GBneuhaus turns 30!
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of GBneuhaus, we take a brief journey into the history of our company and venture a look into the future.
The 90s: Ready, set, go!
Spring 1991: Technoglas Neuhaus GmbH is founded as a result of discussions between Dr. Hermann Knauer and Rudolf Mueller-Uri - our two company founders - and Planoptik GmbH Elsoff. At the beginning, the company focuses on the production of technical glass cuts, for e.g. cover plates for halogen spotlights. As early as March, Neuhaus employees travel 330 kilometers every week from the Rennsteig to Westerwald for training.
On the 3rd of May 1991, the deed of association for Technoglas Neuhaus GmbH is signed, leading to the birth of our company - which starts its operations with a mere 12 employees. The same year, the city of Neuhaus decides to open up and develop parts of today's industrial area "Am Herrnberg", where shareholders of Technoglas Neuhaus GmbH buy the land on which the company stands even today. In July 1991, the construction of a production hall begins here, where employees start working under challenging circumstances by the end of the year; the two Managing Directors run the company from a sparsely furnished office desk, while employees have to work with thick winter clothes on due to lack of proper heating. Their driving force? The fact that they now have a job in their hometown and the confidence that Technoglas Neuhaus will continue to grow and develop quickly. By 1995, our company has a total of 30 employees already.
In March 1996, Technoglas Neuhaus GmbH is renamed as Planoptik Neuhaus GmbH. At this time, the company also enters the field of coatings using the so-called “sol-gel process”. Yellow coatings are applied to halogen lamps for fog lights. Two years later, we start working with the blue coating, a product we are still known for even today. By the end of the 90s, our team numbers around 60 employees.
The 2000s: Independence and Crisis
Shortly after the turn of the millennium, the three divisions of the Planoptik Group (in Neuhaus, Elsoff and Hungary respectively) - to which our company still belongs at this time - are reorganised. This leads to a transfer of machines from Neuhaus to Hungary. From now on, flat glass cutting and the coating of halogen burners and flat glass products are carried out at the company site in Neuhaus. Economic difficulties at the headquarters in Elsoff lead to the management considering the sale of Planoptik Neuhaus as well as Planoptik Hungaria. As a result, uncertainty spreads. Without further ado, Neuhaus company founders Dr. Hermann Knauer and Rudolf Mueller-Uri buy both Planoptik Neuhaus GmbH as well as Planoptik Hungaria on December 31, 2002. In 2003, the company is renamed as Glasbearbeitung + Beschichtung Neuhaus GmbH and starts its journey on the road to independence with a total of 50 employees.
It isn’t just the company administration that needs to adapt to the new situation; the company philosophy takes a new turn too. Employees are encouraged to participate more in company activities; from July 2003 onwards, they receive monthly gift vouchers and coupons; from 2004, the company pays a monthly contribution for long-time employees within the framework of a retirement fund agreement. The path to independence turns out to be an extremely successful one. Until 2007, Glasbearbeitung + Beschichtung Neuhaus GmbH is able to increase its turnover significantly every year. It initially seems as if this record will be surpassed once again the following year. However, these hopes are dashed with the the collapse of the international financial system in the summer of 2008. Our company is hit hard and needs to face the grim consequences: Reduced work hours follow until August 2009, and social benefits have to be cut. The pressure to save money is so severe that some neon tubes are even removed from the lamps to save electricity. Production at the Hungarian site is discontinued completely.
2010 onwards: Growth and Development
The financial crisis leaves its mark, but our company survives. Glasbearbeitung + Beschichtung Neuhaus GmbH has learnt three major lessons: Never depend on moneylenders, do not focus on just one major customer, and prioritise and expand R&D.
While our company recovers, company founder Rudolf Müller-Uri passes away in 2010. His contribution and service to GBneuhaus as well as his unique personality remain unforgotten. In 2011, Glasbearbeitung + Beschichtung Neuhaus GmbH is rebranded. The expansion of our product portfolio is accompanied by the shortening of the company name to GBneuhaus GmbH. At this time, GBneuhaus boasts of a 100 employees. As the financial situation has stabilised once again, the expansion of our production capacity becomes necessary - the company premises are extended to include a second production hall. The year 2011 is, on the whole, characterised by multiple remodelling measures. New customers in the field of burner coating and a steadily growing volume of orders lead to the need for further expansion. This is implemented in 2014 in the form of a two-story building, which, since completion, houses the administrative offices as well as the new spray coating area.
In 2014, Michael Petry is appointed Managing Director of GBneuhaus. From then on, he leads our company together with company founder Dr. Hermann Knauer. In 2014, we also start developing our "New Business" division - functional surface coatings for a wide variety of products made of glass, metals or plastics. Our product portfolio in this area is developed further in the following years thanks to our brilliant R&D department. With the establishment of the New Business division, our company also pursues an increasingly international agenda. Business co-operation with a partner in India leads an increasing involvement in the Indian market as well. In 2018, these efforts culminate in the foundation of our subsidiary GBneuhaus India Pvt. Ltd. based in Pune.
GBneuhaus today: Excellence and Innovation
As the leading service partner for functional coatings, GBneuhaus is in demand all over the world today. As a company that is always learning, we have repeatedly drawn our lessons from the experiences of the last three decades and have thus been able to develop into an innovative and efficient company. Even though our orientation is increasingly international, Neuhaus am Rennweg remains our headquarters. Our commitment to our hometown will be further emphasised in 2021 with several seven-figure investments: The acquisition of an additional building and the introduction of an ERP system as well as the expansion and automation of the spray coating area of our Neuhaus operations are in the works, which will pave the way for a successful future.
Managing Director Michael Petry, who has completely taken over the management of the company since company founder Dr. Hermann Knauer went into well-deserved retirement, leads us into this bright future. In 2020, Dr. Hermann Knauer was honoured by Thuringian premier Bodo Ramelow with the Thuringian Order of Merit for his contributions to improving economic and social life in the Rennsteig region. Together with Rudolf Mueller-Uri, he laid the foundation for the success of GBneuhaus in 1991 and led the company as Managing Director for many years. Dr. Hermann Knauer's philosophy is to give back to his home region that has contributed so much to the success of the company. In keeping with his doctrine, we support a number of local sports clubs, educational institutions and cultural organisations in Neuhaus and the surrounding area.
Our human resources policy has also continued to evolve throughout our 30-year existence: a 36-hour work week, flexible working hours, gift vouchers and coupons, company policies for health management, taking over payment of daycare fees, contributions to the company pension scheme, further training and development opportunities for employees - many measures that have proven their worth over the years and made our company a much sought-after employer in the region. In 2016, we even received an award from the Thuringian Labour Minister for our innovative HR policy. Of course, sustainability also plays an increasingly important role for us. Among other things, we pursue a progressive energy management policy with the aim of reducing our CO2 emissions as much as possible. With this goal in mind, we also installed a photovoltaic system on our roof in 2020.
Our future: Progress and Success
Since we’re always looking to the future, we formulated our "Vision 2025" in the year 2019, and it has formed the basis of our activities ever since. We fight together, as a team, to achieve our goals. The coating of halogen burners currently still represents our largest business area. It is therefore also the basis for our long-term success. By 2025, we want to be the leading service partner for functional coatings across Europe as well as in India. We want to expand and further develop our services and products by then, in order to achieve the greatest possible advantage for the respective customer product. In doing so, it is extremely important to us that we create benefits for people and the environment in the places where we operate. A high degree of digitalisation is also very important to us; we want to remain innovative and face the challenges of the future head-on, whatever they may be. What we already know is that together with our employees, our partners and friends, customers and suppliers, we have the best comrades-in-arms anyone could wish for to solve these tasks and make the world a better place.
"I am extremely proud of what our company founders Dr. Hermann Knauer and Rudolf Mueller-Uri created and developed together with many long-term employees. Today, our company is in demand internationally and employs more than a 100 people from the Rennsteig region. Over the years, we have become a real team, working together as equals both among ourselves as well as with our customers and partners. This is what makes our continuous development, this striving for innovation, for developing solutions for a better world, possible in the first place - because we work together as a team towards our goals.
Our 30th anniversary is cause for celebration, to appreciate all that we have achieved so far, and is also exactly the right time to look to the future. In 2021, we will invest a seven-digit sum at our Neuhaus am Rennweg site in the automation and expansion of our production technology, in the digitalisation of our systems and in the expansion of our buildings. We want to become even more efficient for our customers and partners and be able to offer even more innovative coatings that make the world a better place. To achieve this, we must also remain a sought-after local employer. At the same time, we continue to remain an active supporter of local schools, clubs, cultural activities and volunteer work so that we can do something good for the region and its wonderful people outside of our corporate activities."
Michael Petry, Managing Director