Eibenstock: Power that brings the walls downPublished 28/12, 2016 at 16:29
Life of East Germans in the 20th century was fraught with tragedy and hardship. Many businesses were blown off the map by the wind of change, but Eibenstock survived and prospered. Andrei Bushmarin reports.
When the bloodiest conflict in human history was over, they found themselves trapped behind the Berlin Wall. After a moment of rejoicing when it finally came down in 1989, the country was faced with a herculean task of reintegrating the Eastern provinces. At this point companies from East Germany found themselves at a disadvantage to their western counterparts.
Eibenstock is both the name of the locality in Saxony at the boarder with the Czech Republic and that of its biggest employer. This is a tranquil area full of pine forests and hot springs. It was in these idyllic surroundings that one of Germany’s leading manufacturers of power tools set up its headquarters as the World War II was winding down.
A hundred-year history
Eibenstock was founded as a private company in Leipzig in 1919 by Martin Hönnecke and in 1944 moved its operations to Eibenstock. The GDR was a secretive state, so little is known about Eibenstock progress under the communist regime.. But it was the first manufacturer in the country to design a hand-held polisher featuring a 60° gearbox in 1952.
Another milestone came in 1960 when Eibenstock became the first company in the GDR to start producing impact drills on an industrial scale. As the planned economy dictated, Eibenstock was nationalized in 1972 with the task of producing high-quality power tools for professional users. The company lived up to the government’s expectations by making its brand famous in the country and beyond. The manufacturer regularly won awards at international exhibitions in Leipzig and Moscow.
A new chapter in Eibenstock’s history began in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent disintegration of the Eastern Bloc. This moment in history was difficult for everyone living in the so-called post-Soviet space, but it was also a time for opportunity for those who were ready to embrace the changes. Lothar Lässig was such a man. A sanitary engineer by education, he had worked for Eibenstock for a few years before becoming its managing director, or the operations director as it was then called in the GDR in 1984.
When the Berlin Wall fell and the new economic reality emerged, Lässig made a bold move to re-privatise the company. This decision took vision and guts, but as a passionate and successful practitioner of Greco-Roman wrestling for over 20 years, Lässig possessed both in abundance. So in 1993 amidst the chorus of doomsday predictions, Lässig, with a staff of 24, set about reinventing the company.
Ever since Lässig took the helm, Eibenstock’s business kept growing at an average annual rate of 10%. In 1994, the manufacturer expanded the existing factory by adding a new workshop. In the early 2000s, Eibenstock diversified into the diamond drilling business when it took over local company Vakuum Technik, which specialised in making drill stands for core drilling systems and various customized machinery.
Around that time Eibenstock also opened a new production area for drill motors and a hardening shop. In 2004, the company commissioned another production unit in the neighbouring Morgenröthe, which had its own foundry.
In 2012 Eibenstock made headlines when it announced a takeover of Dr. Bender, a prominent German manufacturer of high-frequency motors and drilling and sawing systems. This move allowed Eibenstock to gain a foothold in the segment of high-frequency equipment. Two years later the company further expanded its facilities by opening a new production hall for drill motors. Over the course of the last 23 years Eibenstock has invested €25M in expansions and acquisitions.
Power tools for every task
Power tools have been Eibenstock’s core business for almost a century. Over this period the manufacturer has accumulated a wealth of experience in tool making and has built a comprehensive portfolio of equipment. It ranges from hand-held and rig-based drilling systems to grinding, polishing and milling machines to mixing stations, sanders and industrial vacuum cleaners.
In accordance with the company’s stringent quality control policy, over 90% of components used in Eibenstock power tools are made at its own facilities in Germany. Eibenstock particularly excels with drill motors. Eibenstock motors, for wet and dry applications, incorporate features, such as metal gearbox, cutting-edge electronics, optical overload indication, temperature control, overcurrent cut-off, a service LED indicator, a mechanical safety clutch and an integrated dust extraction/water supply connection. An inbuilt locking switch allows for continuous operation in the rig-based mode.
Although concrete sawing and drilling specialists are probably the most important target group for Eibenstock, they are not the only one. Plumbers, electricians, soil remediation specialists, landscape constructors and stonemasons could also benefit from Eibenstock solutions.
Big and growing
The Eibenstock group currently has 500 employees worldwide, with 350 working at the German facilities. The company’s products are sold in over 70 countries. In Europe, the biggest consumers are Western and Central European countries, Scandinavia, the UK and Italy.
India has a particular significance for Eibenstock as in 2010, the company entered a joint venture agreement with the Indian company Positron to distribute Eibenstock machinery in this fast-growing market.
North America is another important market and has been present since 1997 when it joined with Connecticut-based CS Unitec to promote Eibenstock products. CS Unitec has proved to be very successful after nearly 20 years of cooperation, and remains the exclusive distributor of Eibenstock products in the US. Now the German manufacturer is looking at South America for further growth.
As for internal expansion, the company has invested €3.1M in a customer education and training centre in Eibenstock. The project is underway with completion expected within two years. The company is also continuing with product development and is focusing on designing high-frequency equipment for construction applications.