Friedhelm Loh Group
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Fifty years of Rittal Sweden: A springboard for international success

“Just do it.” It was with great courage that Rittal – then a small company – ventured abroad in 1971: In the basement of a small Swedish house, the inventor of the volume-produced enclosure founded its first foreign subsidiary. It became the springboard for the company’s worldwide growth from a sheet-metal processor in Germany’s Central Hesse region to an international digital enterprise. On the occasion of Rittal Sweden’s 50th-anniversary celebration, owner Professor Friedhelm Loh and the management and employees in Ängelholm looked back on an extraordinary story and how it will continue.

Herborn, 7. November 2022 – An extraordinary invention for industry, a Swedish market with major competition and the visit to a trade fair by a young and curious electrical engineer: The story of Rittal Sweden shows how this can become a recipe for success in international expansion. The first subsidiary of the then “sheet metal basher” from Central Hesse was the starting point for developing a corporate group that is now globally present and which has made it its mission to drive digitalisation in industry.

Towards the end of the 1960s, the young Swede Lars Johnsson stood at Rittal’s stand at the Hanover Trade Fair and found out about their enclosure – at the time, an idea for the industry that was as simple as it was resounding. A little later, in 1971, he was sitting in his basement as managing director of the first international subsidiary of the Hessian company with the explicit goal of conquering the Swedish market – in the face of all resistance or competition: “We started from scratch, but we quickly won over customers,” Johnsson, who remained CEO of Rittal Sweden until 2013 now recalls. The arguments then and now were reliably high quality, availability from stock, and the 24-hour delivery promise – along with the striving to make the customer successful and to develop new and unexpected solutions.

The Swedish experience provided the blueprint for further expansion. Other subsidiaries followed in France, Belgium, Austria and the UK in the 1970s. Rittal founded its largest subsidiary so far in the USA in 1981, followed in 1997 by a subsidiary in China. Today, the Rittal family has expanded to more than 64 companies around the globe and there are now over 90 companies within the Friedhelm Loh Group. This corporate group offers a combination of hardware and software solutions for almost every industry sector, from engineering software and systems technology to IIoT solutions for smart production.

Being close to the customer is the top priority

Proximity to the customer – that has been the decisive point for decades, Mr Johnsson says regarding “Rittal – The System”. In the 2000s, the focus also expanded to cover Denmark, Finland and Norway: “We have always dared to break new ground for the customer. This has opened doors for Rittal,” says Professor Friedhelm Loh, Owner and CEO of the Friedhelm Loh Group, who is celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary with Norbert Müller, Rittal’s long-serving Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of Management, representatives of the current management team and the subsidiary’s employees.

Thus, the celebration in Ängelholm, Sweden, is also a customer event, being held one year after the official anniversary because of the pandemic: “As the first Rittal subsidiary outside Germany, we are delighted that we can continue to shape the future on such strong foundations,” says Fredrik Wåhlstrand, now managing director of Rittal Scandinavia.

The future needs the past

“We are grateful that we have prospects,” concluded Sebastian Seitz, CEO of Eplan and Cideon, Rittal’s sister companies in the software sector: “The industry is changing towards maximum efficiency, digitalisation and smart production. These are great opportunities for which we are developing future-proof solutions with our customers.”

And with a whole lot of love, says owner Professor Loh to the subsidiary’s employees: “The love for our customers, our solutions and our companies is what makes us tick. You are part of a global family of over 11,000 employees who stand together in times of growth and challenge. I am looking forward to the future with you.”

And with all the other employees in the group, a few more are celebrating (or recelebrating) their 2021 anniversary this year: Meanwhile Rittal China, Mexico and Brazil are marking their 25th anniversary. Furthermore, the colleagues of Rittal’s first overseas subsidiary in the USA, founded in 1981, are also commemorating their 40th anniversary.

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Press release (PDF, 0,10 MB) Image 1 (JPG, 0,39 MB) Image 2 (JPG, 0,45 MB) Image 3 (JPG, 0,87 MB)


Image 1: Founders among themselves: Professor Friedhelm Loh (left) in conversation with Lars Johnsson, who had been Managing Director of Rittal Sweden until 2013.

Image 2: An anniversary that unites Rittal generations: Norbert Müller (left), former Rittal Managing Director and CEO, and Fredrik Wåhlstrand, Managing Director of Rittal Scandinavia.

Image 3: Norbert Müller (left) and Professor Friedhelm Loh (second from right) meet with Lars Johnsson (second from left) and Sven Bläckberg (right) In 1978, the board of directors of Rittal Scandinavia completed Rittal Sweden’s new building in Ängelholm.

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