Originally a watchmaker and goldsmith, Hans Schmidbauer started his business in the small town of Singen in Southern Germany, close to the Swiss border and in the vicinity of the south German watch manufacturers. His first machine was a semi-automatic cleaning machine for watches that he had designed himself. In the economically successful years after the war the small business expanded rapidly and soon manufactured other machines for the watch and jewellery workshops. This was also the time when the first export activities started. International awards were proof of the solid quality of the ELMA machines. Soon, watchmakers all over the world linked the name ELMA with the slogan “Made in Germany”. This good reputation has lasted to the present day. Even now, machines sold in the very first years of the business are returned to Singen for maintenance and repair.
The ultrasonic technology was introduced to the watch and jewellery branches in the 60s. Formerly laborious and hazardous cleaning methods could now be replaced by new, safer ones. Thanks to ELMA, the ultrasonic technology, combined with branch-specific cleaning media, has found access to many watchmakers’ and jewellers’ workshops.
The invention of the crystal watch in the early 70s brought a stop to the expansion of the watch business branch. The new watch works require less servicing and so the watchmakers needed fewer service appliances. When Manfred H. Schmidbauer followed the tradition of his father in 1973 and took over the responsibility for ELMA, he had to react to the decline of the watch business and so introduced the ultrasonic technology to other business branches adjusting at the same time both technology and cleaning chemicals to the new requirements. Also, the international distributional activities were aimed at numerous branches, such as the optics, laboratory and dental business sectors. It was in this period that the distributional subsidiaries in Austria and Switzerland were founded. The entrepreneurial concept worked out well. ELMA could stand its ground and – based on their technology – has constantly gained new market shares on an international level.
As the ultrasonic technology expanded, chemical cleaning media specially designed for various branches became more and more important. ELMA now started research and production of special cleaning chemicals on a bigger scale. In 1985, ELMA founded a separate chemical production site.
In the 80s, ELMA profited further from its wide know how in the field of ultrasonic technology and started the design and construction of multiple-stage ultrasonic cleaning installations. Since then, customer-specific cleaning problems have been solved by designing and manufacturing tailor-cut installations. The prohibition of cleaning media hazardous to the environment took its full effect in this stage, so that ELMA was forced to expand its research and subsequently its range of environment-friendly products and installations for the various business applications faster than planned.
As a consequence the construction offices and assembly premises needed much more room, so that new premises had to be searched: the ELMA business site in the industrial area of Singen presented the solution. In 1991, the company moved part of its business to the new buildings. Since then, all assembly and mounting departments, the logistics and the industrial installations departments are housed there.
Ready for the future challenges, ELMA has started the new millenium working in the following business sectors: – servicing equipment and appliances for the watch and jewellery branch – ultrasonic cleaning units for various branches – cleaning chemicals, particularly for the use in ultrasonic cleaning units – cleaning installations for the industrial fine cleaning.
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