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Winterhalter, the warewashing specialist from Meckenbeuren, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. For three generations now, the family business has guaranteed cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchen. Why do you have to trim the sails just right, so to speak, and make changes of course to uphold these guarantees? What special DNA is rooted in the family and the company? The answers lie in Winterhalter’s 75 years of success.

“With our daughter we went through a restless phase,” recalls a smiling Ralph Winterhalter, CEO of Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH. “As an infant, nothing could calm her down except looking through the glass door of a running undercounter warewasher.” Therein rests the hope that the warewashing technology gene, which has been the bedrock of this extraordinarily successful company, has also been passed down to the fourth generation. 

In 1947, Karl Winterhalter founded the “Karl Winterhalter Ing. Haushaltsgegenstände und Elektrogeräte” company in Friedrichshafen, which took scrap metal and turned it into useful household appliances. In 1957, with the GS 60 dishwasher, he began to specialise in commercial warewashing: and with that, the warewashing technology gene was laid in the cradles of his descendants. Jürgen Winterhalter, Managing Director and son of the company founder, grew up in the world of warewashing technology. The first warewasher was developed in the family home and garden. Rather than play, Jürgen preferred to follow his father’s early dishwashing experiments in the cellar. Ralph Winterhalter, grandson of the company founder, lived on the factory premises in Meckenbeuren until he was four years old; his playground was the production area, and his bicycle tracks wound between the trucks.

The company began to spread outside Germany in 1967, when the first foreign branch opened in Holland. Today, Winterhalter is represented by subsidiaries or partners in more than 70 countries. The machines are made in the headquarters in Meckenbeuren on Lake Constance, in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl and in Rüthi in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley in Switzerland. In 2015, a production facility opened in Rayong, Thailand. There, machines specially developed for the Asian market are manufactured. In 2013 and 2017, the headquarters in Meckenbeuren grew by 17,000 m² as new offices, development and laboratory buildings were added, along with a production hall and a large logistics centre. 

Today, Jürgen and Ralph Winterhalter can look back on a successful company history. The avid sailors like to compare their journey with a lengthy regatta. In regatta sailing, the sailor has to be able to deal with swiftly changing weather. “You can't change the wind. You have to take it wherever it comes from and no matter how strong it blows,” says Jürgen Winterhalter with a smile. “But you can set the sail differently and put in a course change,” adds Ralph Winterhalter. The success of the family business is based on this principle. To reach one’s destination, above all in hard times, one must adapt to the constantly changing environment and set out new milestones. One component is key: the crew. “My grandfather coined our company’s guiding principle,” Ralph Winterhalter says, affirming the company philosophy. “Success is never achieved alone.” He describes his crew as the company’s most valuable asset. That’s why the company is constantly and intensively investing in the satisfaction of the staff. On the company’s 75th anniversary, all 1,800 Winterhalter employees worldwide will receive a generous bonus. “Each of our employees contributes to the company’s success each and every day. For that, we would like to say thank you and to give something back from the success of the last few years,” the managing directors explain.  

Ralph Winterhalter attributes the success in particular to the company’s DNA: not getting hung up on problems, seizing opportunities to solve them, responding to the needs of the customer and thinking from the customer’s point of view. “We sell solutions, and not just a product,” the managing director sums up. “Our solid financial structure and independence from external investors secure our entrepreneurial freedom and let us make quick decisions and changes of course.”

The directors firmly believe the future will continue to deliver successes. “With a strong team, new and innovative products and digital solutions for warewashing practice, we will also circumnavigate the challenges ahead of us and log many more successful chapters in our company history.”

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