Innovation has been one of the key success factors for the global warewashing technology manufacturer – which has since developed into a multinational company. Today HOBART is the world market leader in commercial warewashing technology and this year is celebrating 125 years of business across all continents. At HOBART, there is a special symbiosis between tradition and innovation.
“Our machines have symbolised quality, efficiency and reliability for decades now. These are characteristics that are deeply entrenched in our company’s DNA,” says Axel Beck in charge of the Food Equipment Business Division at HOBART’s parent company Illinois Tool Works. HOBART has been part of this American company for 20 years and is one of the best known and successful brands within the organisation, which manufactures and sells a variety of food equipment products.
Beck himself is also one of HOBART’s three managing directors and has been with the warewashing technology specialist for more than 30 years now. As a result, he has witnessed many milestones along the way. These include the development of the premium technology PREMAX, for which HOBART holds more than 100 patents worldwide. “The introduction of our PREMAX line set new standards in the market and made water savings of more than 50 percent possible,” says Beck.
Founded in Ohio, USA, in 1897, the first German branch was opened in Hamburg three decades later. In the meantime, HOBART’s global workforce has grown to around 6,900, of which approximately 1,100 are based in Germany. With the takeover of the dishwasher department of the K. Martin company in Offenburg in 1960, the warewashing technology manufacturer began its production in Germany. In the early 2000s, the entire administration and production activities were centralised in Elgersweier, a district of Offenburg. At what is now a research and production site, the realisation of an ambitious idea is taking shape – namely washing without water. “Our engineers in Germany and the USA have not only developed the PREMAX series, but also, for example, the TWO-LEVEL-WASHER or the integrated drying for undercounter dishwashers, all of which are unique on the market. We work every day to optimise our products and to make the lives of our customers easier with our innovations,” explains Manfred Kohler, Vice President Sales and Manufacturing.
Together with other international sister companies, HOBART has set up interdisciplinary teams to research new technologies, customer needs and market trends. There is a global network of research and development engineers as well as marketing teams on all continents that are all working on identifying specific customer requirements. “Up until the Covid pandemic struck, we were looking back on an incredible 19 record years in succession. There are only a handful of companies that have achieved this,” says a delighted CEO, Silvio Koch, recalling past successes.
With its constant success and growth, HOBART is continually increasing its production and workforce. The next historic milestone was the construction of an innovation centre in Offenburg in 2011 and the resulting expansion of the research and development department. In the meantime, HOBART is not only the leading innovator in the warewashing technology industry, but also a renowned manufacturer of cooking and food preparation equipment and waste technology. The company constantly strives to find solutions that reduce resource consumption and thereby protect the environment.
With the extension of the development and production site in Offenburg-Elgersweier almost two years ago, the next big step was taken: additional 12,000 square meters are now available for the production of HOBART machines. “We will continue to pursue our vision of "washing without water" and leave no stone unturned in order to optimise our machines with respect to water, detergent and electricity consumption and amount of work involved. Our know-how and our steady focus on customer benefits will bring us closer to the realisation of our vision, step-by-step” explains Beck.