80 years of BLOCK – A success story about a fascination for electronics and technology
BLOCK celebrates its eightieth anniversary this year – strength in innovation, an entrepreneurial vision, and an enthusiasm for the industry in practice have transformed the once small firm from the town of Verden in Germany into an international company with more than 800 employees globally. This is why company owner Wolfgang Reichelt is looking in one principal direction: further ahead into the future.
Wolfgang Reichelt, from entrepreneur to the company BLOCK
The company’s history is closely linked with its owner and CEO, Wolfgang Reichelt, who acquired the company Alfred Block in 1971. Reichelt had learned the business here a good ten years before and returns to the starting point of his work following various other roles. His entire life is dedicated to the art of engineering and a fascination for electronics. In a sense, the building blocks for this could be found outside on the streets in those days: “You could find all sorts of things in the woods after the war”, says Wolfgang Reichelt. “I used to love collecting coils and antennas so that I could tinker with them. I built my first radio with headphones in this way in 1948.” Reichelt developed the foundation for his future career after training as a radio and television engineer at the company Alfred BLOCK based in the German town of Verden. He subsequently completed his studies in electrical engineering and business administration, thus providing the basis for his business and technical success in the electrical engineering industry.
CoCreationCenter: the new and innovative BLOCK C3 Development division
The focus has always been on the in-house Development Center over the company’s history going back decades, and the Center is considered its most important driver today. BLOCK carries out basic research here in close contact with universities and also trains its own postgraduate students. It is one of the fundamental bases for the company’s success and represents a crucial safeguard in ensuring its future viability.
The company has developed the innovative “BLOCK C3” CoCreationCenter as the latest spin-off from the Development Center, enabling it to work even more flexibly and meet customer requests as effectively as possible. Employees work particularly closely with customers in the C3 based on an interdisciplinary approach. Solutions are developed jointly here for specific tasks before being put quickly and directly into practice. A product’s digital twin is one of the building blocks for success in the solution process. BLOCK successfully utilizes its extensive network here to actively promote efforts to exchange knowledge with customers and research institutes.
A medium-sized enterprise with powerful research capabilities
Innovative research projects are constantly being launched through partnerships with science and industry.
BLOCK is constantly working toward technical and scientific progress, whether through collaborative robots, one-piece flow production, or new product ideas. Around 80 engineers are currently working on development at the company, with ten of these working on basic research. Engineers at BLOCK are constantly producing innovative new components that are enthusiastically welcomed by the industry. In recent times, for instance, these have included development of the 24 Vdc EasyB 1-Channel circuit breaker and Future Winding technology for reactors and filters.
Wolfgang Reichelt adds: “Our intensive travel activities also form part of our successful concept, as these enable us to actively transfer knowledge to universities and research institutes as well as to customers and suppliers. We attend trade fairs, hold talks, and network with professionals. Whenever we attend a trade fair, 20 employees also come along as well. We meet customers there as well as research partners and experts from other areas. The professional exchanges that time and time again result in important collaborations are very important to us.”
Wolfgang Reichelt and BLOCK’s vision
CEO Wolfgang Reichelt has been crucial in determining the company’s development. His philosophy of aligning basic research and product development closely with customer requests has become the foundation for consistent success over the decades. Reichelt also has a clear vision for his company’s future.
Wolfgang Reichelt, congratulations on BLOCK Transformatoren-Elektronik GmbH celebrating its 80th anniversary as a company! How do you see the outlook for the decades to come?
Thank you. You know, as a company, you have to monitor the market very closely and constantly adapt to it. We did that right from the start, continuing to develop our product range significantly in the process. New technologies always involve new requirements for which we develop solutions.
We have an internal company road map for the future at BLOCK. It shows where we see ourselves in ten years, and we examine it regularly based on the latest market developments.
You are heavily involved personally in the field of standardization – why is that?
With more than 800,000 employees in Germany, the electronics industry is the country’s second largest industry, right after mechanical engineering. Our commitment has a major impact here in terms of also being able to offer optimum products for our markets in future. More than half of our products are exported to destinations throughout the world. This also requires precise knowledge of the technical requirements and standards of individual countries.
Our expert knowledge is in demand all over the world, and we also for instance advise the Chinese standardization authorities today, thus actively contributing towards shaping our industry.
How do you see BLOCK developing further on an international scale?
Our branches in the USA and China are currently sales and production sites according to the BLOCK standard, which we intend to expand even further. Yet our employees travel around a lot because we want to expand our knowledge and expertise even further. We also have our employees from China and the USA visit us in Verden for training and so that we can also learn from them. The world is full of people who can provide expertise. You just have to invite them to share their knowledge with you. We’re planning on expanding our international sites even further for the future.
Almost a century of the company’s history – what does that mean for you?
We’ve achieved a lot over the years and our company has consistently played an active role in developing the industry further with its innovative products. But I don’t just want to dwell on the past – for me it’s about the future. I’m always thinking ahead, and I always find that looking ahead is much more important, despite all the joy related to our success.
A course for international success and production in the USA and China
BLOCK stands out as a partner to international firms with 38 sites globally, 16 of our own companies, and four production sites in Germany, the USA and China. As well as enabling short delivery times, our proximity to customers also allows us in particular to develop market-specific solutions. Developed first of all in Germany for the global market, the company intends to promote increased development of its own products at its sites in the USA and China over the long term.
A strong and reliable employer for 80 years
BLOCK is proud of being one of the largest employers in the region, and for decades has been dedicated to further developing its employees’ expertise. In addition to its core workforce, the company also has around 40 trainees and up to seven students doing a degree and work placement in Germany on a continuous basis. Excellent in-house training and further education is a matter of course for the medium-sized company and represents a solid basis for all its projects. In addition to dual degree and work placement courses, BLOCK also supports traditional courses up to doctorate level, and employs people who have majored in different subjects. BLOCK relies on developing its own expert staff when it comes to corporate development, particularly in the area of digitalization. “We’re setting up a new course in business information systems in Achim with the Leibniz Academy, and I’ve already reserved two places for our company there”, says Wolfgang Reichelt.
Profits are reinvested, which benefits employees who enjoy long-term career prospects and job security. This is why the family-run company is characterized by an atmosphere of community and family, collaboration with no red tape, and short decision-making channels. Employees enjoy extensive benefits, such as an in-house childcare facility that encourages compatibility between job and family life, flexible working time models, and regular employee events.
Links to the region
Company owner Wolfgang Reichelt is also involved in various social and cultural projects in the Verden area. The business owner gets involved wherever he can, whether this is to support the local Tafel foodbank, fund the loudspeaker system in Verden Cathedral, or as chairman of Verden’s Economic Roundtable:
80 years of BLOCK - thinking ahead
In its 80-year history, BLOCK has become a recognized global player in industry. The course is set for the future with its international positioning, wide product range, and high development skills. Wolfgang Reichelt’s eyes light up: “Our markets are developing at an ever increasing pace globally – and we intend to be at the forefront of this.” The CEO’s and employees’ fascination for electronics and electrical engineering will remain one of BLOCK’s essential drivers. Meaning that we can continue to say: Products for the perfect voltage - Made by BLOCK.