News, backgrounds & insights
February 28, 2020
Less day-to-day business but with advice and action
After a total of 50 years as Managing Director, Johannes Reilhofer now hands over the CEO job officially and enjoys leaning back and not needing to rule the day-to-day business anymore. He invites you here for a brief review and outlook.
“I was one of the first to start thinking in ones and zeros.”
50 years managing director, 50 years in the same job. That may sound boring, but it wasn’t. 20 years at JOHNE + REILHOFER and 30 years at Reilhofer KG. A long time that led through various technical generations. In electrical engineering from the tube to the transistor to the peak of integration, to the almighty wonder chip. I experienced my first time at Siemens in the central laboratory in Munich. It was the laboratory for pulse technology, laboratory 501. I was also one of the first to start thinking in ones and zeros. We took care of the transmission via cable, light beams and the recording on tape.
“I was the only revolutionary.”
And as is the case, the youth takes on the experienced experts. At that time, I claimed that pulse duration modulation, pulse amplitude modulation and what else was available in pulse techniques, in which any parameter was changed analogously, had no future. Instead, there would only be one method for a successful future: pulse code modulation. A process in which an ADC (analog to digital converter) generates a report from a signal sample in the form of a digital word. That’s how I said it back then and today everyone does it that way.
Back in the 1960s, it was revolutionary. Unfortunately, I was the only revolutionary in the laboratory at that time. And the only chance to prove it to the “old experts” was to found my own company. Alone you are much too slow with your product idea, so I needed colleagues who also believed in this idea. Fortunately, I can convince people of my visions very quickly and thus quickly found the right engineers.
“Johannes Reilhofer, the PCM Pope.“
There are certainly a lot of motives for starting a company. Some want to make more money. Others want to exercise power. Or like me: you know exactly that a product or technology is not yet mature and are therefore looking for others to join in.
As early as 1972 I had front pages in trade magazines: Johannes Reilhofer, the PCM Pope. It sounds strange, but I didn’t invent the lines. The auto industry pounced on the new product. During the test drives, the possible measurement dynamics increased tremendously, in the crash tests you no longer ended up in noise or overloading and so on. The American FM technology for tape machines was left behind.
“From a commercial point of view, I was the risk for my own company.”
I was certainly a good technician at JOHNE + REILHOFER, but commercially I was the risk for my own company. No matter what the task looked like, I always said: we can do it. Well, we could always do it after we realized it with an economic loss.
Starting with Reilhofer KG we developed marketing strategies. Actually, it’s very easy. You have to come up with a product that the market needs. And then you have to offer it at a price that the measurement departments of users never manage, even if they have already adopted all of our ideas.
What does the user absolutely need? Well, that’s what the experts in the company hierarchy, who are responsible for the costs, determine. You want to do something good for the shareholder, you save. And what is expensive? Well, the staff.
“We wanted to replace the expert in his absence.”
And now comes our technical idea that has brought us the economic echo worldwide. When I used to walk through the test halls, I saw a man sitting at every workstation, watching his test item through the bulletproof glass. At least one screen in front of him and possibly some other signal output devices. The test bench driver linked – and this is important – the measurement parameters and what he saw on the screen in his brain. And then his decision came: CONTINUE or, if the damage was suspected to start: STOP.
That was our chance. We had to make it possible for our diagnostic system to take over the expert knowledge. We wanted to replace the expert in his absence. The system had to generate answers and instructions from the data.
So if the expert on the test bench “told” our deltaANALYSER what to look out for, he could go home. A man was then able to implement 3-shift operation with our diagnostic and action system, even on the weekend.
It wasn’t just getting cheaper. One man also provided completely new information: why does this component hold in one and never in the other test specimen. Cross-sensitivities became a new and important topic. Today we not only find the weakest component, but also the lifespan of the “oversized”.
“Now I have given up my job as managing director.”
Now I have given my job as managing director to my colleague Stefan Salvermoser, who has been responsible for the commercial processes at Reilhofer KG for many years. Our management team continues to consist of the Global Sales Manager Andreas Mathiak, the CMO Ingo Meyer and the CTO Thomas Satzinger. I myself will remain the owner and will of course be available as a discussion partner for my colleagues.
My goal has always been to be a technological pioneer and to give my colleagues a secure job. This is why this company has always remained a KG, so that no shareholders were able to withdraw any profits. Rather, the profits generated will continue to flow into development in the future, so that Reilhofer KG continues to be a technological leader in its defined field of work. To ensure this, the company will be converted into a foundation. That is the logical step of my responsibility.
Yours, Johannes Reilhofer