Visionary lord of the manor and realistic entrepreneur
When the trained book printer and typographer pursued another business idea in the middle of the 90‘s in Nettetal in the Lower Rhine region, in addition to his printing press, no-one could have imagined that it would go on to become the biggest selling German maker of soundcards. Today Terra-Tec is one of the most innovative multi-media companies in Europe. But for Walter Grieger it is not just about making a quick euro on the stock market; instead he concentrates on establishing a sustainable brand of modern and innovative products.
Nettetal. “I’m like a permanent feature of the Lower Rhine region,” Walter Grieger says during a conversation at his 11th century castle in the Lower Rhine. “I really like visiting other countries, but I always like coming back. This is where I call home.” Nine years ago the successful entrepreneur purchased an old farmhouse with a mighty medieval gatehouse at the foot of the ruins of Bocholtz castle, and over the years he has turned it into a chic home and business quarters. “I had to invest a great deal of money in order to sustain all this.” For this reason, parts of the historical courtyard are used for private and business events.
Grieger always wanted to boost the Lower Rhine regional economy. And he succeeded in doing so in a most impressive manner. The entire development, marketing and sales of his company are located in the Lower Rhine region, while the production takes place in Asia. In Kaldenkirchen TerraTec employs about 50 staff, who generated almost 24 million euros in the last financial year. “Most of my staff are specialists and come from this region,” the TerraTec boss says happily.
Today the manufacture of external sound cards and high-quality audio systems for the production of electronic sounds form part of the core business, along with video post production. However, the Lower Rhine company generates two thirds of its revenue in the TV business. TerraTec is the number two company in the German-speaking countries of Europe in the area of satellite, cable and DVB-T reception. “We have always been pioneers when it came to acting on innovative new trends,” Walter Grieger continued. Terra-Tec is the clear number one and market leader in the development of Internet radio. The Noxon brand, which has almost become a synonym for this sector, has put the company ahead of the game. Furthermore, the latest coup from the Lower Rhine innovation hotspot: the new Noxon iRadio Cube, an ingeniously simple cube for receiving Internet radio by TerraTec. The company is continuing to build on and perfect its famous Noxon concept. Over 11,000 stations from all round the world, thousands of podcasts, all the Bundesliga football matches and exciting additional services are all available at your fingertips with a fool-proof device anyone can use.
Yet the international financial crisis and consumers’ reluctance to make purchases was felt by Walter Grieger’s company too. “This negative development really did hit us hard,” the canny businessman says. But he wouldn’t be Walter Grieger if he didn’t have a solution ready at hand. “We don’t need any state aid to get out of trouble. Together with our highly motivated staff we will manage by the strength of our own efforts. I’m quite sure there.” Now he is placing all his hopes in cooperation agreements with leading companies from the telecommunications industry. “The added value we create with our products will also convince the big players in the industry.”
And what does the future look like on the Lower Rhine? Walter Grieger isn’t leaving anything to chance. He recently bought the building of the former jeans labels “Witboy” in Kaldenkirchen. Once it’s been converted, he wants to house four of his firms under the shared roof of the Nettetal media park: the small specialist company CIPS, a full service provider in the IT sector and the original TerraTec company, the digital printing department Druckcon of his 100-man printing business. The sales company including storage and logistics will move too. The forth to move is the Internet dealer “Wolffs Store”, also one of the Grieger companies. Around 3,000 packages per month are sold to private and business customers via an auction house on the Internet.
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