CEO Rhomberg Sersa
Over the last 70 years the privately owned Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group – based in both Austrian and Switzerland – has become known for delivering excellence in rail track technology, project management, and construction services.
In August, 2018 Rhomberg Sersa appointed a new CEO – Thomas Bachhofner – who previously spent 20 years at Austrian plant engineering group Andritz. He successfully boosted his former company’s profits and made it more consumer-focused, so he was a natural fit: “I was attracted to the fact that Rhomberg Sersa is privately-owned and looking for long-term success with continuous growth and a high reinvestment rate of its own profits,” Thomas says. “My international experience over the last three decades is really helping me in my role as CEO.”
The company’s history stretches back to 1886, when master builder Cornelius Rhomberg established a construction company in Bregenz, Austria, which was successfully continued by Walter and Walter-Heinz Rhomberg. Today, the Rhomberg Group is led by fourth-generation master builder Hubert Rhomberg and enjoys a global presence in the railway industry. SERSA – which stands for “Soudage électrique des rails S.A.” – was formed in 1948 and purchased by Arnold Schnyder in 1979. From the point the management was taken over by his son Konrad Schnyder in 1986, SERSA developed into the internationally active and highly respected railway specialist it is today.
As a full railway engineering service pro
vider, Rhomberg Sersa offers a complete range of services in railway construction, infrastructure, and machinery for new and existing projects. Its portfolio covers track construction, renewal, and maintenance, and the overhaul of railway tunnels through to electromechanical and technical infrastructure. Rhomberg Sersa also offers innovative products such as slab track construction systems and the SLS Sersa Second Life System®.
The company focuses on customer-oriented and tailor-made solutions for main line railways, public transportation, and industrial (private) railways, acting as a prime and general contractor in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Australia.
The company employs around 2,200 members of staff. During the 2018/19 business year, it achieved a turnover of half a billion euros in seven countries on three continents.
Thomas explains that during his budding tenure at Rhomberg Sersa, the group has already started to concentrate on three to five aspects in each company in search of excellence.
As a driven and passionate leader, he is constantly trying to find solutions, improve quality, and reduce costs: “In five to seven years we want to double our volume through both organic and inorganic growth – although organic is preferable. We’re also looking to diversify and grow our portfolio.”
One of the biggest challenges Rhomberg Sersa faces is hiring qualified people with the right attributes in the markets in which the company operates. Thomas says that building a reliable, dynamic workforce is no easy task, especially as his company plans to increase it by 60%. Add this to the fact that rail track construction, designing and planning track networks, maintenance solutions, and implementing complex railway projects require a high level of specialisation, and Rhomberg Sersa’s task of hiring and developing the right people becomes even harder.
“Our employees are the most important part of the organisation. They are even more important than our customers, who we treat like royalty “
Finding skilled people to employ in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) is not only difficult in Austria and Switzer