35 years of STEMMER IMAGING – Interview with Arne Dehn (CEO) and Uwe Kemm (COO) on the company's anniversary
27 Jul 2022 | Reading time: 3 min
Arne Dehn (CEO) and Uwe Kemm (COO), STEMMER IMAGING
On 27 July 2022, our company is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
In this interview with the Executive Board, we look back at the most important milestones on our way from a medium-sized family business to a publicly listed corporation and why we are excited about what the future holds for us.
Mr. Dehn, let's start at the very beginning. What were the most important milestones in STEMMER IMAGING's history?
Arne Dehn: Our success story began with the entry of STEMMER IMAGING GmbH in the commercial register on 27 July 1987. Important milestones in our now 35-year company history were the introduction of our own software Common Vision Blox (CVB) 25 years ago, the next steps in Europe in 2004 with the first subsidiaries in the UK, France and Switzerland, and then our partnership with Primepulse in 2017 followed by our IPO one year later, most recently our entry into the Spanish market three years ago. Since then, our network of subsidiaries cover the whole of Europe as well as Mexico and Brazil in Latin America.
Mr. Kemm, how has the company developed since then?
Uwe Kemm: Continuity and change, what some might see as two opposing poles, characterise our path. Continuity creates trust. Change makes it possible to keep up with developments in the market, or maybe even enjoy a slight leading edge. The last few years may have called for even more change and flexibility on our part than in the preceding decades. Issues such as advancing digitalisation and the covid pandemic have required many new ways of working. Looking back, we can say that the great commitment of our employees has made us stronger as a company than ever before: In the last five years, we have grown by an average of 12 percent per annum. Despite all the changes, one thing remains very important – we are and we want to continue to be a trustworthy partner for our customers and suppliers.
We have never been as diversified in terms of the markets we serve as we are today: in recent years, our machine vision solutions are increasingly being used in non-industrial markets such as sports and entertainment. We call these non-industrial applications "artificial vision". We now generate 40 percent of our total revenue with artificial vision solutions, however we have also been able to significantly expand our presence in our original industrial field of machine vision and open up new markets such as battery production.
You have already mentioned the buzzword digitalisation. What role does digitalisation play for STEMMER IMAGING?
Uwe Kemm: The automation of production and business processes has been a major part of our success since the company was founded. With the advancing possibilities of digitalisation, we have made another quantum leap forward and have been able to further automate manufacturing tasks, for example. In the meantime, digital processes have become part and parcel of our everyday business life. We are firmly convinced that digitalisation pays off, it makes communication with colleagues and business partners more transparent, it allows us to use our resources more efficiently and to increase our production capacity.
In the future, we will continue to expand digital channels for faster access to our customers. For example, we are planning to use our website as a commercial platform in the medium term; this could include everything from the pure exchange of information though to automating order processing. However, we still value and engage in direct personal dialogue with our customers in the traditional way. Ultimately, digital transformation speeds up processes creating even more time for personal discussions.
How does STEMMER IMAGING stand out today? What is "special" and what are you proud of?
Arne Dehn: In addition to our comprehensive product portfolio, which is unique in the industry, and our manufacturer-independent consulting expertise, it is our attitude, which Uwe Kemm also mentioned earlier, that sets us apart: We live and breathe constant change in all areas of the company which I am really proud of.
Our team does not stand still, always moving forward together – no matter whether it is about optimising work processes or introducing new products and technologies. This requires a high degree of resilience. It is not always easy and sometimes even a little bit painful, but standing still does not fit with STEMMER IMAGING. Even tough tasks that seem impossible to solve motivate us to find the right solution.
STEMMER IMAGING has been an international player since 2004. How is the company positioned in the international market?
Arne Dehn: We currently serve more than 20 countries worldwide. Since the acquisition of our Spanish subsidiary Infaimon, we are not just located in Europe, but also in South America. A multilingual local support service tailored to customer needs, together with high levels of stock and optimised delivery performance is the key to our international success. Our results prove this as we now generate around 60 per cent of our business outside Germany.
We also want to take the anniversary as an opportunity to have a look ahead. How do you see STEMMER IMAGING's role in the future?
Arne Dehn: The market for machine vision solutions is huge and still growing due to the increasing quality and sustainability requirements for products. This means there is still a lot of opportunities for STEMMER IMAGING. We are passionate about machine vision and want to continue to shape the future of the industry together with our partners.
We plan to further expand new and emerging markets such as the entertainment sector and of course, we also want to further increase our revenue. This year, for the first time, we are aiming to increase our revenue to 143-156 million euros, and in the medium term even to 200 million euros.
STEMMER IMAGING has an above-average number of employees who have been with the company for many years. What makes STEMMER IMAGING an attractive employer?
Uwe Kemm: First of all, we offer our employees a job that is characterised by creative freedom with room for personal initiative and self-fulfilment – complemented by a working environment driven by interesting, inspiring and technology-driven applications.
The continuous growth of our company coupled with our international focus means that we can offer very good career opportunities. Combining individual needs through flexible working hours or the possibility of working from home is not just words for us, it is a reality. And what is most important: We see ourselves as a team and enjoy working together.
Mr. Dehn, let's finish the interview with a personal question: Do you have a special experience or story that you particularly like to remember?
Arne Dehn: When I started at STEMMER IMAGING in 2019, I introduced the so-called "Team Updates": Once a quarter, all employees came together for a personal exchange and update. In the meantime, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this format has to take place digitally, but I have fond memories of these personal meetings. For me, it shows that digital processes cannot completely substitute the personal dialogue. Recently, we were able to get together in person for the first time in more than two years and celebrate our 35th anniversary with all our colleagues. I think this celebration was a special experience not only for us, but for the entire team, and made us even stronger as a team.