The time is right for Grässlin
Grässlin began as a producer of time switch technological solutions, which can be applied to a number of industrial and domestic situations, and has expanded rapidly throughout its history.
Established in 1956 by Dieter Grässlin, the company was one of the first businesses to develop widely used industry standards, such as plastic gears within time switch products. General Electric (GE) acquired the company in 2000, yet it was Intermatic’s purchase of Grässlin on June 1st 2006 that allowed the German-based business to develop and further its own brand image.
Managing director Henk Vrijheid outlines the various technological solutions that Grässlin produces: “The products that we focus on manufacturing and selling are different types of time switches, including many standards within the industry. We develop both analogue and digital time switches, which differ in the channels they use, ranging from one to six general versions. Grässlin is a renowned producer of timers, and we create both simple timers dealing with one setting, to more complex models known as annual timers, that can deal with 800 programming positions. Alongside this area of business, we also make thermostats and chronothermostats, which are used in room heating applications. These products are combined with our existing time switch technology, which can be typically seen in housing environments.”
Henk continues by elaborating on the impact of the company’s second acquisition in 2006: “The major benefit of Intermatic’s takeover is that they also grew from being a family-owned company, so our values are on the same wavelength. Another major factor for Grässlin is that Intermatic treats timers and switches as its core industry, so we have their total support within the market. GE was a very broad electronics organisation, and we have found that working with Intermatic has been more focused, as well as mutually beneficial. As it stands, Intermatic has a slight amount of activity outside the US, particularly in Mexico and China, so we will help in creating an advantageous position within Europe. Grässlin now has an international focus, with around 80 per cent of its products being sold outside of Germany, selling all the way from Australia, through the United States, and into Latin America.”
Selling timer and switch solutions to customers in diverse business sectors such as the heating, plug manufacturing, and swimming pool industries requires the company to be at the forefront of technological developments. To ensure this, the organisation has created a technology centre in Spain, which houses ten of its engineers. Henk explains the development: “These engineers are fully dedicated to developing innovations within our business – some of them transferred from GE to us, and others we have brought in from elsewhere. This Spanish centre is at the cutting edge technologically, and focuses all of its capabilities on developing and designing new products.
“It is always important for Grässlin to invest in developing new products, and programmes that will stimulate this design stage,” Henk continues. “This process always takes up a large amount of time and resources, and one of the key strengths of the company is our injection moulding shop and full operational assembly line that we have located in Germany, employing around 200 people. This production line focuses specifically on manufacturing mechanical time switches that use synchronous and quartz-driven motors, which are key components in our products.”
Grässlin have recently developed a number of new models, as Henk states: “We have released a number of new products lately, most notably the Talento Plus range, which is a new digital time switch product. We are always developing innovative designs, and we plan to further expand the scope of Talento Plus by introducing a top-end line. This project is currently well under way, and we have many other areas of focus, most notably renewing our staircase timer products, as well as developing a new range of thermostats. We have our technology teams working on these designs, and we expect to launch them throughout the course of 2008. The aim is to broaden our product portfolio to include increased home automation technology. This will incorporate technology like movement and presence detectors, which combines with time switch products to create different applications around the house.”
Henk is optimistic in regards to the future, but is also keen to acknowledge potential challenges: “We need to remain competitive, especially facing the emergence of companies and markets in the Far East. Grässlin needs to maintain the high quality of products in comparison to technology emanating from the Far East, and we have developed our brand image accordingly over the last six months. It is important to invest in the brand, but it is also vital to invest in people by bringing in new staff, and we have been active in the employment market recently.
“Our approach in the future will be to continue to grow our product portfolio, while at the same time investing in new technology,” Henk comments. “I expect the company to grow at the same rate that we have experienced over the past year, as well as expand our services into other business fields. The success of the company in the past can be attributed to the quality of our products, and the fact that we are recognised and respected as one of the main innovators within the industry,” he concludes.
Products: Switch and timer technology
Employees: 200 (Germany)