Company Profile: Schulte Elektrotechnik

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    Lüdenscheid is a city with a history as a centre of metalworking. Growing out of the mining of iron ore in the surrounding hills, the town grew its industries, becoming part of the Hanseatic League of trading states. The industries grew together and provide a centre of excellence in electrical and lighting manufacture, aluminium profile manufacture and toys.

    Built around the crest of a hill, around which fortified walls ran, the small old town is a part of a modern bustling city, symbolic of the renaissance of Germany over the last half century. The structures and ownership model of German industry have been much admired in the UK, but the service given to industry both through the education system and the banking and investment community are what is really missing from the British search for quick, short term fixes. The communal attitudes and determination to rebuilding are what characterises both the community of Lüdenscheid and the individual companies that make the strength of German manufacturing.Schulte grew out of the inventiveness and creativity of Siegfried Schulte. An independent engineer Schulte patented a number of products, some of which, like the first stalk switch for automobiles, which combined everything from the blinkers to steering wheel lights he licensed to other manufacturers in Lüdenscheid. Many of the factory owners know each other and much of the materials, such as aluminium extrusions, needed in Schulte production processes come from local companies. This cooperative working reinforces the inventiveness and engineering skills across the community. The environment it fosters is supported through the company social engagement with the town too, unlike some British manufacturers who find themselves obstructed by their local communities antipathy to manufacturing.

    Siegfried Schulte was awarded the Rudolf Diesel gold medal by Federal Council of Germany President Johannes Rau for the invention of the first self-regulating residual-current circuit breaker for decentralized use. Some of his over 300 patents form the basis of the production line in Schulte Elektrotechnik, including ‘dead man’ switches which leading manufacturers still build into millions of appliances today.

    Daniel Fountain / 11.03.2013

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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