50 years of Bertrandt!

This year is a very special year for us: we are celebrating 50 years of Bertrandt! We have a lot planned to mark this special milestone - stay tuned!

Milestones in Bertrandt's 50-Year Journey: 1974-1993

In 1974, Harry Bertrandt ventured into entrepreneurship. With a background as a seasoned engineer, he founded the Bertrandt Engineering Firm right in the confines of his apartment study in Möglingen.


After relocating to Freiberg in 1977, the Bertrandt engineering office established its first branch in Sindelfingen in 1980, comprising 17 employees. Even then, a diversification of services was already apparent, consisting of toolmaking (20%), mechanical engineering (29%), and motor vehicles (51%). In addition, Heinz Kenkmann, who would later become a member of the Management Board, joined the engineering firm during this period.


Our former CEO and current Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dietmar Bichler, began his career as a freelancer in 1982. During this time, additional locations were established in Heilbronn and Ingolstadt to expand our customer proximity and manage our initial major projects. Our first international branch was opened in France in 1984. According to contemporary witnesses, the language within Bertrandt's German offices during that that time was dubbed "Fradenglish" (comprising of 60% English, 30% French, and 10% German).

The Neckarsulm/Heilbronn site was founded in 1985. In Ingolstadt, significant investments were made in CAD technology for the first time, alongside the introduction of the first fax machine. In 1989, Bertrandt pushed ahead into new business sectors, including rapid prototyping and model making. Simultaneously, Harry Bertrandt initiated strategic succession planning for the company, focusing on two pivotal figures: Heinz Kenkmann, a shareholder since 1984, and Dietmar Bichler, who had overseen operations at the new Bad Cannstatt branch since 1987.

In 1990, Bertrandt had 240 employees, 49 CAD workstations and generated an annual revenue of approximately $35.5 million. In 1993, founder Harry Bertrandt formally handed over the company to Dietmar Bichler and Heinz Kenkmann (see picture). In the same year, the Rüsselsheim and Cologne sites were founded.

In 1993, during the management buy-out, Bertrandt consisted of eight branches with around 300 employees and 70 CAD workstations. Following the management buy-out, the company underwent a significant expansion, picking up momentum. The way  Bertrandt was managed as a company also changed thanks to the flat structures and tangible Management Board members. The palpable Bertrandt spirit, akin to a close-knit family, became increasingly contagious.


I strongly believe that this spirit still exists today.

Maximilian Wölfle, Annual Report

The years 1994 - 2003

In 1994, Bertrandt guaranteed its customers the continuity of data from design to production with the new prototype construction facility in Ludwigsburg-Tamm. This marked a significant milestone for the company. Also, this year, Bertrandt made its debut appearance at the "EuroMold" trade show in Frankfurt, emphasizing rapid prototyping as its focal point. Concurrently, Bertrandt established its UK subsidiary. The following year, 1995, the Wolfsburg and Munich sites followed suit and the company employed around 520 people. Other notable events include Bertrandt's first participation at the IAA in Frankfurt and the launch of its first internal company publication, "Bert" magazine.


1996 marked a pivotal year for Bertrandt, as the IPO laid the foundation for robust future growth. The former GmbH transitioned into an AG. On the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the Bertrandt share was described as one of the most sought-after new issues of the year. In the year of the IPO, Dietmar Bichler was elected to the Management Board of Bertrandt AG in Tamm, assuming responsibility for technology, sales, and human resources. Additionally, Bertrandt initiated its first training programs for office clerks and office management assistants in Tamm, Heilbronn, and Rüsselsheim. The establishment of the Spanish branch marked yet another significant milestone.



Until then, no one had any idea what was needed for an IPO. Normally, consultants were always involved. However, Bertrandt has always stood out because we have said: We can do anything. We didn't shy away, that's also a kind of educational issue. Everything is doable. You just can't be afraid of the work and you have to tackle it if there's really no other way, you can get someone else to do it!

Harry Bertrandt

The following two years were characterized above all by major technical achievements. 1998 also saw the start of development of the Bertrandt Competence Car (BCC), which was the first ready-to-drive prototype in Bertrandt's history and significantly advanced the company's expertise. The BCC was subsequently showcased at several roadshows and trade fairs. Notably, it was presented at the IAA in 1999 utilizing virtual reality and accompanying eyewear for presentation. Witnesses recall the presentation was projected on a large, backlit screen. Furthermore, 1998 saw the inception of plans for our current corporate headquarters in Ehningen. Organizational adjustments were made within management, including restructuring department heads and KAMs, thereby enhancing our capacity for large-scale projects.


The year 1999 marked the halfway point in our series of milestones, as Bertrandt AG celebrated its 25th anniversary. At that time, Bertrandt had approximately 2,400 employees and achieved sales of just under 288 million, with an EBIT rate of 10%. To honor this occasion, the Management Board extended an invitation to all employees, along with their partners and children, to spend a weekend in the Swabian Alb. Over 1,000 people, including employees from France and England, gathered for the celebration, coming together to spend the night.


In 2000, Fahrzeugtechnik Tamm, Böblingen-Hulb, and Holding Tamm relocated to the newly built headquarters in Ehningen. There, hardware and engineering were brought together wtihin the technical center, allowing for an integration of expertise. At that same time, Ehningen hosted the first Bertrandt soccer tournament.
With the founding of the Hamburg branch, Bertrandt ventured into the aviation industry, marking a milestone. In 2001, Dietmar Bichler assumed the role of Chairman of the Management Board of Bertrandt AG. This transition coincided with an organizational restructuring, which introduced an expanded Management Board framework. Additionally, the first Success Meeting took place, aiming to convene all managers annually to receive direct insights from the Management Board and foster cross-branch information exchange. Furthering its global footprint, Bertrandt strengthened its international presence by launching the Bertrandt US site in Detroit, demonstrating a commitment to internationalization and market expansion.


In the years that followed, Bertrandt continued to advance technologically. Following the unveiling of the design study for the smart crossblade at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show, and Bertrandt's successful presentation of a feasibility study, we were brought on board as the general contractor. By 2003, the smart design study became a limited production vehicle. That year, Bertrandt launched its first customer magazine, marking another significant milestone. To facilitate strategic and organizational restructuring, a matrix organization was also created in collaboration with the Management Zentrum St. Gallen guided by the principle of "Networking for Strength". 


Stay tuned - you will soon find out how the Bertrandt story will continue in 2004!