Technology, through which everyone is heard

Interview with Christoph Rudig and Ralf Michels, Managing Directors of Telecom Behnke GmbH

Christoph Rudig and Ralf Michels, Managing Directors of Telecom Behnke GmbH
Christoph Rudig and Ralf Michels, Managing Directors of Telecom Behnke GmbH

Communication is the foundation of human interaction. Apart from personal contact, we communicate in various ways with each other. Electronic communication is the competence of Telecom Behnke GmbH. The company, based in Kirkel, Saarland, has been developing and manufacturing modern intercoms for doors, industrial applications, and emergency calls for many decades.

"We stand for quality, are flexible, and offer modular solutions," assures Ralf Michels, who has been managing director of Telecom Behnke GmbH together with Christoph Rudig since 2023. "With us, there's nothing off-the-shelf, but rather what the customer wants. That's why personal contact is also very important to us."

With this philosophy, the company has developed excellently since its foundation more than 40 years ago and has set standards for the entire industry with innovations. Thus, the company founded in 1980 in Saarbrücken by telecommunications master Rolf Behnke started with the distribution and installation of telephone systems. Later, intercom stations as autonomous systems were added, which the company founder coupled with the telephone network. This made Rolf Behnke the inventor of the 'door intercom telephone', which enabled a voice connection inside buildings as well as the opening of doors.

Telecom Behnke Intercom of Series 50
Great design, latest technology: Intercom of Series 50

Later, emergency call systems were added, for example for subway stations or in elevators. Another milestone was in 1997 the relocation of the operation from Saarbrücken to Kirkel with the move into a new company building. Currently, the company serves four segments: door intercoms for the professional sector – also combined with mailbox systems –, emergency telephones in signal colors, elevator emergency calls, and intercoms for the industry.

Control center staffed 24/7

The Behnke Group consists of five companies. The Telecom Behnke GmbH is the sales organization within the group. Sales in France and Luxembourg are handled through the subsidiary Télécom Behnke S.A.R.L. in Forbach, France. Also part of the group is the emergency call center Behnke GmbH. Its control center, staffed around the clock, receives emergency calls from more than 20,000 connected elevator systems when necessary and organizes the quick release of trapped individuals in emergencies.

Telecom Behnke Intercom Series 50
Secure access, good communication: Intercom of the Series 50
Telecom Behnke Intercom Series 50
Combined with a mailbox: Series 50 intercom station

Telefonbau Behnke GmbH develops and manufactures intercom stations, while Behnke Service GmbH takes care of existing customer support and the acquisition of new customers. Currently, the group employs 45 people and generates a turnover of around 20 million EUR. "Our Telefonbau GmbH develops products, purchases materials, and also provides the necessary support," explains Christoph Rudig. "Some parts we also have manufactured externally by reliable partners in the region."

Own Field Service

Behnke's customers include medium-sized elevator manufacturers as well as companies like Audi or the ZF factories, clinics, and public institutions such as the German Bundestag. The marketing of the products is carried out directly through its own field staff, while also supporting wholesale. Apart from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Telecom Behnke distributes its products in France and the Benelux countries.

Through small, regional events, the company makes itself known as well as through advertising in print media, on social media, and newsletters. "Perhaps we will present ourselves at larger industry fairs again in the near future," Ralf Michels talks about the future.

Flat Hierarchies

"If desired, we can also offer remote support in consultation with our customers," Christoph Rudig mentions a way of digital support. "Internally, we have a paperless office and use the latest communication tools."

With a focus on high-quality and durable materials, Behnke also emphasizes sustainability. The same applies to the option of retrofitting older intercom stations with new components to upgrade to the latest technology. With its corporate culture, the family business relies on very flat hierarchies. Christoph Rudig: "We maintain a casual relationship with each other in the company and grant our employees as much freedom and personal responsibility as possible."

Behnke also wants to continue to operate within its niche in the coming years. Ralf Michels: "For us, the demands of our customers have the highest priority. Furthermore, we want to examine whether Artificial Intelligence can also be integrated into our intercom stations." Securing jobs for the employees even in difficult times is just as much motivation for the two managing directors as the satisfaction of the customers and the development of beautiful, new products for communication.