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.
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 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.