We need deter­mi­na­tion to be successful

Company founder Gerhard Sturm talking in an inter­view about future oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for ebm-papst

Mr. Sturm, you can look back on 50 years of pros­perity. What is the secret of ebm-papst’s success?

Our constant efforts to keep moving forward – both with regard to the company and our prod­ucts. Ever since I founded ebm together with Heinz Ziehl, our company philos­ophy has always remained the same: Every new product must be ecolog­i­cally and conom­i­cally supe­rior to its prede­cessor. And so we would never dream of resting on our laurels. On the contrary, we should be looking ahead to the next 50 years. We will only be able to main­tain our current rate of growth if we continue to develop new, highly inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts.

What does that mean in concrete terms?


Looking back on 50 years of pros­perity – and into the future: Company founder Gerhard Sturm

The whole area of system solu­tions has gained tremen­dously in signif­i­cance for us. After acquiring the specialist gear company Zeit­lauf, our plant in St. Georgen is now in a posi­tion to provide complete drive systems including gear units and control elec­tronics. This means we are able to compete with low-cost manu­fac­turers in the Far East. In Land­shut we are seeing clear signs of a similar devel­op­ment towards system solu­tions including gas valve tech­nology and elec­tronics. We must however also consider the possi­bility of offering system solu­tions for customers above and beyond our regular product port­folio. Not just from the point of view of the added value, but also to guar­antee the use of our prod­ucts. If we were to provide control techno­logy for other compo­nents as well – for example in the refrig­er­a­tion compressor sector – we could consid­er­ably expand our elec­tronics produc­tion. We should however also bear in mind large fans for indus­trial appli­ca­tions like those we are already manu­fac­turing in Hollen­bach. Or fans and motors required to satisfy highly specific demands – for instance in explo­sion-proof devices as used nowa­days in the petro­chem­i­cals industry. The main thing is to broaden our hori­zons whilst at the same time main­taining close contact with our customers.

50_Jahre_ebmpapst_578The first ec motor, a fleet of company buses and the Federal order of merit for Gerhard Sturm.

Discover slightly different facts about the history of ebm-papst.

Allow me to use the following image to explain my idea: I see ebm-papst as a large tanker in the midst of a group of smaller, more manoeu­vrable ships and boats. All are largely free to travel the seven seas and dock at all the world’s harbours. But: All the ships and boats regu­larly come back to the ebm-papst mother ship to report on their jour­neys and plans and present the results of their work. Experts call this divi­sion­al­i­sa­tion. This devel­op­ment has been coming for years. And since every ship needs a captain and a crew, there are plenty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for moti­vated employees to climb up the ladder.

On which inter­na­tional markets will ebm-papst be inten­si­fying its activ­i­ties in the future?

We are still working on getting ourselves estab­lished in the USA. The trend towards energy saving has been a help – as it enabled us to diver­sify into various sectors. One new outlet is the market for preci­sion climate control tech­nology in data centres. Prod­ucts from St. Georgen have already achieved some initial, albeit modest success in the Amer­ican auto­mo­tive industry. The major obstacle to resounding success in the USA over the past 30 years has been the dollar exchange rate. Compe­ti­tion in China is fierce, but we are never­the­less aiming to achieve substan­tial growth by tailoring our busi­ness to the demands of the market. For example our new, ultra-modern devel­op­ment centre in Shanghai will help us react even better to the require­ments of local compa­nies in future. We are equally convinced of the poten­tial offered by the Indian market and have invested in a new, high-perfor­mance factory in Chennai to enable us to supply Asian coun­tries even more effi­ciently. A deci­sion which to this day has proven its worth. So I am expecting ebm-papst to carry on growing in India as well.

All-in-all that sounds as if there are plenty more chal­lenges waiting for ebm-papst.

That is true, but I don’t have any worries about ebm-papst! The chal­lenges we are currently facing are nothing other than normal growth prob­lems. We just need to do our home­work. Let’s not forget that we are already in an excel­lent posi­tion throughout. In future success will not neces­sarily depend on having “better” prod­ucts, it will be a matter of getting on the market first. And to do that, a company needs a highly moti­vated team prepared to go through thick and thin. We need total commit­ment to success! Our outstanding work­force is our most valu­able asset. ebm-papst remains a family busi­ness and that is how we intend to keep it. The posi­tive spirit of the early days still lives on. When all said and done, there is no law which says that anonymity has to increase with the size of a company and that the human aspect has to suffer. I am pleased to see the current manage­ment upholding the spirit of the ebm-papst family. After all it makes good sense: What is good for the company is good for its employees.

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