Cleanliness with Precision - Not Just Around the Clock

Interview with Andreas Schulz, Head of Marketing at Elma Schmidbauer GmbH

Andreas Schulz, Head of Marketing at Elma Schmidbauer GmbH
Andreas Schulz, Head of Marketing at Elma Schmidbauer GmbH

The name Elma stands for 'Electric Machines'. The globally known brand of Elma Schmidbauer GmbH in Singen has stood for the highest level of purity for 75 years - today not only in the field of watches but also in various industrial applications. Marketing manager Andreas Schulz talks in the interview with Wirtschaftsforum about an idea that became a successful brand.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Schulz, what can you tell us about the beginnings of the company and its development?

Andreas Schulz: The company was founded in 1948 by the watchmaker Hans Schmidbauer. He had developed a procedure for cleaning watches that eliminated the need to individually clean the small parts. They were now cleaned in small baskets, rinsed, and dried. This solution was time-saving and became known worldwide in the watch industry. Later, ultrasonic cleaning was introduced. In 1973, the founder's son, Manfred H. Schmidbauer, took over the company in the 2nd generation, pushed for internationalization, expanded into other industries, and continued to grow steadily. After the sudden death of Manfred H. Schmidbauer in 2014, his wife Cornelia and then in 2021, his daughter Mirja took over the management of the company as managing partners.

Elma Schmidbauer Headquarters in Singen
The Manfred H. Schmidbauer House, the headquarters of Elma Schmidbauer GmbH in Singen

Wirtschaftsforum: Where does Elma Schmidbauer stand today?

Andreas Schulz: We are a third-generation family business that employs more than 270 personnel. Our annual revenue is over 50 million EUR. Today, more than 800 partners worldwide distribute Elma ultrasonic cleaning devices. We have excellently mastered the time of the pandemic. Challenges were particularly in procurement, logistics, and price increases. In response, we optimized our internal manufacturing processes and automated them as much as possible. Besides increasing the value creation depth, we also minimized dependencies in the supply chain. We are happy that the market in the industrial cleaning sector is continuously growing and our order books, for example in plant construction, are well filled far beyond the fiscal year. AI is also a topic. For cleaning, we collect data, which we can use to further perfect the process.

Wirtschaftsforum: What products do you exactly offer?

Andreas Schulz: Under the Elma brand, we offer ultrasonic cleaning devices and, since the 1980s, complete ultrasonic cleaning systems suitable for cleaning larger parts. These systems are custom machinery for various applications in the optics and semiconductor industries, among others, where our cleaning systems seamlessly integrate into our customers' value chains. In addition to ultrasonic cleaning, steam jet cleaning is another important core competency. The in-house process laboratory and the production of our own cleaning chemicals round off the portfolio. This allows us to provide comprehensive advice to customers on their cleaning tasks.

Elma Schmidbauer Ultrasonic Cleaning System Elmasystem Evo
Ultrasonic Cleaning System Elmasystem Evo

Wirtschaftsforum: Elma Schmidbauer has turned 75 this year, making it rightly considered a traditional company. What, do you believe, are the reasons for the company's success?

Andreas Schulz: We live family spirit. Our two managing partners have, in addition to professional competence, a high level of social competence and lead the company with passion. The breadth of our portfolio, the long-standing expertise, a high depth of value creation and innovation power, as well as the entire family of Elmaners, form the pillars of our success.

Wirtschaftsforum: Finally, let's take a look into the future. What developments do you expect, and what further plans are there for the company?

Andreas Schulz: We want to continue growing. Exciting innovations are in the pipeline that need to be introduced to the market step by step in the future. The issue of demographic change and shortage of skilled workers poses a great challenge for Elma, as it does for many other companies, which we are actively addressing. With our vision 'Leading Cleaning Technology', we look extremely positive into the future despite the current turbulent times.