In 1948, Alfred Herrhammer started a machine and appliance repair company in Winterhausen, Germany. In 1950, he is assigned to repair a candle-making machine, and instead of doing the repair, he built a new one. This is how the first Herrhammer candle machine was assembled and delivered, creating a new chapter in history full of innovations for the candle industry.
Over time, the company has focused on developing a wide range of candle-making machines, becoming a benchmark among candle manufacturers around the world. Through its consistent participation at the ALAFAVE congresses, Herrhammer has become an expert on knowing the Latin American market needs.
Herrhammer GmbH Spezialmaschinen will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in the upcoming month of June, and this Punto de Fusion edition shares some anecdotes from its main players, their vision as a third-generation family business, and their view in the present and future challenges.
Peter Herrhamer, partner, and the founder’s son
How did the company start?
It all started by chance. In 1945, at the end of the war, my father returned to his hometown having worked as an aeronautical engineer in a turbine manufacturing company. In Germany everything had been destroyed and he was unemployed. With his experience, in 1948, he set up his own business to repair and sell machines of all kinds and it is there that he was hired to repair a candle-making machine that had been damaged in a fire during the war. However, he decided to build a new semi-automatic milling machine for candles.
What memories do you keep from working with your father?
As founders, our thoughts were with the company 24/7, especially in the difficult post-war years. As a keen technician, I am still proud of the mechanical developments of the early days, when we were still able to create machines with the highest precision and quality, practically from scratch, without sensors or servo motors.
How have the family dynamics been with the business over the years?
In the past, our family’s monetary sacrifices were very frequent. Every cent that entered the company was invested in its development and organization. Currently, the greatest sacrifice is the time that we dedicate to the company and that deprives us of sharing more family time, especially with children or grandchildren. However, we are glad to have brought descendants onto the third and fourth generation and we hope that the company continues.
Ralph Dieslin, CEO
How have you contributed to the vision of the company?
Upon entering in 2004, my first objective was the development of the North American and Latin American markets. At the same time, getting the company to advance in filling technology and in the processing of paste waxes. Since 2011, as its CEO, I have been focused on the search to develop new technologies, restructure, and improve the organization, finding new business ideas, among others.
What are the company’s goals for the coming years?
After having acquired the last two remaining competitors in Germany (Kürschner and Weissbach), and considering that our processes are already very well digitized; the focus is on extending product development and sustainability program. From a family point of view, the long-term goal is to prepare our children to hand them over the business. That would be the most beautiful realization.
Nina Herrhammer, Management Control Manager
How does it feel to be the third generation of such an important company in the industry?
As with each family business, one is responsible for the “inheritance”, conservation, and continuity to the next generation; this is my effort and commitment to the company and to the family. Also, my priority is to being able to guarantee a secure future for our employees.
You carry a triple role as the granddaughter of the founder, wife to the CEO and head of management, what challenges does that represent to you?
Having been associated with the company, practically since I was born, has prepared me for my role and responsibilities at the company. But I also really enjoy the role of wife and mother, because I have a very important function as a point of union between all the members. In the daily dynamics there are challenges, difficulties, and constant changes, but I always try to create the best possible balance.
How have you contributed to the vision of the company?
As a lawyer, I have legally adjusted the company. Germany imposes very complicated and changing demands on companies, especially in exports. This can have serious consequences if an early warning system is not installed, or if the workflows are not optimized. This was super complicated but necessary, today, controlling and drafting all the contracts is our day to day.
Andrej Pantchenko, Sales Manager
What does Herrhammer represent in your personal and professional life?
I joined the company in 2014 as a North and South American Sales Engineer because I was drawn to working in the industry with clients in these regions. I have learned that one should not only focus on the machines, but also on the development of a system adapted to the needs of the client. Today, I am still attracted to working with these markets that have allowed me to learn another language and discover new places.
How is your experience assisting customers in Latin America?
In recent years, we have observed a trend among our customers regarding their needs to improve production processes and their automation, which translates into an increase in the quality and quantity of candles. I feel very comfortable interacting with Latin American candle manufacturers, and I hope to continue assisting them for a long time.