Spectra is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What does that mean to you personally? What are you particularly proud of?
For me, it means first and foremost being very satisfied with the fact that, despite occasional severe adversities in the economic environment, we have always managed to be in the black and to grow continuously on our own. I am particularly proud that over 40 years we have always been able to offer our employees secure jobs. We have never been forced to make compulsory lay-offs.
Tell us, how did everything start in 1982? What were the decisive impulses for the foundation of Spectra?
It all started in 1982 with the takeover of an agency for the products of the English company Intercole Systems Ltd. The products of this company were computer-aided high-precision measuring systems with which I had worked intensively in my previous job at a state institution. The company's products were called Spectra. So what could be more obvious than to call the new company Spectra GmbH?
I came to appreciate Spectra measuring systems very much as a user and was sure that they would have excellent market opportunities in Germany. Spectra GbmH was therefore founded as a sales company for the measuring systems of Intercole Systems Ltd.
Have you ever regretted the step into self-employment?
In the end, never. However, during the first few years, doubts arose here and there. During that time there was practically no family life. A 12-14 hour working day, often on weekends, was the rule. Missing capital had to be replaced by working hours. That makes you wonder. Is it worth it for once?
In its anniversary year, Spectra presents itself as an agile, economically sound medium-sized company. What were the most important milestones and what were the biggest challenges?
The most important milestones were certainly the start of production of customised industrial PC systems, the move to our new spacious company building in Reutlingen and the founding of a subsidiary in Taiwan. Today we are only a minority shareholder there, but we still have a great influence on the development and production of excellent, high-quality PCs suitable for industrial use.
In 40 years of management, you have realised countless projects in different industries. Was there a particularly exciting project that you remember?
We actually realised the most "exciting" projects in the first 15 years of our company's history. At that time, we carried out numerous projects in the field of test bench automation. We supplied the customer with computers, measuring equipment and peripheral devices and wrote the software necessary for carrying out test runs.
I can still remember a particularly exciting project at a Swabian manufacturer of water pumps. A colleague and I were once again on site to get the software running on the test bench. Time passed, it got dark, 18:00, 22:00, finally it was 4:00 in the morning when we finished. The factory hall was locked, no shouting helped. We left the company through a window and over the fence.
"powered by individuality" is the current company slogan. What meaning does this phrase have for you and what do you think distinguishes Spectra from the competition?
The slogan should express that we stand for individual solutions. It means: "Dear customer, we make the right system for your individual task". Few competitors are in a position to deliver high-quality, individually adapted systems in small quantities quickly and at a reasonable price.
Spectra GmbH & Co. KG has been run by three managing directors for several years. They have taken part-time retirement. In doing so, they have regained something precious: Time. What do you most like to do with your free time today?
Golf is a very favourite hobby, occasionally in combination with a trip. Then, at an advanced age, I took my recreational boating licence and bought a boat that now wants to be moved. Well, and then there's an ultralight aircraft...
What does the future hold for Spectra, what challenges, tasks or projects does the company face?
A company that is active in the technical environment is permanently faced with numerous challenges. If only because the technical environment changes very quickly. You have to keep up with it. Equally challenging are always problems with the supply chains. Here, too, it is always necessary to develop the right strategy. Another really big challenge is the lack of skilled workers. Here Spectra is in competition with the big players in the metal and electrical industry. It is important to present Spectra as an attractive employer.
Incidentally, the next growth step is now on the agenda. The 40 million turnover target is being tackled. The corresponding steps must be planned for 2022. The management is already working intensively on this.
If you had one wish for your company, what would it be?
That the next 40 years be just as successful as the last.