Ziehl-Abegg SE

Chairman of the executive board:
Peter Fenkl
Ventilation, control and drive technology


“ We directly export the majority of our goods, currently more than 75% of what we produce,” reports Peter Fenkl, CEO of Ziehl-Abegg. In terms of crowds of visitors, it means that although a lot of the company’s customers are not from here, a great many of them come to the company location in Künzelsau at some stage. When customers come to visit, Peter Fenkl often hears the same reaction: “You’ve got it so good, living and working in a place where other people go on holiday.”

The high-tech company is among the leading international manufacturers of technology for ventilation, control and drive systems. Ziehl-Abegg builds gigantic fans as well as drive motors for elevators. Most of the products are developed in Baden-Württemberg: “Our technical centre is here – and our brain pool is based here, too,” explains CEO Peter Fenkl.

Künzelsau is well-known for something else as well: The world's largest testing facility for fans, an in-house development consisting of an XXL room mounted on springs and completely isolated from any external noise.

The fans are supposed to be very quiet and consume very little energy, according to the manufacturer's claim. Peter Fenkl's favourite soundtrack is silence. If he doesn't hear any noise coming from the products, he's happy. He's quite used to the fact that you don't see them.

Whether in the Allianz Arena in Munich or the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: "Our products are always hidden, as our philosophy is build in and forget." Once it has been installed, you will never again have to worry about it not working.

"Hard-working mentality a local advantage"

The company, which has been family-owned for almost 110 years, actively practises its claim of being a technology and innovation leader: "In our case it's almost genetic," says Peter Fenkl. "To be technologically 4 or 5 years ahead of the market, sometimes even 10."

Just like the principle of the owl's wing. Peter Fenkl recalls: "When we repositioned ourselves 20 years ago, everyone said the fan is already 100 years old. It has long since been optimised." Fenkl's reaction: "That can't be true, as evolution is endless. Let's take a look at nature." The journey into the world of bionics eventually ended up with the owl. "It needs to fly very quietly so that it can hear without being heard. We simply observed this principle and copied it." In the meantime it has been applied to a great many products. 

Again his gaze wanders towards nature and sees the rural region on his doorstep as a clear local advantage: "In the past, many people worked at Ziehl-Abegg during the day and ran their farm in the evening; people who were used to rolling up their sleeves. This cultural heritage has definitely taken root here in the company," he says. In his view, this is also a major reason for the success of many companies here in the area: "Because people here are used to putting in a hard day's work."

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