) everywhere except North America.
Based in the southern German town of Laupheim, K?ssbohrer attributes its No. 1 status to a reputation for quality and superior customer service. With offices in all the major ski regions, the company guarantees customers that it will dispatch spare parts or a repair person within 24 hours. "It's important for the customer to know that when it snows, [the machines] work," says CFO Rolf Glessing, who, with CEO Gebhard Schwarz, 46, constitutes the company's board.
Founded in 1969 as a unit of the busmaker of the same name, K?ssbohrer had its big breakthrough in 1972, when PistenBully machines groomed the slopes for the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo. The snow-grooming unit was spun off in 1994. While K?ssbohrer is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, a few big shareholders own 90% of the equity, and the remaining shares are thinly traded.
Almost all of K?ssbohrer's sales come from snow-grooming vehicles, which renders it vulnerable to the weather and the ups and downs of winter tourism. Net profit for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 fell by one-third, to $5.2 million, due mostly to the global tourism slump. But Glessing says that the narrow focus is an advantage against Bombardier, which also makes boats, outboard motors, and snowmobiles. The market may be flat, but PistenBullies are still charging uphill. By Jack Ewing in Frankfurt