Gonotec, Berlin, Germany, is celebrating 40 years of manufacturing osmometers and chloridemeters for the pharma/bio, medical and chemical industries. CLI caught up with the current general manager, Jan Celinšek, to discover the company’s story.
CLI: How did the company come into existence?
Jan Celinšek: In 1979 Klaus Noack and Harald Göritz founded the company Gonotec. They had known each other for a couple of years, as they were working together in a company in West Berlin, and their dream was to produce laboratory devices that were reliable and always reflected the latest technology. They were full of good ideas but felt that it was not possible to realize them in their current environment, so they started to set up their own adventure – just like in the Hollywood films – in a garage, a laundry room and a back room. They created the company name from the first letters of their surnames and ‘tec’ for technic: so ‘Gonotec’ was born.
CLI: What was the aim of the founders at that time?
JC: They have to wait six months for their first order, but then Noack and Göritz had the task of finding out if the phosphate levels of Lake Tegel – a source of drinking water for the west part of Berlin at that time – were too high. The two got to work in their garage and Gonotec’s particle test device was created. The two friends knew that there would only be a small market for such instruments and not something that would be a base for future growth, so they started to develop their own freezing point osmometer: the OSMOMAT 030. They had been involved with that market in the past and know the potential of it. They developed a very precise and safe method of crystallization for the osmometer and patenting this method ensured success. The new osmometer OSMOMAT 030 was presented at some trade fairs and exhibitions through the stands of friends in the business who gave Klaus and Harald some display space for their new instrument. Visitors to the fair, including end users and distributors from Germany and further afield, became very interested in the new system; useful contacts were made and the first orders followed.
In the meantime the company hired their first employees and moved from the garage to their first professional premises in Berlin-Schöneberg. The company started growing fast and other osmometers for different fields of application were designed.
CLI: What have been the cornerstones of Gonotec’s success?
JC: For 40 years, Gonotec has been not only an international company, but also a global leader in many areas of osmometer techno-logy. Our products are certified to ISO 13485 and Gonotec osmometers are used on all five continents and in almost every country around the world. Medical, pharmaceutical, and biotech customers appreciate the accuracy and durability of Gonotec devices. Thanks to short innovation cycles and ongoing development, we have been fulfilling the aspirations of Gonotec’s founders. As a result of our good contact and communication with our cus-tomers, we can react very fast to their needs and help to find a solution for their problems. From the very beginning we have worked with big companies in the pharmaceutical industry and much of this cooperation has gone into the development. For example, devices such as the OSMOMAT 3000, which was developed in 2013, set the global standards for today’s technological innovations.
In 2008, Gonotec’s headquarters relocated to the banks of the Spree in Berlin and 90 % of Gonotec’s osmometers are still produced here today, representing “Made in Berlin” quality in the truest sense of the words.
Ultimately, though, the success of the business is created by the people who work in it. Our production halls still have a familial atmos-phere. Our employees know each other personally and everyone is appreciated as an individual. Every single person is an expert in their field, friendly and fully focused on the goal of supporting the customer. Each day they have new challenges everybody works together to support each other to find the best solutions. It’s because of them and their commitment that we are successful, so it is no surprise that our guiding principle is “We are the osmometer people.” This is something that I am particularly proud of – the international nature of Germany’s capital city is evident in our workforce: East and West; Muslim, Christian and secular; women and men all work together to achieve a common goal. Perhaps it is pre-cisely this diversity that makes us who we are.
CLI: Jan, when did you arrive in the company and what was your pathway to becoming the current general manager?
JC: I studied electrical engineering at the Technical University Berlin and then I worked in several student jobs, for example Siemens (sales department) and AEG (production). In 1991 I joined Gonotec and started out in the production division. After I finished studying I took over the responsibility for the IT administration and the quality management. From 2001 onwards I become the general manager. This allowed Klaus to follow Harald into retirement, but only after a time acting as consultant and supporting me in my initial stages as general manager.
CLI: What are some of the current challenges that the business is facing and what do you envisage for its future?
JC: Particularly in today’s global economic environment, we are keen to support our overseas agents as much as possible. They are our long-term partners and it is only together with them that we will manage to continue to deliver the highest quality service to the market. Other challenges include keeping up-to-date with the evolving regulations, such as the new EU medical device regulations (MDR) and the in vitro diagnostic medical device regulations (IVDR), as well as being prepared for subsequent regulatory developments.
Additionally, we want to adapt our instruments for greater connectivity and so to fulfil the needs of our customers who want to be able to integrate the devices with their laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and laboratory information systems (LIS), as well as providing other new features.
We are happy with our path into the future – it will not be easy, but, as the saying goes, if it were easy, everybody would do it!www.gonotec.com