We are celebrating 30 years of Komax Germany

Inside Komax

Or we could just say 30 years of Matthias Klaus, because he was the one, together with his team, who has built up, continuously developed and made Komax Germany what it is today since it was founded in 1994: A company with 48 employees, responsible for the sale and service of Komax semi- and fully automatic wire processing machines in Germany and specializing in customer-specific applications in the industrial sector. Matthias Klaus explains in the following interview what makes Komax Germany what it is, how the company has developed and why his team is about more than simply “working together”.

When AAT Aston, former sales partner of Komax products in Germany, had to reduce personnel, Komax in Switzerland couldn’t just sit back and watch. The need for technical advice on German soil and the need to serve customers there was recognized. Discussions between AAT Aston and Komax resulted in the foundation of a special subsidiary and the complete transfer of the personnel formerly responsible for Komax fully automatic wire processing machines. The newly founded Kabelverarbeitungssysteme Deutschland opened its doors on March 1, 1994 with ten employees. Firstly as a subtenant at AAT Aston, then, with growing success and turnover, in its own premises in Willstätterstrasse 95 in Nuremberg, which is still the company’s base today.

Matthias Klaus, who was previously sales manager with AAT Aston, has been there right from the start. He took over as manager of the newly founded company. Komax Germany has changed significantly since then, but Matthias Klaus has remained a constant over the years. In the following interview, he recalls the beginnings of Komax Germany, reveals the secret of its success and how customer relationships have changed over all the years.

Matthias Klaus, managing director of Komax Germany.

Matthias Klaus, you have overseen and managed Komax Germany since it was founded. Tell us a bit about the beginnings.
When AAT Aston decided to let people go because we weren’t selling any fully automatic wire processing machines, that was a critical situation and moral was low. Komax Germany was founded because we had very important customers in Germany. The agreement was that ten people would transfer from AAT Aston to Komax. In the beginning, we had a lot of freedom, simply had a number of machines delivered to Nuremberg so we could show them to our customers, and immediately started implementing customer-specific special productions. The opening off the borders meant that Poland and the Czech Republic were added and we supported the two representations in the countries for a long time. Evoltec still represents the Komax products in Poland and Lithuania, our longstanding representative for the Czech Republic is now employed directly at Komax Czech Republic.

The first year of our independence went very well and we generated almost twice as much revenues as we had expected. That was the start of our success. We also decided to focus heavily on the industrial sector. In addition to a number of large customers from the automotive industry, we still work mainly with a large number of small and medium-sized customers from the industrial segment.

The first year of our independence went very well and we generated almost twice as much revenues we had expected. That was the start of our success.
—  Matthias Klaus, managing director Komax Germany.

How has Komax Germany developed over the years?
Due to our size back then, we used to discuss business during the lunch breaks, mulled over ideas and made decisions right at the table. We also took risks at times, but this proved to be the right approach over time. We didn’t hold meetings back then and the administrative work was extremely low. This enabled us to implement many topics, orders and enquiries quickly and efficiently.

But we developed together with our customers, because they say what they want and need, and we try to implement these requirements. My focus is not on one-off business, which is why I have always maintained a long-term relationship based on partnership with our customers. Applications were one of our pillars right from the start. We have been building special applications for many years, by modifying our standard machines to tailor them to the production requirements of our customers. This was a major part of our success. We have always visited customers and tried to find out what work they carry out manually and to identify the extent to which these activities can be automated. So we focused more and more on the topic of automation. With smaller customers with just three employees, as well as with customers with over a thousand employees.

What are the highlights of the 30-year history of Komax Germany?
We managed to attract big business relatively quickly, including with key accounts. I remember once in the beginning, we managed to deliver ten Alpha-411 machines to a customer at once. As a small business, that was a success that really motivated us back then. I also remember an order where we had to deliver twenty machines to Hungary. I have fond memories of the many trips to Poland and the Czech Republic that we made in the early days, where we sometimes stayed in accommodation that was definitively not designed for comfort.

What are you particularly proud of?
Since the very beginning, we have improved year on year, grown and always generated good figures. But the thing I’m most proud of is my team. Five of the ten people who were there when Komax Germany was founded are still with us today. Following the combination with Schleuniger, the company now has 48 employees in total. We don’t have ’manager’ and ’employees’ in our company. We are a strong team that I’ve always been able to rely on. My employees have freedom and I trust them to make decisions. I’m really proud of my people and what we have here today. We help each other and each individual is valuable. That still works today with 48 people in the team and is reflected in the low fluctuation rate. Employees stay with us for 15 years on average.

⁠I also came across my employment contract recently and noticed that it was signed by Max Koch in 1994. That makes me feel quite proud, because there can’t be that many people with an employment contract signed by the founder of the Komax Group. I also have many mementoes in my office from the history of Komax, for example the pictures from a calendar produced to mark the 20-year anniversary.

We are almost like family here and I hope that this remains the case in the future, because: Many things can be resolved with money, but appreciation and respect can’t be bought. That applies to both my team and to our customers.
—  Matthias Klaus, managing director Komax Germany.

You have played a major role in shaping the culture of Komax Germany with your personality. What is the most important thing for you in terms of interaction with your colleagues?
I have always been surrounded by many competent people whom I could trust, who worked independently, who could assess risks and knew exactly what they were doing. You have to give employees this freedom so they feel integrated and happy. Because my team is extremely important to me, I always refer to them as ’my people’. I'm not only interested in the wellbeing of my employees at work, but in their private lives too. It was also important to me from the very start to involve my employees’ life partners in life at the company. They are all familiar with the premises at Komax Germany, understand our work and know the other team members. That may sound trivial, but should not be underestimated considering that private problems often have a negative impact on work performance. I've noticed that a positive cooperation, where life partners are included creates lots of understanding at home during hectic periods at work. We are almost like family here and I hope that this remains the case in the future, because: Many things can be resolved with money, but appreciation and respect can’t be bought. That applies to both my team and to our customers.

Your events, particularly the Christmas parties, are famous throughout the Komax Group and have received lots of praise. Tell use more.
The most important thing about our Christmas parties is the fact that it isn’t just a lovely meal, but rather a short trip over the weekend, which also includes the life partners of the employees. There’s always a mix of cultural activities, culinary delights and fun. I’ve had songs composed for employees before, organized comedians and have even been knighted myself. The sword is still hanging in my office.

I’ve always wanted to offer my employees something special from the very first year and we have even been on numerous trips together. Former employees are also invited, as they have also made a big contribution and helped to make us what we are today. It’s lovely that many friendships have been formed between the life partners, former and current employees.

How has the relationship with the customer base of Komax Germany changed over the years?
In the past, we grew with the customer and even made agreements with a handshake. That’s no longer possible. There’s less trust than there used to be and the administrative work is greater. One thing that has always been relevant for our success, however, is the fact that we put our heart and soul into our work and have always worked intensively to maintain customer contact. Because we’ve visited our customers frequently and paid close attention while walking around the workshop. we were familiar with the situation in their company and the challenges they face. I miss that a little today. I spend too much time sitting in my office and have too little contact with what's happening on the market, even though I’m obviously always kept up-to-date via sales. That’s why I can often be found at trade fairs. I want to know what’s going on and want to feel what’s important to our customers. This enables us to identify tendencies and trends, to set the right course and ultimately to make the right decisions.

What plans do you have for Komax Germany in the future?
We have been holding an in-house show since the start of July, which will also include our 30th anniversary celebrations and which the life partners of our employees will also be invited to. Although I will remain at Komax Germany until I retire, I’m already thinking about a succession plan. In this regard, I want to keep some of the old, but also bring in new elements. The most important thing to me is that we don’t forget where we have come from, and why we are what we are today. Appreciation and respect are rare today, but we want to ensure that they remain intact in our company. Towards our customers and towards the employees.


Matthias KlausManaging Director, Komax Germany

Matthias Klaus has been Managing Director of Komax Germany since 1994.

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