Outstandingly innovative: WEGMANN automotive

WEGMANN automotive is one of Germany’s most innovative SMEs/Presentation of award by Ranga Yogeshwar

Veitshöchheim – Success built upon entrepreneurial vision: WEGMANN automotive GmbH & Co. KG was honoured as one of Germany’s most innovative SMEs at the German SME Summit in Essen on 26 June. The company, which hails from the Lower Franconia region, joined an exclusive group of prizewinners stretching back over more than 20 years as Top 100 mentor Ranga Yogeshwar awarded it the Top 100 seal of approval. The award to WEGMANN was the outcome of a two-stage analytical procedure by a team of research scientists. This was the second time in succession that the company had been honoured as a top innovator.

This cutting-edge company, based in the town of Veitshöchheim, scored particularly high marks in the Top 100 competition’s Innovations Marketing category. WEGMANN is the global market leader in the field of balancing weights for vehicle wheels and believes that close collaboration with customers on product development is critical to its success. “By involving our clients at an early stage in the process we can achieve fantastic results,” stressed managing director Thorsten Thom.

A case in point was the development of an automation system for adhesive balancing weights, which replaces the manual attachment of weights. “It was only when we talked to the future users of this innovation that we could see exactly what form it should eventually take,” explained Thom. Concept tests involving several manufacturers had revealed that the capacity of this automation system did not meet all customers’ requirements. “It quickly became clear to us that we needed to develop various customised versions of this system,” he recalled. Spurred on by its customers’ feedback, the company developed a modular automation system.

The development of the aforementioned system was also based on a further strength of this award-winning company, which was originally founded back in 1882: its excellent climate of innovation, which motivates employees to contribute their own ideas. “Everyone within our organisation is encouraged to constantly think about innovation and to submit their ideas for consideration,” emphasised Thom. The response is outstanding: last year alone company employees submitted almost 500 suggestions, 70 per cent of which were adopted. A decision on whether to implement a proposal was taken within ten days on average, which is a sign of fast-paced innovation and well-structured processes.

“Generating good ideas and implementing them quickly is an important competitive factor for us,” added Thom. “This is why we invest a lot of time and money in managing innovation. In doing so, we are relying on the creativity and inventiveness of all of our employees. I should like to extend my heartfelt thanks to them for helping us win this Top 100 award.”

The Top 100 accolade is awarded on the basis of a two-stage analysis developed by Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and his team. The research scientists use more than 100 parameters in five separate categories to investigate how SMEs manage and generate successful innovations. The decision as to which companies ultimately receive the Top 100 award lies exclusively with the academic coordinators of the project.

This year, Professor Franke and his team reviewed more applicants than ever before, with 234 out of a total of 302 qualifying companies making it into the final. After the finalists had been split into three size categories (maximum of 100 companies in each size category), 178 were awarded the accolade. The German SME Summit in Essen provided the setting for the awards ceremony.

The Top 100 are outstanding in every respect: this year’s crop includes 71 domestic market leaders and as many as 31 global market leaders. In the last three years, the top innovators have together applied for a total of 3,405 German and international patents. Nearly 41 per cent of their recent revenues came from new products and innovations, which they brought to the market before their competitors (average of all SMEs in Germany: 6.6 per cent). This success is no accident: the top innovators invest an average of 10.5 per cent of revenues in research and development (average of all SMEs in Germany: 1.5 per cent). Two-thirds of the Top 100 are family businesses.

The Top 100 competition Since 1993, compamedia has been awarding the Top 100 seal of approval to SMEs with particular innovative capacity and above-average success rates for innovations. This project has been coordinated by Professor Nikolaus Franke from the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business since 2002. Professor Franke is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of user innovation. The Top 100 is mentored by science journalist and television presenter Ranga Yogeshwar and organised in partnership with the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research. manager magazin provides media support for the company benchmarking competition. Further information is available at

compamedia – mentor to Germany’s top SMEs compamedia GmbH, which was founded in 1993 and employs 15 people, organises the nationwide company benchmarking competitions Top 100 (since 1993) and Top Consultant (since 2010). The company collaborates with prestigious universities on these projects.

About WEGMANN automotive GmbH & Co. KG.:

With a production volume of more than 1 billion parts per year, WEGMANN automotive is the leader in the world market for balance weights designed for use in passenger cars, freight vehicles, buses and a variety of industrial applications. The company is a supplier to all the big names in the automotive world as well as to the leading spare parts retailer organizations in America, Europe and Asia.

WEGMANN automotive is a member of the Wegmann Group, which also includes Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Schleifring. The Group, which is based in Munich, has a global workforce of more than 5000 employees.

Press contact:
Vanessa Lediger
Phone.: +49 (0)931 32104-140

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