It all began as a one-man company in a living room. Offers were written on grease-proof paper, but it was what was written that was important. Because when Hans Dickert, a young engineer wanting to sell his services, presented himself to customers, they wanted more from him: Why couldn't he produce his innovations directly for them, they asked him – thus generating the first stimulus of growth for this company, which in its 30th year of existence generates approx. € 7 million with 60 employees and whose maxim from the onset was to satisfy the customers' wishes.
Dickert Electronic GmbH in Cölbe-Schönstadt specialises in electronics in the field of radio remote controls and controls for home, house and industry. End users come into contact with products from Schönstadt when they open their garage door via remote control or control the fountain in their garden pond, for example. And this is more frequent than you think: 400,000 hand-held transmitters leave the works annually, but only a few actually bear the name Dickert.
70% of the production goes straight to industry customers who market the devices from Schönstadt under their own name. "Therefore our 400,000 hand-held transmitters are not divided into large batches, such as four times a hundred thousand", explains Junior Executive, Martin Dickert, ..."but rather into 300 different variants – all specified according to our customer's wishes." In this way, the 30 year old also sums up the in-house philosophy: to orientate themselves on the requirements of the customer. In addition, the company has the ambition to always be a little ahead of the market. How does that work? By continually engaging in dialogue with customers and observing the market with them, watching what trends are emerging and determining what the end customer wishes. Currently, controls in housing technology via smartphone are top of the priority list of the company's four development engineers.
They also acquire new input from young colleagues: Dickert always welcomes trainees and graduates. They are also driven by the responsibility brought to bear on them: "If, as manufacturer, we are unable to advance developments and thus simplify the lives of the end customers, then who can?" asks company founder, Hans Dickert, and enthusiastically explains that his company already creates today what even TÜV (Technical Inspectorate) inspectors consider to be impossible: devices from Dickert already comply with the EU Directive, according to which electrical devices may only consume 0.5 Watt while in stand-by mode.
"Until now this only applied to large household equipment, but should it also come into force for small controls, then we are already prepared! As a result, we not only have an advantage over our competitors, but can also enable our customers to save on their electricity bills as of now, and contribute towards the sustainable management of energy. That is the buzz!" And you can sense precisely this buzz when father and son, Hans and Martin Dickert, are having a conversation. When these two creative minds talk about their ideas and developments, then you can sense that they pursue these with true passion and enjoyment.
A family business involving father, mother, son
Following the initial orders in the 80's, the company developed rapidly: through recommendations and an unobtrusive method of acquiring customers, Hans Dickert managed to ensure continual growth. In 1992, the company, who had initially outsourced the production, moved into a large 500 m2 building at today's location. Six years later, they were already ready to expand with a 1,500 m2 extension. Currently, a 10,000 m2 land purchase for further expansion is in planning. Hans Dickert's wife, Christel Dickert, was also involved right from the beginning. She is still responsible for the entire accounting and finances.
Conscious living of different approaches
Dickert Electronic develops and produces everything in Schönstadt. Everything. How do they manage to remain competitive with their products manufactured in Germany on favourable terms against the cheap competition from Asia which is so feared in the branch? Hans Dickert explains this with a mixture of many key ingredients: For one thing, the company has highly precise, high-quality equipment. This is not subjected to false economy:: "This is the prerequisite for excellent products", the Senior Executive says. A second reason why customers remain faithful to the Schönstadt company is the high availability of their products: "Contrary to the trend, we bind a lot of capital in part stocks, because 'just-in-time' does not always work out in materials logistics. In this way, we can produce flexibly and quickly, and relieve the customer from the burden of high storage at their end. This is a deliberately different approach, which distinguishes us from other companies", he says. In comparison to overseas competition, Dickert Electronic can make deliveries within two to three weeks on request, which otherwise would involve two months for shipping alone. "And we also deliver small series", adds Martin Dickert – "regardless of whether 1,000 or 100,000 pieces". In this way, the customer does not need to do anything: Development, production and quality assurance are undertaken for them by the company in Schönstadt. Only extremely large orders are not accepted: They do not want to be dictated to by large companies, and so many customers bow to them and accept their 30-day payment target, granted without exceptions, for example. "We do not have to grow every year", is the philosophy of Dickert Electronic.
Promoting and strengthening employees
A further advantage which both executives never tire of emphasizing is the employees: They all come from the surrounding region and are promoted and deployed in the areas where their strengths lie.
Hans and Martin Dickert see the people behind every certificate and qualification. And their employees thank them for this: At peak times, it is not a problem to motivate them to work overtime, and the opposite is also true - the employees will stay at home if needs must. This is made possible through a working time account. And the low fluctuation rate at Dickert Electronic is proof that this philosophy of a fair and trusting togetherness pays off.
The latter also applies to the company's relationship with customers and suppliers. As an aside - instead of a Christmas present this year, Dickert Electronic treated their key customers to a New Year's breakfast and, as a result, underlined Hans Dickert's approach in a completely different way: "Innovation means that we find that little bit more which the competition does not have".
New electronics meet old design: Hans Dickert (left) with the AHS 40, Martin Dickert with new electronics