Böwe Textile Cleaning is back in business as a manufacturer of premium quality drycleaning machines and just as importantly it is now a 100% German company that is family-owned.

Frank Ziermann, the managing director will be promoting this message to international markets and spreading the word to all visitors to the company’s stand at Expo Detergo next month.

Ziermann Holdings became Böwe’s new owner at the beginning of 2010 and Frank Ziermann became the managing director of Böwe Textile Cleaning, which has its headquarters at Bühl.

Ziermann is well qualified to take charge of Böwe. He already has extensive experience of the brand through the family’s traditional business Ziermann GmbH, where he has been managing director since 1995, although this is a separate company.

This business was started by Frank Ziermann’s father some thirty years ago. It has always been a distributor for Böwe in South West Germany but as drycleaning regulations became more stringent, Ziermann GmbH had to change and it expanded into the laundry market. For the past 9 – 10 years it has also been local distributor for Miele. Other brands represented include Sankosha and Veit.

Top quality name

Frank Ziermann is adamant that the Böwe brand will regain its reputation as a top quality name in drycleaning and in doing so he will be assisted by his technical director Michael Bendsen who is also a Danish distributor for Böwe.

But Ziermann realises that the process of establishing the fresh strategy for the brand cannot be rushed.

“First, I wanted to do my homework to prepare the company before it started the serious business of selling,” he says. He recognised that the first machines he sold must re-establish premium quality.

Initially Böwe will focus solely on the established range and only on the smaller machines up to 30kg. It will supply both perc and multisolvent machines and both Premium and Starline ranges.

The structure of the company has changed. The HQ has moved from Augsburg to Bühl in the Karlsruhe region of Germany but it also has a factory at Sasbach. Böwe/Ziermann employs 52 staff in total who work in Germany and at its wholly owned factory Böwe Shanghai and at Böwe Spain.

Quality components

Now everything will be manufactured to the same high standard, using quality components.

For example, says Ziermann, the coils have a rigid construction with a banded design that is specific to Böwe and which ensures that they remain stable within the machine. While some coils are coated to just 7micron, the coating on the coils used in the Böwe machines will now be 70micron and the outer casing will be 100% stainless steel.

Under the new ownership

pre-assembly will still be carried our in Shanghai but by a different company. Böwe Shanghai is a 100% German company and the philosophy has changed. Everybody within the company takes responsibility for their own part of the production and signs for it. Böwe technical manager, Thomas Schweizer is often in Shanghai to keep an eye on the pre-assembly process.

The Shanghai factory will only produce the machine’s hardware and piping and it will use the quality components that are shipped to it from Germany.

Finished in Germany

The machines will be finished at the German factories at Bühl and Sasbach and these will be responsible for the software and the electronics, the dosing equipment and for making the final adjustments.

When LCNi visited the company in June it had just taken delivery of the first shipment of machines produced under the new ownership.

The quality that Ziermann is re-establishing will not only apply to the machine production but to the support.

Over its lifetime every machine will need occasional repairs so the availability of spares will be core to the necessary support.

The Bühl headquarters occupy approximately 2,000m2 and the spares store takes 700m2 of that space and houses approximately 12,000 units. Ziermann says that 98% of spares can be supplied within a day.

Re-establishing a quality range of products is just the first stage of the Ziermann strategy. The second stage is making sure that the distributor network is strong by finding good companies to represent the brand in areas where it has not previously been represented.

Proactive distributors

Ziermann says that is important that distributors that take the Böwe machines have the right approach to selling and promoting the brand.

”We are now a family-owned firm that makes good machines but the dealers have to be proactive. It is no longer enough to sit back and wait for the orders to come in.”

Ziermann is aware that Böwe has lost share in some areas because some of the distributors would only sell Böwe-made equipment.

But in that situation what happens when customers want equipment that Böwe doesn’t make? The customer goes to a competitor and the Böwe dealer has lost business.

Ziermann explains: “We want dealers who will be able to supply a full range.”

So he says that he will make sure that his distributors are supplied not only with drycleaning machines but with a range of laundry equipment and with drycleaning finishing equipment.

Some of these additional machines will be badged but Böwe will make it clear where it is supplying equipment that it does not produce.

That is already happening. For example, Böwe Spain has also been selling badged laundry equipment in its home market for many years. It will now sell these machines to Böwe distributors worldwide.

Similarly, the distributor company Ziermann GmbH at Sasbach has been selling a range of ironing equipment for some time and will be able to sell these products to other Böwe dealers.

Ziermann says that Böwe brand will be pitched at the top and the middle of the market with a selection of high quality products but its distributors will also have access to a wider range of products which can be used to secure additional sales and will also allow dealers to sell up to the Böwe brand.

However realistically, Frank Ziermann recognises that in certain parts of the world more competitively priced products will be needed and those too will be available.