The Primepulse group invests in SMEs that offer complex industry solutions – as this is where KLAUS WEINMANN sees the greatest
opportunities for Germany in the digital world
ode words can easily lead to misunderstandings. Take “digitalisation”, for example: the first things that spring to mind are brands such as Apple, Google and Facebook.
Not many people think of components such as rectifiers or actua- tors. However, it is the less glamorous aspects that offer greater opportunities for German SMEs (small and medium-sized enter- prises). Klaus Weinmann has no doubt about it: he sees how well business is going – away from the public eye, but at the heart of demand for clever solutions for industrial customers. The fact is that many companies have realised they need sensors, algorithms and computer power in order to work faster, more efficiently and more profitably. “We shouldn’t think of digitalisation as a case of: ‘we are now launching this ingenious new product’”, Weinmann says. “Those tend to be the exceptional cases.” With Primepulse, his Munich-based company, he specialises in making things that are already good even better – by being solid, down-to-earth and hav- ing a healthy dose of perfectionism. Equally though, Weinmann is forward-looking, has a global network and boasts almost 30 years of experience in the world of bits and bytes.
Primepulse grew out of the challenge of combining tradition and modernity – in such a way that the companies involved could con- tinue to play to their strengths even as they entered a new era. On the one hand, there was the engineering firm AL-KO, a successful producer of lawnmowers, air technology and automotive parts for decades. On the other hand, there was the digital services provider Cancom, which Weinmann had founded in 1992 together with Ray- mond and Stefan Kober – grandsons of the founder of AL-KO. “It made sense to bring the two together”, explains Weinmann. “The family firm, plus our know-how from Cancom”.
Primepulse serves as a link and an intermediary between the two worlds. Instead of merging two companies that are quite dif- ferent, the founders set store by networking: Primepulse works as a holding company and seeks out other SMEs with businesses that could be expanded significantly using a little digitalisation. “We often act as a helping hand for those taking over the reins at com- panies”, says Weinmann. “The touch of digitalisation is in demand. Especially where a new generation is coming in”. By making strate- gic investments, Primepulse aims to reach a turnover of two billion euros as soon as possible. “Our approach is: we need a market that offers the prospect of long-term growth”.
A rock-solid business is welcome, as long as it has scope for growth. For example, Primepulse owns a 54 percent stake in Stem- mer Imaging, a specialist for industrial camera systems. A company producing coffee capsules now uses Stemmer’s image recognition to check each capsule for defects. The number of rejects has fallen significantly and many tonnes of aluminium have been saved. Stemmer owns the technology, which is important to Weinmann: “We try to develop systems in such a way that we can market them multiple times.”
And this applies to all areas of the portfolio: whether software, the Internet of Things or battery technology, it’s always about spe- cific solutions that are enhanced by digitalisation. Following this strategy, Weinmann sees great opportunities for German SMEs: “We need to seek out complexity”, because in his view, this is where German firms’ strengths lie in comparison to the international competition. “In many applications, our perfectionism is an advan- tage. And the world market is big enough for us to continue living well”. Perhaps without a lot of recognition, but remaining reliably successful – which is what SMEs are used to.
Text: Karsten Lemm
PHoto: Sigrid Reinichs
Klaus Weinmann founded Primepulse in 2016 together with Raymond Kober and Stefan Kober. The holding company invests in compa- nies that offer industry solutions. With its digi- tal know-how, it aims to help all companies in its port- folio to develop new products for the networked economy. Companies that Primepulse has invested in include Stemmer Imaging, Katek and AL-KO.