Winterhalter, the warewashing specialist based in Meckenbeuren, Germany, is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2017. For three generations this family-run company has stood for quality and reliability in the kitchen, and over the last 70 years it has led the market with its technical innovations.
The company was founded in 1947 by Karl Winterhalter, whose first big seller was the Backhexe (baking wizard), a portable electric oven. The development of the first dishwashers took place in the family home, with a garden shed used as the workshop. Jürgen Winterhalter, son of the company founder and current joint CEO of the Winterhalter Group, remembers the testing process: “My mother used to rub plates with spinach and leave them to dry in the sun. Then we’d wash them in the machine, and they actually ended up clean. It fascinated me.” The company’s success story had begun and the GS 60 dishwasher was launched in 1959. “My father’s message to restaurants was, ‘you can have clean dishes in the shortest possible time’ – and they loved it!” says Jürgen. The popularity of the Winterhalter dishwashers led to mass production and the eventual development of additional manufacturing plants in Endingen (Germany) and Rüthi (Switzerland).
Export markets beckoned and Winterhalter opened its first foreign branch in 1967 in Holland. It was a move driven by Jürgen Winterhalter: “My passions are technology, machine development and, most importantly, internationalisation.”
Gradually further subsidiaries were established in Europe and Asia. In order to supply the Asian market more effectively, a production site was established in Rayong (Thailand) in 2015.
The ‘warewashing-through-technology’ gene was inherited by Ralph Winterhalter, grandson of the company founder and now joint CEO of Winterhalter. In his first four years he lived in the factory in Meckenbeuren – his playground was the production floor! “I have enormous respect for the achievements of my grandfather and father,” he says. “My grandfather had the courage to establish a company during hard times after the war and, with great vision, my father developed it into a top international brand.
“Every business person should have a field they are passionate about,” he adds. “Mine is the digital kitchen. Digitisation and connectivity are changing the world. We asked ourselves how we could harness digitisation to support our customers even further.”
This focus has led to Winterhalter developing its latest state-of-the-art initiative, called Next Level Solutions, which uses internet connectivity to optimise the efficiency of warewashers. “Exploiting technological advances is the way to secure our brand for the future and ensure we enjoy sustained growth and expansion,” says Ralph.
Today the company employs 1,500 employees worldwide. Approximately 40 subsidiaries, as well as numerous sales partners in countries around the world, ensure its global presence – over 75% of Winterhalter’s manufacturing output goes to export markets.