Wah­lers Forst­tech­nik — Col­la­bo­ra­tion for Three Deca­des

The linear dis­tance between Stem­men, Wah­lers Forsttechnik’s headquar­ters, and Vie­remä, Fin­land, is 1,540 km. By land, this is a dri­ving dis­tance of 2,318 km. When a part­ners­hip works over such a long dis­tance, it is mainly due to the people invol­ved.

How It All Began?

In 1934, Johann Wah­lers and his wife Erna foun­ded a blacks­mith shop in a small vil­lage cal­led Lau­enbrück in Lower Saxony. It took a lot of impro­vi­sa­tio­nal talent to keep the far­mers’ mac­hi­nes ope­ra­tio­nal. His son, Hans Wah­lers, wor­ked in the blacks­mith shop as a child. He trai­ned in this pro­fes­sion, gai­ned out­side expe­rience, and retur­ned to his parents’ busi­ness and pas­sed his mas­ter craftsman’s exa­mi­na­tion. The blacksmith’s job desc­rip­tion chan­ged: the focus was no lon­ger on shoeing hor­ses and the manu­fac­ture or repair of simple agricul­tu­ral equip­ment, but on the sale and main­te­nance of complex mac­hi­nes, such as loa­ding equip­ment. In addi­tion, Wah­lers took over a repre­sen­ta­tion of the trac­tor manu­fac­tu­rer Deutz. Wah­lers also specia­li­sed in the con­struc­tion of fairground vehicles.

In 1971 Hans Wah­lers took over his father’s well-establis­hed busi­ness. The rea­son he got invol­ved in fore­stry tech­no­logy was a fully equip­ped ser­vice vehicle that enabled him to carry out dif­ficult repairs directly on site. He nee­ded to help the Scan­di­na­vian fore­stry cont­rac­tors who were wor­king with their mac­hi­nes in nort­hern Ger­many to clear the damage caused by a large storm. Inci­den­tally, among those fore­stry cont­rac­tors was one cer­tain Einari Vidgrén from Vie­remä, Fin­land, who had made his way to Ger­many with his first forwar­der.

Einari Vidgrén had made the move from being a fore­stry cont­rac­tor to being a manu­fac­tu­rer of fore­stry mac­hi­nes. At the Elmia Wood Exhi­bi­tion 1993 in Swe­den, the two sig­ned a part­ners­hip agree­ment between Ponsse and Wah­lers Forst­tech­nik. The import, sale and ser­vice of Ponsse har­ves­ters and forwar­ders became the basis of the busi­ness.

Col­la­bo­ra­tion in Three Gene­ra­tions

Hans and his wife Lola Wah­lers were very lucky with their daugh­ters. Anne and Monika both saw their future in the family busi­ness. Howe­ver, they were as lucky with their sons-in-law Ralf Dreeke and Mic­hael Rath­jen, who also saw it the same way. They took over the mana­ge­ment of Wah­lers Forst­tech­nik in 1999.

The women of the family busi­ness have been invol­ved for gene­ra­tions in the company’s ope­ra­tions in one way or the other, and Anne and Monika do not deviate from here. Monika trai­ned as a blacks­mith in her parents’ busi­ness, became the best in her guild and even ear­ned her master’s title in this pro­fes­sion and has been wor­king in the com­pany ever since. This was a rarity for a woman at that time. Anne also star­ted early in her parents’ busi­ness and took on office work.

Under the forward-thin­king lea­ders­hip of Ralf Dreeke and Mic­hael Rath­jen, Wah­lers Forst­tech­nik has grown into a com­pany with 130 emplo­yees and is the lar­gest Ponsse dea­ler worldwide. The two com­pa­nies fit toget­her very well: both are family-owned, and both always focus on the cus­to­mer.

Ralf Dreeke and Mic­hael Rath­jen are gra­dually with­drawing from day-to-day busi­ness. Howe­ver, they con­ti­nue to work for the industry and main­tain cus­to­mer con­tacts. Marius Dreeke, son of Anne and Ralf, and Gerit Koch, hus­band of Mar­lene Rath­jen-Koch, daugh­ter of Monika and Mic­hael, have taken over as mana­ging part­ners. Both have been wor­king in the busi­ness for a long time. Gerit is pri­ma­rily res­pon­sible for sales, Marius for admi­ni­stra­tion and inter­nal proces­ses.

Look into the Future

A cur­rent pro­ject is the even bet­ter deve­lop­ment of the Austrian mar­ket, which already belon­ged to the Wah­lers sales ter­ri­tory, but was also ser­ved by ser­vice part­ners. In 2019, a sub­si­diary was foun­ded there, which moved into a lar­ger works­hop a year later. A sales­per­son and six ser­vice emplo­yees now work here, lar­gely inde­pen­dent of their Ger­man col­lea­gues.

Across all gene­ra­tions, this has resul­ted in somet­hing that is not just a busi­ness rela­tions­hip, but a friends­hip with a com­mon goal. What Hans Wah­lers star­ted is being con­ti­nued by the third gene­ra­tion.

The year 2024 is Wah­lers’ 90th anni­ver­sary. Our war­mest con­gra­tu­la­tions on the long jour­ney we have been able to share with you!