From bar counter with bar ice cooling to a modern system builder for the industrial gastronomy. In addition, rail vehicles with on-board restaurants from Röttingen move the entire world.
Röttingen. It is the craftsmanship and know-how of the 70 employees that guarantee the company's competitive edge: the in-house production depth of customized products is unique in the sector. Now the company celebrates its 100th anniversary with an eventful history.
What does a tourist on the panorama train "Rocky Mountaineer" in Canada have in common with the employees of Siemens in Vienna, Swarovski in Switzerland or also the world-famous DAX companies Daimler, BMW, Adidas, Deutsche Post, Linde, Volkswagen? What common ground do the employees of Airbus in Hamburg or the Axel Springer publishing house in Berlin share with the visitors of the Neue Landesmesse in Stuttgart, the castle in Heidelberg, the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, or with the soccer fans in Ingolstadt or Düsseldorf or also the students of the universities in Tübingen or Marburg? Correct: When they benefit from the gastronomic offer of train restaurants, company canteens, cafeterias or exhibition halls, they make use of refrigeration, heating and presentation furniture manufactured by Winkler Design GmbH & Co. KG from Röttingen, Germany.
Even the return and rinsing technology as well as the dishes themselves - as a full-service supplier, Winkler Design also takes care of practical solutions for everyday catering with several hundreds to several thousands of diners. The illustrious reference list is by no means complete, as the European Patent Office in Munich, Dr. Oetker in Bielefeld, Trumpf in Ditzingen, Ratiopharm in Ulm or the insurance company Lalux in Luxembourg were also among the customers in the recent past. "The longer I think about it, the more I realize that there are still so many customer names missing," smiles plant manager Rudi Schmitt, "and we haven't even talked about customers of the on-board restaurants for rail vehicles industry yet." Winkler Design is currently building - or has built in the recent past - restaurants for passengers of high-speed and tourist trains in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Italy, Azerbaijan, Canada and Sweden.
A look back
On February 1, 1921, the company was founded by Georg Winkler in Röttingen. Originally, the company focused on the construction of refrigerated furniture and store fittings. Back then, bar ice was used for cooling and was set into the furniture in cut blocks. "Unfortunately, when we moved to our current location, the old furniture was all destroyed," regrets Rudi Schmitt. The wheel of technical progress continued to turn: soon refrigerators were equipped with cooling units, but still largely made of wood, and the interior was lined with galvanized sheet metal; later, stainless steel came into use. Based on this original business, the company specialized in the manufacturing of special equipment in the field of communal catering.
Today's customers are major industries that provide meals for many employees, customers and guests on a daily basis. The philosophy of the company canteen has evolved over the past decades ‘from a necessary evil to fill up quickly and cheaply' to a point of communication that serves as a place of recreation for employees. Today, a company restaurant is considered a soft location factor in the competition for the best employees, healthy food is offered under the aspect of preventive health care, and sustainability is also focused on. "The word 'wellness' describes the function of today's company catering quite well," said Marcus Wirthwein in his address to the staff at a staff party - which was only held on a small scale for reasons of corona - to thank them for their commitment throughout the years.
At the end of the 1960s, the company built its first on-board restaurant facilities for rail vehicles. "We really started and continuously developed this business area from around the mid-1980s," recalls plant manager Rudi Schmitt. Winkler Design began with the furnishing of Interregio trains, building up and developing expertise in the process. "The standards and specifications are very high, so there are only a few market competitors," explains Schmitt. He uses the example of fire protection to illustrate the competencies that the company has built up, just as he focuses on furniture fastening taking into account the vehicle structure, centrifugal forces, torsion during braking and acceleration in order to emphasize the know-how of the workforce. Winkler Design has established itself as the European market leader, on-board restaurants from the production in Röttingen operate worldwide in high-speed trains as well as tourist trains, where thousands of guests are served every day.
Subsidiary of the Wirthwein-Group
In 1978, the Winkler family sold their company to the Hochstatter group of companies. The location of the company remained in Rothenburger Straße. In 1988, the new office and production building was erected at the current location Im Wasen 2, because production had to be carried out over three floors at the old location: Transporting bulky furniture up- and downstairs severely limited production capabilities. The move took place in 1989, the previous company premises on Rothenburger Straße were sold to Eibe company. The Hochstatter Group went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, which is why Udo Wirthwein bought the Winkler company in 1995. Since then, Winkler Design has been the third subsidiary of the now globally active Wirthwein Group with presently 22 companies and around 3,500 employees.
In 2003, Winkler Design took over the Mathes company in Würzburg and since then has been a full-service provider from the manufacturing of counter equipment, large kitchens including the associated rinsing technology up to the necessary equipment, china, cutlery and glasses. "All from one source with a vertical range of manufacture that no one else on the market can offer apart from Winkler Design," says Rudi Schmitt in praise of the 70 or so employees, all of whom are specialists in their trade. From sales to design, system production by in-house metalworkers, carpenters and electricians, the responsibility extends to on-site assembly by in-house fitters. "We ensure quality and functionality from design to commissioning at the customer's site," guarantees plant manager Schmitt, "because there is nothing worse than when a counter, for example, and thus the food delivery system does not work at lunchtime with many hungry employees who all want to get back to work in 30 minutes."
The fact that Winkler Design guarantees high quality is also demonstrated by customers coming back again and again over the course of many years - for example, when another location needs to be equipped or a new building, an expansion or an audit is due. "Customers know that we manufacture everything in-house, so they have the security of knowing that we can carry out repairs or replace worn parts even after many years," says the plant manager. In addition to the know-how of its employees, Winkler Design relies on continuous investment in new machinery and equipment in order to be able to manufacture with state-of-the-art technology. Examples of this are a laser cutting machine for the production of dimensionally accurate sheets or a modern panel-sizing saw for resource-saving and optimal utilization of the raw panels as well as a modern machining center for milling and doweling furniture parts in the joinery. Investments are also constantly being made in the building infrastructure; the most visible sign of Winkler being a modern company in the interior design business is the office complex completed in 2008, which with its glazed semi-circular appearance still bears witness to the openness to modern design coupled with maximum functionality. "The highest good, however, are the 70 employees, all of whom are skilled workers with years of expertise in their field," emphasizes Marcus Wirthwein, who will continue to rely on training his own skilled workers in the future. The company trains carpenters and metalworkers as well as technical product designers. Winkler Design also offers interesting job opportunities for skilled workers. Daily updated vacancies with the possibility to directly apply online can be found on the recently redesigned website www.winklerdesign.de.