Pumping with Safety

Interview with Jörg Bornemann, Managing Director and Alexander Hammer, Sales Director of DICKOW PUMPEN GmbH & Co. KG

Dickow Pumpen GmbH Chemical Standard Pump
Chemical standard pump with magnetic coupling

Industrial pumps are used in a wide variety of industries. As a manufacturer of special pumps for various applications, DICKOW PUMPEN GmbH & Co. KG has been on the market for over 110 years. The family business has been based in Waldkraiburg in Upper Bavaria for almost 80 years. Managing Director Jörg Bornemann and Sales Director Alexander Hammer spoke with Wirtschaftsforum about how important decisions for the future were made recently.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Bornemann, Mr. Hammer, DICKOW PUMPEN has a long history and has survived two world wars. Which milestones were particularly important on the way to the current company?

Jörg Bornemann: The family business was founded in 1910 by Karl Dickow in the city of Gablonz, which belongs to Czech Republic today. Initially, water pipelines and heating systems were manufactured, but from 1920 – by which time the company had relocated to Görlitz – the focus shifted to automatic cattle drinking troughs and patented centrifugal pumps. After the end of the 2nd World War, a small portion of the machinery and equipment could be saved from expropriation by moving it to the West. In 1946, Carl Dickow began the rebuilding of the company in Waldkraiburg. Two years later, we moved to our current headquarters.

Jörg Bornemann, Managing Director of DICKOW Pumpen GmbH & Co. KG
Jörg Bornemann, Managing Director of DICKow Pumpen GmbH & Co. KG

Here, we have become a pioneer in the field of hermetically sealed magnetically coupled pumps, which are used in demanding areas, for example, where there is a risk of explosion or toxic substances are used. Half of our revenue, which currently exceeds 30 million EUR, is generated outside the DACH region, especially in the European economic area, in the USA and in Asia.

Wirtschaftsforum: Is the company still in the hands of the Dickow family?

Jörg Bornemann: Not directly, the company was transferred to the Astrid-Dickow Foundation at the end of 2021. This was founded by Astrid Dickow's two daughters, who themselves have no descendants. As members of the foundation board, they are still connected to the company. The transfer to the foundation was an important step for the future, as it secured the company's continued existence.

Wirtschaftsforum: What does your product portfolio look like?

Alexander Hammer, Sales Manager of DICKLY PUMPS GmbH & Co. KG
Alexander Hammer, Sales Manager of DICKLY PUMPS GmbH & Co. KG

Alexander Hammer: We offer an extensive range of high-performance pumps for various applications, especially in the chemical and petrochemical industries, but also in other sectors such as aviation, maritime, the oil and gas sector, tank storage, and also in the field of renewable energy and environmental technology. Our portfolio includes, for example, submersible pumps for tank farms and special pumps for offshore use as well as high-temperature pumps that are suitable for applications of up to 500 °C. These thermal oil pumps are our latest developments. We specialize in small batch series and fulfill very individual customer wishes. Our pumps are extremely reliable, they are characterized by process safety and long maintenance intervals - they require little to no maintenance. This is extremely important in the industry.

Wirtschaftsforum: Are there products with which DICKOW particularly stands out in the market?

Jörg Bornemann: The magnetic pump is one of our showpieces. Here, we have been pioneering since the 1980s. In the field of magnet technology, we are the market leader beyond the DACH region.

Wirtschaftsforum: What development do you see in the field of pumps?

Alexander Hammer: The development in the industry is moving towards Green Technology. In this context, our pumps are extremely important. Today, there are hardly any value chains where pumps are not in operation. The safety aspect is becoming increasingly important. The technical regulations that need to be observed are becoming more complex.

Jörg Bornemann: Our pumps are flexible and suitable for modern applications. Thus, they allow connections of various devices and provide the necessary sensor technology. We do not have a superior cloud infrastructure, as we are too small for that. Moreover, we expect that in the future there will be a superior structure that is similar for the entire industry.

Wirtschaftsforum: And how modern are you in sales?

Alexander Hammer: We continue to rely on participating in trade fairs. Since the Corona pandemic, however, we have also increasingly used social media like YouTube or LinkedIn. Our own app with Augmented Reality, DICKOW AR, offers insights into our innovative magnetic and pump technology. On our website, customers can also learn about our range of products on a digital exhibition stand and obtain spare parts via our own webshop. In addition, every DICKOW pump delivered now also carries a QR code, allowing users to quickly access digital content and services with a smartphone or tablet. We will gradually expand this offering and have numerous ideas in this regard.

Dickow Pumpen GmbH Volute Casing Pump
Volute casing pump for thermal oil applications

Wirtschaftsforum: How strongly do you feel the shortage of skilled workers and how do you address the problem?

Jörg Bornemann: Currently, we are facing not just a shortage of skilled workers, but a labor shortage in general. Therefore, we focus on in-house training. Around 20 apprentices are always employed in the company. Many employees have been with us for decades, some for up to 45 years. However, the situation today is different from before. Such long tenures will not exist in the future. The willingness to change jobs is simply greater today. We recruit new workers not only through traditional channels and social media channels. They often come because of recommendations from our employees, who benefit from a bonus in this case. Overall, we try to offer our employees a professional home in the sense of a family company, where they can feel comfortable. To this end, we offer, in addition to extraordinary compensation and flexible working hours, many amenities.

Wirtschaftsforum: Finally, can you tell us what your personal motivation for your work is?

Jörg Bornemann: I have been the first external managing director in the company since 2017. Before that, I spent a long time working in different industrial companies, also as an independent consultant. In this capacity, I also got to know DICKOW over 20 years ago. I started my professional career in a Big Five accounting firm. In the past seven years with DICKOW, I have come to know and love the company and its employees. They are highly specialized and the backbone of the company. Some have been working with us for generations and deserve a secure future in our company. After transitioning to a foundation, I want to prepare the company with our leadership team for the future so that it can last permanently. DICKOW should also become more flexible and digital.