro-face: Pro-face provides a broad spectrum of products and services, from the development and manufacture of human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software.

ReeR: A range of safety light barriers for automation and control applications.

Pitschlitz says he would like to keep the new ifm growing at around 15% for the next two to three years, above the ifm global annual growth target of 10%. ifm SA will therefore retain the skills that established the brand in South Africa to ensure customers can continue as before dealing with the same people and with no disruptions, while Shorrock will enhance and improve its skills base with respect to its current product range as it grows its local market presence.

For more information contact Celia de Beer, ifm electronic SA, +27 (0)12 345 4449,

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