"Customers get what suits the children!"

Interview with Julian Richter Jr., Managing Associate of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH

Richter Spielgeräte project in Egypt

The child, with its needs and possibilities, is always the focus. This is how the philosophy of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH can be described in a nutshell. The family business from Frasdorf in Upper Bavaria is known for durable and high-quality products that challenge children and stimulate their creativity. Founded by Hilde Richter, the grandmother of today's managing director, the entire team of play experts commits afresh every day to creating play worlds in the best interests of children.

“Our customers get what suits the children and what they can enjoy for as long as possible,” describes Julian Richter Jr., the managing partner of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, the company’s standard. “While the competition is often driven by price pressure, we make no compromises.”

Since the company was founded in 1966, its history has been characterized by a focus on children. Hilde Richter oriented towards warm materials and a pleasant environment. Play equipment was supposed to offer a sense of security and create a place of well-being. Her son, Julian Richter, implemented her ideas with some friends in a former village smithy. Within a few years, demand increased rapidly and the company continued to develop steadily.

Julian Richter Jr., Managing Partner of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH
Julian Richter Jr., Managing Partner of Richter Spielgeräte GmbH

Eight years ago, Julian Richter handed over the company to his son and retired completely from the business four years ago. Today, the Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, which is 100% family-owned, employs 130 staff and generates a revenue of 24 million EUR. The playground equipment is exclusively manufactured at the company's headquarters in Frasdorf. Smaller carpentries, sawmills, and a metalworking company from the region supply the raw material and individual parts.

More and more projects

About 25 years ago, the entire range, including little houses, towers, and seesaws, was summarized in one catalog. However, a change occurred at the beginning of the 2000s, and since then, custom solutions have also been in focus. "Our customers increasingly wish for custom constructions," observes the managing director. "We are happy to accommodate this, as we possess great craftsmanship skills and are flexible."

Richter Play Equipment Trough Slide
And off we go: trough slide
Judges - Playground Equipment Okoboji-Ship in the American Iowa
Like a Mississippi steamboat: Okoboji-Ship in the American Iowa

Over time, the range of clients has also expanded. Whereas it used to be almost exclusively municipalities, which still account for around 80%, today it often includes architects, private investors, and hotels, as well as projects from major donors. Richter Spielgeräte realizes more than half of all projects in the DACH region, another 30% in the rest of Europe, and the remaining projects on other continents such as the USA, Australia, or the Arab countries.

Frasdorfer Dialogues

In Germany, commercial agents take care of sales, while abroad, partner companies work exclusively with the Bavarian specialists. For marketing, the company with the snail as its slow but persistent 'emblem' relies on catalogs, trade fairs at home and abroad, social media, advertisements in trade magazines, and sponsoring industry events.

"From the beginning, we wanted to make wood tangible for children," explains Julian Richter Jr. "This also involves ensuring that children engage with a play equipment for as long as possible. In the interest of designing play equipment as child-friendly as possible, we are a member of the International Play Association (IPA), a network that has been advocating for children's right to play since 1961 and whose events we also actively support." Additionally, the company regularly organizes the so-called Frasdorfer Dialogues, where specialists from various disciplines can exchange ideas, contributing to a continuous improvement process.

Judge - Playground Equipment Project in Luxembourg
Adventure from house to house: Project in Luxembourg

Comprehensively Sustainable

In terms of sustainability, Richter Spielgeräte focuses not only on wood as the preferred material from the region but also ensures that the play equipment is easy to maintain and repair. Electricity is exclusively generated using hydropower, heating is provided with wood chips, and the installation of a photovoltaic system has been commissioned. Sustainability also applies to the relationship with employees, whose turnover is low and often several family members work in the company.

"In the coming years, we want to maintain our values and our philosophy and meet the requirements that the international project market sets for us," says Julian Richter Jr. "For us, play, courage, and risk continue to be interconnected. We believe that increasing digitalization removes people from their basic competencies."