Dr. Leu, the roots of CLEMENS GmbH are in the Technologie– und Gründerzentrum in Würzburg (Lower Franconia). Just in 1989 the first thermal cycler was produced. Can you share with us what that was like?
Thomas Clemens, the founder and eponym launched the company within the Gründerzentrum in Würzburg in 1989. He was one of the first to take up the new trend of Surface Mounted Technology. This formed the nucleus of today's CLEMENS GmbH.
In 1996 came the move to our own premises in Waldbüttelbrunn, which we at first shared with another company. Here began the production of laboratory equipment for the life science field, especially thermal cyclers for renowned laboratory outfitters.
The next step of the company was the in-house development of thermal cyclers and thermal shakers sold through various distribution channels. Due to this success the premises, now being used exclusively by CLEMENS GmbH, underwent significant extensions.
In 2009, the integration into the PEQLAB Biotechnology Group, based in Erlangen, which had for many years been our reliable and successful partner for laboratory equipment occurred. Together with PEQLAB we created our current series on peqSTAR X thermal cyclers, which has no international comparison. Since March 2014 PEQLAB and CLEMENS GmbH belong to VWR Group, a highly successful laboratory outfitter based in the US. PEQLAB remains strong, especially in Germany and Austria; VWR operates globally with its own sales staff.
With this new sales channel, the signs indicate a significant growth.
Dr. Martin Leu
Today we have about 30 employees and can look back on 25 years of experience in electronics manufacturing and more than 20 years of experience in laboratory equipment development and production. But our briskness and innovation remain the same as on the first day. Currently we bring our expertise in international research and development projects, and only last year with the PCR Workstation we successfully brought another proprietary product to the starting line.
You offer not only the development of electronic systems but the electronic contract manufacturing. What strategy was behind this, and how can these two business areas form a synergy for the value chain of your customers?
The surface mounted technology and thus the electronics manufacturing was one of the key technologies for Clemens from the beginning and still is today, even though we now achieve the greater proportion of our sales with our own laboratory equipment. We have a large amount of electronics in our appliances, produce a middle-range quantity and have very high quality requirements. That's why we are certified according to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 and have thus established quality management systems, which meet the requirements in the medical sector.
In addition we have the need for flexibility and speed in electronics development. We therefore see that electronics manufacturing continues to be one of our core competencies, and we want to have this in-house. Of course we offer this expertise to our customers.
We see ourselves as a specialist for small to medium quantities. There are only a few competitors in this field who can demonstrate similar certifications. Our customers appreciate our high quality standards, our flexibility and our delivery reliability. But many also appreciate our ability that goes beyond pure electronics manufacturing – i.e. to carry out further steps such as varnishing, socketing, cable assembly or the assembly of complete modules.
The combination of the two business units - the laboratory equipment on the one hand and the electronics and assembly production on the other hand - continues to be a success story, both for us and for our customers.
For the future, does CLEMENS GmbH plan for other divisions that offer your customers a complete all-round service in terms of "Product Design and Manufacturing"? Here we think of quality control for devices and systems, or packaging and logistics services.
Right now we not only offer the electronics and assembly production but also consulting and development services. This often leads to more cost-effective solutions with regard to future production, since development and production go virtually hand-in-hand in our processes. As part of the development it is not only about the final product but, if necessary, also the appropriate packaging and, more importantly, the required test solutions in order to guarantee our high quality standards and efficiency. Insofar we already offer all-round solutions, which include all steps from the product idea to series production. We follow our product development process, which is anchored in the framework of our quality management system.
It is a fact that the competition will catch up and USPs will merge. In the future, how does CLEMENS GmbH intend to differentiate itself from other market players and participate in the creation of this fast-paced and highly technological market?
Besides quality, innovation is our second credo. This firstly requires innovative employees and an environment in which they can develop freely. We have created both here at CLEMENS. In addition, we participate in international research projects, so we always have good access to technology networks as well as an overview of technology trends regarding laboratory and life sciences. This naturally affects the devices that we develop and build - the technical data always move at the upper level of what is possible. Secondly, we use this knowledge to keep us up-to-date in all the other relevant areas and that is ultimately of great benefit to our customers.
Modern and successful companies have to keep a close eye on the increasing globalization and internationalization to secure further development. Where do you see the CLEMENS GmbH in five or ten years?
To predict a period of 5 to 10 years can only be achieved by looking into in a crystal ball. However, we can say that for the global distribution of our products we are well positioned within the international VWR group, and that offers CLEMENS enormous growth potential.
With regard to the development and production of our laboratory equipment, we have to observe the competition in Asia. For the moment and for the coming years many competitors that play in our league concerning technical aspects and production quantities are mainly based in Germany, other European countries and the US. In that respect we do not see any potential location disadvantages for us being in Würzburg.
To predict a period of 5 to 10 years can only be achieved by looking
into a crystal ball.
Dr. Martin Leu
Regarding the electronics and component manufacturing, CLEMENS is geared for small to medium level quantities focusing on great flexibility and high quality standards. This will continue to be a market in which the physical proximity is crucial.
All in all, we expect a significant growth in terms of volumes and revenues in the next few years. We will also use this time to expand our product portfolio. For example, we are already working on a new small thermal cycler, which can process up to 32 samples. This device will be launched in 2015 and will be, for its market segment, a benchmark regarding technical data. In addition, we will continue to optimize our production capabilities and adapt them to new circumstances. Thus, our service customers can continue to rely on us in the future.
Dr. Leu , thank you for your answers, thoughts and your time.