Valves and fittings for the world
As a town, Oedt is typical for the Lower Rhine. Once an independent entity, it is now assigned to Grefrath (in the Viersen region), and looks back over a long, colourful history from its geographical location amid wonderful countryside. In addition, the larger cities of Krefeld and Mönchengladbach are close by. And – yet another feature of this region – Oedt is also a source of good ideas and energetic entrepreneurs. The best example must be the Pfeiffer Chemical Valves & Fittings company, even if the company is now located in neighbouring Kempen. "Firmly rooted in the region, and represented the world over" – this is how Marcus Miertz, Managing Director of the company, describes the philosophy behind it. The company in the Lower Rhine area has an astonishing history. It all started more than 40 years ago. In 1974, Horst Pfeiffer set up a modest one-man business in Grefrath Oedt. Twenty years before that, when he was living in Babelsberg (Potsdam, near Berlin), he had started his apprenticeship with a boiler maker.
The idea behind his company (and if necessary, he would work through days and nights non-stop) was to coat the insides of fittings for the chemicals industry with Teflon to protect them against acids, alkalis and aggressive gases. This plastic, known by most as a non-stick coating on frying pans, had decisive advantages over the ceramics used hitherto: it is relatively cheap and is not so susceptible to large temperature changes. After all, industrial fittings are in use all over the world, whether in the desert or close to the polar circles, so they have to keep functioning even under extreme conditions.
This idea became a great success story. The factory, at its Kempen location, now employs more than 200 staff. "We manufacture everything that companies need to regulate or block mass flows", explains the manager, who comes from close-by Wachtendonk. This includes not only fittings but also disk valves, stopcocks and pigs. This term has nothing to do with the animal of that name. This is a method for checking and cleaning piping. Pfeiffer may supply standard products, as well, but its core competency is in providing special-purpose, bespoke solutions. "We can supply single units, if required", emphasises Marcus Miertz. This medium-sized company in Kempen manufactures parts that cannot be sourced anywhere else. With some processes, we have to apply 100 per cent manual work. "So we do not talk about mass production, it's more bespoke engineering", says the trained engineer.
And the business relationship does not end with the sale. "We are always ready to assist the customer", stresses the Managing Director, because modifications during normal day-to-day activities can occur at any time. This may happen, for instance, if the various chemicals in the pipes combine to make a mixture that is not described anywhere in a data sheet. This is where a visit to the site and intensive discussion and exchange of information are essential. "We are particularly pleased when we can work together with the client to develop a solution."
Pfeiffer's capabilities are well-known on all six continents. This means it is a great advantage that this limited company (GmbH) has belonged to the Samson Group since the mid-1990s, a family-owned joint stock company based in Frankfurt. The way this combination of individuals from the Frankfurt region and the Lower Rhine operate together is described like this: "We are active wherever substances flow: oils, gases, vapours, chemical substances." The core business is valves. "In our main market and parts of Europe we are very well-known by our own name", says Marcus Miertz. At a global level, however, the name and distribution network of the parent company are beneficial. The main customer groups are the chemicals and petrochemicals industries and food processing companies. But technology from Kempen is also to be found in the manufacture of insulin and antibiotics.
The Pfeiffer chemical fittings company itself is well situated for the future. Only recently have their processes been reviewed and optimised where appropriate, and this has been possible without any major staff changes. "The entire team got really involved", says the boss enthusiastically. Space for potential expansion of the premises has already been planned: besides the existing 13,000 square metre site, there is an additional empty site directly opposite the company headquarters covering 16,000 square metres.
Pfeiffer Chemie-Armaturenbau GmbH
Hooghe Weg 41
Phone: +49 2152 2005-0
Fax: +49 2152 1580
As of beginning 2017