Wilhelm Stemmer has sold 75.04 per cent of shares in Stemmer Imaging to Munich-based AL-KO, a supplier of automotive technology, gardening implements and air conditioning equipment.
The European distributor and supplier of machine vision equipment will form a self-contained division within the AL-KO Group.
Stemmer Imaging will continue to be managed by Christof Zollitsch, who has been co-shareholder and second managing director since 2001, and Martin Kersting, who has been a partner in the business until now. The management team acquired a share of 24.96 per cent in the company as part of the transaction.
Wilhelm Stemmer is retiring from running Stemmer Imaging. ‘I have been an entrepreneur for 44 years and am now 73 years old. It was time for me to find a sustainable succession plan to ensure the continuation of my life's work,’ Wilhelm Stemmer commented. ‘With AL-KO as the majority owner, Stemmer Imaging will continue to be able to tap into future markets and expand them further.’
AL-KO Kober was founded in 1931 by Alois Kober as a small locksmith's workshop in Grosskoetz near Guenzberg in Bavarian Swabia. Today it has a total of 45 locations and around 4,000 employees worldwide.
Stefan Kober, president of AL-KO, said: ‘Industrial image processing technologies are an integral component of the increasing digitisation and networking of industrial processes. By absorbing Stemmer Imaging into the AL-KO Group we are taking a big step in our positioning in the Industry 4.0 environment.’
Stemmer Imaging posted turnover of €88.7 million over the 2016/2017 fiscal year, growth of six per cent after adjustment for exchange rates. The company was founded in 1987, is active in 19 countries, and to date has around 260 employees.
The biggest increase in revenue was from Stemmer Imaging’s branches in Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland. There was also substantial growth in the UK and Sweden, but it was offset because of the depreciation of the local currencies against the Euro.
Among the many projects Stemmer Imaging has worked on, it provided equipment for the Bloodhound world land speed record project. The company supplies its Common Vision Blox software and runs a series of technology forum days across Europe.
‘I feel optimistic about Stemmer Imaging’s future and I am convinced that the company will remain in good hands,’ Wilhelm Stemmer said, adding ‘although I have sold the majority of my shares, nothing will change for our employees, customers and suppliers.’
Wilhelm Stemmer established the Stemmer Imaging Foundation a few years ago which aims to inspire children and young people to further their education in sciences and take careers in technology and engineering. ‘I really enjoy working with young people, but, so far I haven’t been able to spend enough time with them. Now, I am free to devote a lot more attention to this project. And I will catch up with things that I haven’t had time for in the last 44 years. So, I really don’t see myself as a retiree,’ he said.
Zollitsch commented: ‘We are confident that we will be able to continue running the company in the founder’s interest. In addition, we appointed long-term leading employees as co-shareholders in order to secure continuity and to establish a corporate structure, which allows us reliable planning for the coming decade and beyond.
‘With AL-KO as a parent company, we are able to capture synergies and get the financial support to continue and further develop our buy-and-build strategy,’ he added.