Hidden Champions

Small or medium-sized companies which are nevertheless world market leaders in their particular lines of industry are a particularly German phenomenon. Instead of hosting a few number of industry giants who dominate the market, the country is home to a variety of highly specialised “hidden champions”. Within Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia and, more specifically, the Rhineland head the rankings. A recent study revealed that more than 50 of Germany’s top 1000 best performing companies are located in the Rhineland.

The region’s central location and excellent transport conditions facilitate international success. Major international airports such as Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf International and Frankfurt are all situated in its direct vicinity. All of Europe’s major cities can be reached in a maximum of three hours by air. Apart from traditional lines of industry such as mechanical engineering and raw material processing, an increasing number of companies from future-oriented segments such as pharmaceutical and media technologies settle in the Rhineland.

Media location Cologne

With more than 65,000 companies and over 342,000 people working in the media, North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany’s leading media location. No other German City hosts as many world market leaders in this sector as Cologne.
Amongst them, Wige Media AG secures a leading position as a producer of sports and entertainment TV. The company’s service portfolio reaches from organising Public Viewings and TV productions to consulting services. The Ströer Out-of-Home Media AG is highly specialised with respect to outdoor advertising such as posters and advertising screens. Last but not least, the Cologne-based film production company The Match Factory has recently met with international success as four of its film productions were nominated for the 2013 Academy Awards.

Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Industry

Northeast of Cologne, a huge number of internationally successful engineering companies have settled in the region Bergisches Land. ONI, for instance, can look back on thirty years of successful business services. Specialised in producing heating and energy systems, the company headquartered in the small town of Lindlar delivers engineering products into more than sixty countries worldwide. Another family business, the August Rüggeberg GmbH from Marienheide, was founded as early as 1799. Today, the tool manufacturing company maintains five production facilities in Germany, the United States, Spain and South Africa.

In the chemical industry sector, the city of Leverkusen has reached international acclaim as home of the Bayer AG and its spin off, the Lanxess AG. Several hidden champions have settled in vicinity to the two industry giants. One of them, the Sarstedt Group (Nümbrecht), produces analytical equipment for patient care.

From niche provider to champion

Last but not least, the Rhineland is famous for hosting a number of niche providers who build their success on specialising in a very narrow field of industry. One of them is the Tente GmbH from Wermelskirchen, Europe’s greatest manufacturer of wheels such as hospital bed casters or trolley wheels. Producing medical skin tests has made the Cologne-based Courage & Khazaka Electronic GmbH internationally successful. Again from Cologne comes the Fogtec Brandschutz GmbH which has specialised in fog systems to better contain and limit forest fires.

Hidden Champions