Two Cultures, One Spirit

Interview with Christian Fritz, Managing Director of CTEK Smart Chargers GmbH

CTEK Smart Chargers portable charger CS Free
The portable CS Free charger works simply everywhere

The mobility revolution is in full swing. High fuel prices and increased environmental awareness are driving demand for alternative vehicle drives. CTEK Smart Chargers GmbH from Hannover is directly affected by this paradigm shift. The Swedish brand stands for innovative battery charging solutions for vehicles – classic combustion engines and electric vehicles.

CTEK is a Swedish company that has been making its mark on the market with technologically advanced battery chargers for 27 years. The battery charging specialist employs 230 people worldwide, has offices in the USA, Australia, and China, and has been listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange since 2021. Since 2017, it has had an office in Hanover, where a team of ten employees focuses on the DACH region and the Benelux countries.

For the past five years, Christian Fritz, an internationally experienced managing director, has been working for CTEK in Hanover. "Before I came to CTEK, I was already working in international sales, but I was not from the industry," he says. "I find working internationally and building up a completely new branch exciting and enriching."

Christian Fritz, Managing Director of CTEK Smart Chargers GmbH
Christian Fritz, Managing Director of CTEK Smart Chargers GmbH

Ready for the Change

CTEK has made a name for itself with a broad product range of 12-V and 24-V battery chargers. Now, the company also offers charging solutions for electric vehicles. "We are working in an industry where a change in thinking is currently taking place," says Christian Fritz. "Moving away from the classic combustion engine, towards alternative drives. Against this background, we have to ask ourselves where we want to go in the long term. While we assume that combustion engines will not disappear from the market completely in the next 25 to 30 years, we are also focusing on electric vehicles. Therefore, in 2018, CTEK acquired a company in Sweden that manufactures chargers for electric cars. Not many know that electric vehicles also have classic 12-V starter batteries and need chargers to recharge them. Starter batteries will also be needed in the future."

CTEK Smart Chargers Charger CS Free
CS Free – a discharged battery is recharged in just 15 minutes

Simply Safe

CTEK is the epitome of a Swedish brand. The company is an industry leader and experienced a significant boost during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the brand is to be positioned even more strongly in the market. As a market leader, CTEK aims to constantly evolve technologically and set benchmarks with innovative solutions. Representing the strong spirit of innovation and technological competence is the emergency device CS Free, a charger with an internal battery suitable for starting a vehicle with a dead battery.

A major plus is the ease of use; the device does not require power, and dead batteries are ready to start after 15 minutes. The practical all-in-one solution can be connected to a solar panel and also serves as a high-tech power bank for charging USB devices. A true flagship product is CS ONE – a classic charger that, unlike others, is reverse polarity protected and thus easy and safe to use for everyone – two black clamps will always be automatically connected correctly. The devices are distributed to end customers through distributors. "We are in the B2B business and mainly work with wholesalers," explains Christian Fritz. "The collaboration goes far beyond mere product delivery. For example, we support our customers in terms of marketing, supplying them with brochures, catalogs, or magazines."

Innovative Out of Tradition

CTEK plays a pioneering role in the market. Setting accents with technological innovations is in the company's DNA. The founder of CTEK developed the first microprocessor-controlled charger – "at the time a major development step," as Christian Fritz emphasizes. "CTEK has always ensured that the products are beneficial for the batteries and simultaneously reliable. Our return rate is below one percent; a clear sign of quality."

CTEK Smart Chargers CS One
CS ONE - no matter where the clamps are connected, the charging works
CTEK Smart Chargers CS Free
CS Free with clamps; the charger can also be connected to a solar panel

Mediator Between Worlds

Christian Fritz sees himself in his role not so much as a technical innovator but rather as a mediator between worlds. "Of course, we need to set technological impulses and build new structures in sales to expand our market presence," he says. "The German and Swedish mentalities are very different; therefore, one of the main challenges is developing understanding for one another. The Swedish corporate philosophy is characterized by pragmatic values that are not empty phrases. Certain mechanisms work very well. An example is the enormous helpfulness among employees. This social component plays a central role in Swedish culture. We would like to maintain this Swedish mentality, the social and solid, also in Germany."

For Christian Fritz, this intercultural aspect is an important driving force for his work. "When I notice that I have made a difference, it motivates me," he says. "It's not enough for me to just do my job; I want to make an impact and leave a mark. I can't do this alone, but only together with a team. Success only comes when the teamwork works. This is no different in a company than in sports; there are many parallels; for example, discipline. If you want to achieve something, you have to train; in sports as in a profession. The learning process never ends."

Outstanding Work

On the basis of these beliefs, CTEK is working to continue developing groundbreaking products and to gain a foothold in new markets like the United Kingdom and France. That CTEK was recently nominated by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce at a highly prestigious festive gala as one of the three best Swedish companies shows that CTEK is on the right path.