Seventy years ago, the ideas and strategies developed in a small, private apartment in Lörrach, Germany, set the building blocks of an eventual multibillion-dollar company. Swiss engineer Dr. Georg H. Endress, only 29 years old then, and German bank manager Ludwig Hauser, 58, launched the company on the back of 2,000 Deutschemarks and a knack for electronic level measurement technology.
Endress’s instrumentation expertise and Hauser’s business savviness proved to be the perfect match. For 40 years, Endress led the company across new markets and fields of application. After Endress’s tenure, his son, Dr. Klaus Endress, led the company along with strong involvement from the Endress family. In 2014, Matthias Altendorf would fill those shoes.
Today, Endress+Hauser employs 16,000 and generates more than $3.6 billion in yearly sales. The company now owns sales centers in more than 50 countries and production centers on four continents.
In 1970, as Endress+Hauser continued its growth as a global player, the company started its US operations. This move has proven to be a vital part of the organization’s overall success.
One important philosophy of the company is to manufacture for each region of the world in the region. And, this is true for the North American region and the US specifically. Because of that, 85%-90% of everything the company sells to its US customers is built in the US. It’s an important piece of the value we offer our customers in the US, according to Todd Lucey, general manager of Endress+Hauser USA.
As the US business continues to grow—it currently stands at more than $600 million in revenue—company executives such as Lucey are quick to credit the enduring relationships they’ve established with customers and representative partners as the keys to the evolution of the business. “The company has evolved over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers which has included more and new services and solutions based on and customized to our customers’ specific needs for their own growth and success. That is especially true as many companies are experiencing challenges to keep the same numbers of people and thus the capabilities of subject matter experts at the plant level. Moreover, those pressures continue to mount as more workers retire and new generations opt for other industries.
“Experts [at the plant] are harder to find,” Lucey says. And that’s where Endress+Hauser can be of service to its customers.
As a family-owned group, Endress+Hauser has always focused on people and maintaining and building relationships with its customers over its 70 years of existence. While that’s not always easy, considering the ups and downs of the market and the occasional super-disrupter such as the pandemic, the ability to continue investing even during difficult situations has been an advantage. More importantly, having stable, family-owned leadership has helped keep the focus on people, especially the workforce and Endress+Hauser’s domain expertise. Lucey says not having to reduce the workforce under challenging times has prepared the Group to offer its customers added value support with specific applications, instrumentation, services and solutions and retain knowledgeable talent in the organization.
That includes recent endeavors into becoming what the company terms “a main instrument vendor” (MIV). The project-oriented concept focuses on services from front-end engineering design to procurement, warehousing, receipt verification, startup and commissioning. Lucey says the company has done “more than 20 MIV contracts with customers in recent years.”
Endress+Hauser USA works completely with representatives as its sales channel and has continued to refine its partnerships with its representatives over the past two decades. The critical part of success in this model is finding representative organizations with leadership and ownership that have the same culture as Endress+Hauser. That culture includes reinvestment into the business, growing the business, and willingness, for example, to take a 25-person representative organization and grow it to 100 people. According to Lucey, those are the types of commitments that Endress+Hauser USA has from all its representatives.
“We see them just as Endress+Hauser and they see themselves as Endress+Hauser,” Lucey says. “I always tell people that a typical representative-principal relationship has a lot of dynamics to it. We have different dynamics in the model that we’ve chosen with our representatives, but the resolution to the dynamics is that we’re all one team, and one team is strong enough to withstand individual dynamics that you might have with one representative versus another.
“We had an inflection point when we brought on our representative partner, TriNova, in 2002. This fundamentally changed how we viewed our channel partners.”
Some representative organizations were formed from the ground up to partner with Endress+Hauser USA. One of those representatives, Vector Controls and Automation Group, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Endress+Hauser was the driver behind the creation of Vector Controls and Automation Group formed from merging six smaller organizations together. “I think that was significant just because we were trying to find the right representative organizations and we didn’t have a good way to do that,” Lucey says. “Bringing those organizations together was something most people said couldn’t be done and wouldn’t work. It was very complicated, with many owners and different thoughts. It took a long time, but we all stuck with it. Jared Boudreaux [president and managing director] and the leadership at Vector made that happen.”
Vector Controls and Automation Group shares Endress+Hauser USA’s facility in Houston, Texas, which was inaugurated in 2021. In addition, Endress+Hauser continues to make investments in new projects and buildings.
“Family leadership sees the growth of the North American market as critical,” Lucey says. “We’re 12% to 15% market share [in the U.S.]. We want to be at 25%, 30% market share. So, the growth opportunity is still here.”
In its 70-year history, Endress+Hauser has always been in the business of doing good business. And just as history does, it repeats itself.