Dusseldorf Heiner Ophardt does not want to join the growing corona hysteria. On the contrary: his company of the same name from Issum on the Lower Rhine region benefits from the fact that hygiene requirements in hospitals, doctor’s offices and public buildings are increasing rapidly.
“At the moment, we have received so many orders that we can hardly handle them,” says the managing partner of the family company Ophardt Hygiene. The 58-year-old manufactures such devices that dispense disinfectants at the push of a button or without contact, for example to disinfect hands after using the toilet.
“I assume that we can increase our sales by 30 to 50 percent this year,” he expects. Last year he had sales of almost 100 million euros. Ophardt bases its forecast on the so-called “swine flu”, which spread about ten years ago. “Back then, our sales doubled within six months.”
Not that he would like a pandemic, but “it seems that at the moment it can no longer be prevented”, as the current development shows. He wants to ensure that as few people as possible are infected or transmit the virus.
But an epidemic such as the spread of the corona virus is a special case for Ophardt and his specialist company. “Our core business is always the fight against multi-resistant germs, for example in hospitals,” says Ophardt in a telephone interview that he leads from Canada.
Because there the company has one of eight locations worldwide. And these are not just sales branches, but factories in which he also produces the donors. The vertical range of manufacture is large for a company of this size with a total of 600 employees. “We manufacture virtually all parts of the equipment ourselves,” emphasizes Ophardt.
Hygiene for hospitals
However, the company is a pure hardware manufacturer. The bottles with the liquids are supplied by different manufacturers. According to the IHO industry association in Frankfurt, the market for disinfectants in Germany is shared by companies with over 6,000 employees and an industry turnover of recently one billion euros.
The mechatronics engineer leads the company in the second generation. His father Hermann, also an engineer, founded it in 1962 in a garage in Issum, the place more known for its Diebels Alt. He invented a dispenser system to distribute the alcohol-based disinfectants to the hands in a finely dosed manner using a pump, an operating lever and exchangeable bottles for the liquid.
His son Heiner grew up on the Lower Rhine, graduated as an engineer from the Technical University of Berlin and moved to Ontario two years later, where he built his father’s Canada business for over 20 years. In 2011 the son finally took over the company management. The father retired and now, at 78, is making something completely different: aluminum hulls for fire and police boats.
In the meantime, son Heiner is trying to expand the business, which has so far been divided halfway between North America and Europe, to other regions of the world. He is just starting in Armenia to develop Russia from there. From the Philippines, he wants to build up the Asian business.
As in Europe, there are competitors there that manufacture dispensers for disinfectants. But Ophardt is not worried that they could outstrip him. “We don’t sell finished products, but develop special solutions for the respective customer,” says Ophardt.
He invests most of the profit in research and development. He is also not very worried about company succession. One son already works in the Canadian branch, another takes care of worldwide marketing in Issum.
More: Many are already hoarding food as supplies – although no place has been isolated on a large scale in Germany.