Founded in 1947, HBC-radiomatic, a leading manufcturer of radio remote controls for the crane industry and other major markets, marked 70 years of business this summer with two days of celebrations in its hometown of Crailsheim, Germany.
Wolfgang Brendel with daughters, Dr. Friederike Brendel (right) and Dorothee Roels
Since 1953 the company has been 100 per cent owned by the family of one of two founders, Martin Brendel, whose son, Wolfgang, is owner and CEO. His daughters, Dr. Friederike Brendel and Dorothee Roels, are also members of the management board.
Wolfgang Brendel said, “This is an important milestone in our history. In the last few years, we have built-up a completely new company infrastructure with our new production site in Crailsheim. This huge project was a real challenge for our staff and they did an outstanding job so the anniversary is a good opportunity to celebrate together and to give something back.”
HBC-radiomatic’s new production facility on Emil-Rathenau-Straße was the centrepiece of celebrations. A large marquee was erected in the building’s parking area where presentations were given, while attendees enjoyed entertainment, local food and beverages. The factory was also prepared for guided tours, complete with temporary footprints to mark a pathway through production zones and a trade show exhibit containing the company’s latest innovations. Attendees saw a joystick manufacturer at work and participated in hands-on, interactive remote control experiences.
A beginning in radiotelephony
Brendel gave a presentation that charted HBC-radiomatic’s development alongside major historical events. He said, “When my father handed over the company management to me, HBC had around 35 employees [it now has more than 450] and a very good reputation, especially in the German-speaking area, for its radio technical products, with focus on radiotelephony. Back then, wireless controls for machines in industrial applications were not as common as today, but rather a futuristic concept. We are proud to have pioneered its evolution over the years as a global leader in our sector.”
HBC-radiomatic is now a worldwide business with six subsidiaries and around 40 partners for sales and service worldwide. Its export ratio is 60 % to more than 80 countries. Emphasis was placed throughout the two days on the company remaining a family business. To that end, Dr. Brendel, who oversees technology and product management, and Dorothee Roels, who leads the commercial department and business development, joined in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Dr. Brendel said, “Organising a company succession, is a very big, but also a very exciting task; we have the best possible support through our father. In third generation, we can split responsibility between two families and continue the business. Additional family members are currently working in leading functions and even the fourth generation are already frequent visitors.”
Roels said, “Friederike and I have different professional backgrounds. I complement her technical expertise and leadership with a strong focus on economics, for example; we also work closely together on strategy. However, we attribute the success of our company to its ability to provide solutions to customers, delivered by a loyal, dedicated team. It was therefore fitting to bring everyone together in Crailsheim to mark this special occasion.”
Consistency through loyalty
Celebrations were enjoyed with many employees who have been working for the company for 40 years, and some even longer than that.
Wolfgang Brendel said, “From the beginning, we have always put a strong focus on long-term relationships with our staff and we commonly celebrate the retirement of radio remote control professionals who have been with us their entire careers.”
Diversity of product and breadth of radio remote control solutions means they serve a customer base that spreads over a myriad of industries. HBC-radiomatic offers a complete range of control technology for safe and efficient operation of industrial, construction, and loader cranes, in addition to concrete pumps and other equipment. Its most popular products are the spectrum and micron series, as the control of lifting equipment, in particular, by radio systems has become standard over recent decades.
Customisation remains a cornerstone of the company, as customers benefit from tailored controls and interfaces for their specific requirements. Integral to ongoing development of manufacturing processes is the production site in Emil-Rathenau-Straße, which Brendel revealed has the potential for further expansion in future years.
He said, “Our products are high-class and come at a price. After all, they are the net product of many busy hands. In order to be able to manufacture this quality, the company needs well-educated staff and world-class infrastructure. We provide the best possible solution for each customer, which would not be possible without our own on-site manufacturing facility. Producing all of our own electronic and mechanical components is integral to longevity and growth strategy.”
Brendel added, “We are strengthened by independence of external influences, whether it be banks, suppliers or wholesale customers. We accomplish investments by our own endeavours, which means continuous development of our products and manufacturing techniques has always been our most important investment. That’s how we stay ahead of the field.”
The next 70 years
The management team enters the company’s 71st year buoyed by the recent celebrations and feedback from assembled media, staff and customers.
Dr. Brendel said, “We expect to see a continued trend towards greater inclusion of wireless control systems in operational procedures. We hear a lot about Industry 4.0, the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, and connectivity options or accessing our technology from afar may well become part of discussions in the future.”
Roels said, “We can certainly open up further markets—geographically as well as concerning additional customer applications. Besides the established markets, for example Europe, North America and China, we see further growth potential in Latin America and India, where we founded our youngest foreign subsidiary four years ago. To seize this opportunity at the right moment is one of the biggest challenges that we need to face.”
Brendel concluded, “I am happy that the generation change is working out very well at HBC. With our values, in which we have trusted for 70 years, combined with seven decades of experience and outstanding employees, we can confidently look ahead with the company on secure foundations.”