Achieving success together
Schuh-Petters, Gera [Germany]
First beginnings and expansion
Uwe and Sorella Petters have now been working together as orthopaedic shoemakers for 30 years. It all started in the autumn of 1989, when the couple bought a workshop in Gera, Germany with the goal of starting their own business.
This new venture brought Uwe Petters from the town of Weißenfels, with its strong history of shoemaking, while Sorella Petters had previously worked at the orthopaedic clinic at Leipzig University. Relying on their extensive experience, the couple enthusiastically embarked on the work of producing innovative orthopaedic products. The creative path they chose has paid off: Today the Schuh-Petters GmbH company employs an over 70-strong team at 14 branches.
Finally, after 15 years, the successful orthopedic shoemakers went in search of machines with more power and efficiency. They tried out the Flexam machines from Ottobock and stuck with it: "We got better engine performance, less susceptibility to faults and professional service," confirms Sorella Petters. Steady growth meant that the premises in the city center became too small. For this reason, the Petters company decided on a new building on a site on Berliner Strasse in Gera. A completely barrier-free building with a spacious production hall was created.
The laying of the foundation stone for the new building in 2015 marked the start of a large building project for the Petters company. Just a year later, employees were able to move into the new building and start production.
The move, including the assembly and installation of the new and existing machines, ran smoothly thanks to the excellent teamwork between Ottobock and the Petters company throughout the entire planning process. “Ottobock knows we have high standards and worked closely with us to meet our needs during the planning stages,” noted General Manager Uwe Petters in praise of the cooperation.
The new building offers numerous advantages for customers, employees and the Petters company as a whole. One example is the easy access and parking opportunities customers have directly in front of the entrance. Employees can enjoy more space in their work environment, better lighting conditions and modern machines that are ergonomic and produce little noise.Thanks to a new production line, Schuh-Petters GmbH is able to boost its overall efficiency. The production hall receives orders from 14 branches, which means the machines are in use from morning until the evening. The machines need to be capable of performing at high levels in order to keep pace with the company’s expanding productivity.
A special feature of the new production hall is the way both newly acquired and used machines from the old workshop are housed and operated side by side. The company’s machinery, for example, was expanded to include additional grinding and milling machines. To accommodate this, Ottobock planned and installed a new extraction system, which is specially tailored to the increased number of machines.
“We are also happy to include old, well-main-tained machines in our plans for new grinding and milling machines – regardless of the manufacturer,” explained Product Manager Christoph Neugebauer. And Ottobock did in fact develop special connection solutions so that the new, energy-efficient extraction systems could be linked to the customer’s existing machines.
A conversation with Sorella Petters
What is the secret behind Schuh-Petters’ success?
We have stayed true to ourselves. We haven’t let ourselves get distracted by other lines of business. We only do one thing – and we do it extremely well!
You’re setting new standards with your expansion in Gera. How has the region responded to this?
The residents of Gera have been very enthusiastic in their accep-tance of our new building. Minister Tiefensee has also visited our new facility.
Schuh-Petters stands for individuality and creativity. How have you achieved this?
No matter the type of orthopaedic work, the shoes shouldn’t be clunky – they should look good. Aesthetic shapes and custom designs to meet customers’ special wishes are important to us. We obtain top-quality leather, for example, so we can offer really smart footwear.
Is it right that even celebrities wear your shoes?
Yes, that’s right. We made two pairs of shoes – moccasins – for actor Manfred Krug. They will now be on display in the shoe museum in Weißenfels.
Why did you decide to work together with Ottobock again?
After a long testing phase, we were convinced by the cooperation we shared during the planning phase, Ottobock’s reliable service and the performance of the machines.
What’s important when it comes to successful planning?
We organise every single aspect and are very precise in our planning. Our partners have to be able to adjust to this. This is an important prerequisite for successful cooperation. Ottobock’s employees are willing and able to adapt to our ideas and goals.
Why are service and maintenance becoming increasingly important for you?
Reliable service and professional maintenance are extremely important due to the increasing service life of the machines – for example in the case of wear and tear parts for tensioning the belts.
What makes machines from Ottobock stand out?
The machines are more powerful and less prone to failures in their control elements. They offer a high level of functionality, such as the easy exchange of tools using the bayonet or the adjustable light for the user’s respective viewing angle.
Are you satisfied with the expansion?
Yes, of course. It’s enabling us to further enhance our quality and increase productivity. We will have the opportunity to open new branches and meet the growing demand from third-party produc-tion. The new building was something we had been looking forward to for ages – and it’s a life’s work.