Background

Bild von Familie Otto

The owners

Behind each company is an owner. In the case of Otto Hydraulics, there are even two. Since the retirement of our co-founder and partner Rainer Kröll in 2005, Otto Hydraulics now belongs completely to Christine and Reinhard Otto. Otto Hydraulics is thus a classic owner-operated company since Reinhard Otto is not only the owner but also the executive manager.

When a spouse is the executive manager of a company and the company belongs to both spouses, the company will principally determine all aspects of one’s own life. Over the course of their (business) life, Christine and Reinhard Otto have experienced much and overcome many things together – they went through all the highs and lows together. Even if Reinhard Otto manages the business of Otto Hydraulics, Christine Otto is at his side with advice and a calming, supportive influence. Current events, challenges and principal decisions are discussed by the two at home. For that reason, and because the Otto family has always had to limit their joint free time due to the enormous amount of time required for work in and at the company, the company determines the life of Christine and Reinhard Otto for the most part.

The owners of Otto Hydraulics are also united in their sense for social commitment. Christine and Reinhard Otto have been committed to a school project in Afghanistan and UNICEF for quite some time. Instead of sending the customers tokens for Christmas each year, the company would rather give for charity.

The successor is on the way

There comes a time when an entrepreneur needs to organise a successor. Many ignore this aspect until it is too late, faced with an unpleasant surprise instead of enjoying one’s well-earned retirement. Otto Hydraulics took measures in time to securely set up the company for the future whilst laying the basis for further growth.

In the summer of 2014, Reinhard Otto purchased the supplier company Hydronic and established the subsidiary Otto Fluid Control GmbH. The daughter of the Otto couple, Caroline, assumed the business because she was fortuitously open to a change in work at this time. Caroline Otto not only manages the business of Otto Fluid Control but is also an active force in all areas of the company.  Her training and past job in the quality department of a large company has benefited her in fulfilling her tasks and challenges.

A few months later, Reinhard Otto hired his nephew Johannes, who has a versatile sales and vocational experience background and who was also open to changing to the hydraulics sector. He has been taking care of the areas Sales and Customer Support as well as Marketing since the autumn of 2014.

When the Otto’s son Felix successfully graduated from his Masters course of study in industrial engineering and operations research in the spring of 2015, he also found his way directly to Otto Hydraulics in a supporting capacity to Reinhard Otto for order processing and many special tasks; Otto Hydraulics was now a completely family-owned business.

The integration of three close family members all within one year put Otto Hydraulics on a firm basis for the future, fit to face the fresh wind blowing in many sectors, taking the load from Reinhard Otto’s shoulders thanks to the even distribution, and releasing new potentials.

Our history

Since the 25-year anniversary of the company Otto Hydraulics, the company has taken many development hurdles, and experienced quite a bit with the consistent change in tasks and projects above all. No matter what came - the company always adapted, became sustainable, and can resort to an enormous wealth of experience. Here is a short insight to our history.

Established the end of the Eighties

At the end of the Eighties, Rainer Kröll began developing and producing hydraulic units and components in the basement and garage of his residence in Friedrichshafen-Berg, Germany. His own company “Kröll Hydrotechnik KG” was established in the summer of 1989. One year later he managed to enthuse his former work colleague Reinhard Otto for industrial hydraulics and acquire him as associate for the company.

The first development boost

En important milestone for the as yet young company was that Vickers, the largest hydraulic provider worldwide at that time, subcontracted the assembly of hydraulic units to the company. Vickers provided individual components and Kröll Hydrotechnik took on the assembly, painting, testing and dispatch to the end customer. These were ideal starting conditions; this generated and expanded sales and know-how with a minor amount of capital expenditure. It soon showed that the orders could no longer be handled in the existing space, and it was decided to rent a new production facility. A location was found in the neighbouring city of Waltenweiler. The personnel of the company also developed further; in addition to the associates and Ms Elke Kröll, the wife of the company founder, 3 employees were now employed.

The company Festo Didactic placed their first orders one year after the relocation – the beginning of a very successful and lasting business relationship.

A large step: renting a production hall

Relocation to a real business industry property took place in 1993; the rooms that had been rented up to that time had become too small. The new premises were situated on the oldest industrial site in Friedrichshafen, the site of the company Hüni in the Eckenerstrasse directly on the shores of Lake Constance. The relocation created an excellent basis for the development and growth of the company.

Establishment

In the following years, Kröll Hydrotechnik continued expanding the production and possibilities of the product range, which was reflected in the rising number of employees. A 2-man garage business had flourished into a genuine medium-sized company. Collaboration with Festo Didactic was expanded – first, only units for the hydraulic power supply of systems manufactured by Festo Didactic were supplied, added to by a number of valves over the course of time.

Also, many different customers were acquired and competencies in terms of system technology, construction and block production were developed further

Milestone CNC mill

The procurement of the first CNC milling centre in 1999 was a huge leap in the history of the company. Thanks to this strategic investment, our dependence on suppliers dropped and we were able to reduce the throughput time for the products. But above all, this step considerably expanded the possibilities of Kröll Hydrotechnik.

Change to Otto Hydraulics

The company founder Rainer Kröll left the company the end of 2005 and took up his well-earned retirement. As of that point, Reinhard Otto managed the company alone, which also caused the name to be changed to Otto Hydraulics GmbH & Ko. KG. In this connection, Mr Otto also decided to shift the head office to a new and modern property, and he found that in the Bunkhofen industrial area. Relocation took place in February 2007. With the new capacities, Otto Hydraulics continued to grow and adjust to the coming boom in the wind energy industry.

Further milestones and upheavals

The “golden time” of wind energy provided Otto Hydraulics with an additional boost. The staff of employees expanded and the company structure developed further. A modern merchandise management system adapted to company-specific matters was put into operation, and a new internet presence was set up. Construction, one of the supporting pillars for company success, was considerably reinforced through the conversion from 2D to 3D.

However, Otto Hydraulics also found out that every boom comes to an end. Otto Hydraulics was caught out in 2010 when the orders from the wind energy industry declined drastically. But the characteristic features of the company – flexibility, adaptability and creativity – proved itself especially well in these times of crises. That is the reason why Otto Hydraulics survived this phase without major cutbacks and was able to mostly compensate for the ceased business.

A more recent strategic investment was the procurement of a fully automatic washing machine for control and valve blocks in the year 2010. The effort together with the indispensable cleaning of control blocks produced in the company was considerably reduced through this investment.

Most recent developments

With the decision to establish a subsidiary – Otto Fluid Control GmbH – the company became less dependent on suppliers. Otto Fluid Control came into being through the takeover of the company Hydronic GmbH, one of Otto Hydraulics’ suppliers. Caroline Otto, the daughter of the owner, was tasked with managing the new company.
In October 2014 the nephew, Johannes Otto, of the company owner joined the company to assume the areas of sales and marketing of the company. In the spring of 2015, when Felix Otto, the son of the owner, joined the company and was entrusted with system project planning and general management assistance, it became clear that Otto Hydraulics had become a real family-owned business, laying the basis for a proper successor.

New internet presence

A modern company also needs a modern, sound internet presence. The current internet site was developed in 2015 together with the company Südsicht, with the intent to specifically express high quality and competence as well as the familiar spirit of Otto Hydraulics. Simple and clear operation with focus on catalogue goods on the one hand and making one’s mark as a developer of individual solutions on the other hand round off the overall concept.