"A successful succession plan offers optimal conditions for continuing our extraordinary growth story," explains Leander Mölter. "In the selection of the new majority shareholder, it was crucial for us that BCM is not only thoroughly familiar with the needs of rapidly growing medium-sized technology leaders and can support us with a broad network of industry experts, but moreover, as a technology holding, BCM is committed to long-term partnership and, contrary to conventional financial investors, is not subject to a prescribed investment horizon."
"BCM’s outstanding network enables us to continue driving forward our hitherto very successful expansion, above all by opening up new international markets and additional application areas," adds Weiß, who presented the company vision to his employees at the Christmas party at the beginning of December. One of the main objectives for the coming years is, for example, to forge ahead with the pioneering role and globally propagate Fidas® – the optical fine dust measurement device.
"As an experienced technology investor that has accompanied companies like Wirecard and 360T in their success stories, we are convinced that Palas is a technology leader in a class of its own," says Marco Brockhaus, CEO of BCM. "The company has at its disposal a worldwide unique technology for optical particle measurement and is ideally positioned in a niche whose impressive growth is driven by global megatrends. This means that Palas not only stands for extraordinary dynamics, associated with high profitability, but also for top growth perspectives in the long term. Taking up a share in Palas is an important milestone in building up our BCM portfolio and in preparing for our planned IPO," Brockhaus continues.
Read the full press release: Brockhaus Capital Management acquires particle measurement specialist Palas
After the welcoming address by managing partner Leander Mölter, Head of Sales Ralf Emberger summarized the company’s history. Amusing and original greetings followed, before Leander Mölter took a trip back in time through the 35-year company history before opening the buffet.
In the afternoon the company premises were open for visiting and the Fidas® Fly mobile fine dust measurement device could be experienced live. A balloon competition in favor of the German Society for the Preservation of Nature (NABU) rounded of the day of celebration.
You can find the detailled company history here: Palas® celebrates its 35-year jubilee
© Pictures: Michael M. Roth , 2018.
"Back then all three of us were bachelors, we only had to look after ourselves and we simply got going,” Leander Mölter remembers the beginnings of Palas® in 1983. The graduate precision engineer managed to convince his colleague at that time, Fritz Munzinger, along with his brother Wolfgang who had just graduated in Physics, to become fellow combatants for the company foundation in the completely new field of particle and aerosol measurement technology.
Of course there was also a business plan, with which Leander Mölter had in fact won third prize in a competition from 'Capital' magazine. The prize money of 10,000 Marks was invested in the equity capital of the GmbH. "You must have a business plan, but eventually reality catches up with you. Then you have to invent and develop devices and build devices such that others can operate them. That is a long haul," Dr. Wolfgang Mölter-Siemens recalls the beginnings.
Fritz Munzinger too still has clear memories of the first difficult years. It was impossible to simply "go straight ahead as you had once imagined." To find lucrative business fields you "also have to sometimes chart a different path." And this flexibility, Leander Mölter adds, developed into one of the company’s greatest strengths: "That we always had an ear and an eye for the market and looked at what we could perhaps even produce multiple times, that was what mattered."
"But there were times when we could no longer believe in success," says Fritz Munzinger, and there also came a time when dialog with the bank got tougher, Leander Mölter recounts. “When it was very tight, then the message was: Mr. Mölter, if you don’t sort it now and rather go on vacation, not one more bank transfer will go ahead." The family vacation was canceled, they worked day and night two weeks long "and then we had a grip on things again."
The breakthrough came with the idea of building filter test rigs around the welas® aerosol spectrometer, which was called PCS at the time, together with optical fiber technology and T-aperture technology, which enabled measurements with coincidence detection. "And if the devices can then also be sold, then building and developing them becomes much better," explains Fritz Munzinger. "The brilliance of the T-aperture was not understood by many to begin with. Once they realized the advantages, we could say that it is already patented," Leander Mölter goes on, and laughs.
"Later, with the arrival of Dr.-Ing. Maximilian Weiß and his father Karl-Heinz, came the electronics. That was another step in the right direction: This made us the only ones who could measure in very high concentrations", Leander Mölter proudly explains. The development of the nanoparticle measuring devices followed and the very successful Fidas® series of fine dust measuring devices. “Because I no longer wanted to be dependent on banks, we didn’t pay out any dividends, but reinvested the money instead. This way we could completely finance these developments ourselves without a single euro from the bank."
As he switched to the University of Duisburg in 1991, his brother Wolfgang only experienced these 'good times' in the early stages. "If you look today how the company stands, you can only take your hat off, it’s really fantastic” he is just as proud of the development of 'their' company - Palas® as the two co-founders.
© Picture by Andreas Mauritz, 2018.
Starting in late 2018, a novel, close-meshed network of measuring stations will monitor air quality in the British capital for a period of twelve months, as part of the 'Breathe London' project.
Within the scope of this initiative the operating consortium, involving industry, academia, and a non-profit organisation, also conducts mobile measurements using two "Google Street View Cars" equipped with monitoring equipment. Air Monitors Ltd, sales partner of Palas® GmbH, is responsible for the technical equipment employing a comprehensive set of analyzers for air pollutants.
Mr. Jim Mills, managing director of Air Monitors, stated that the importance of the project can hardly be overestimated. The monitoring network will provide data with high spatial resolution down to individual roads, which is of highest interest to the public and will allow assessment of the effectiveness of measures to improve air quality. These measures include the introduction of a fleet of electric double-decker buses, announced by London’s Mayor Mr. Sadiq Khan, and the expansion of London's proposed ultra-low emission zone.
Onboard the two "Google Street View Cars" Fidas® 200 aerosol spectrometers, which have been specially manufactured by Palas® GmbH to run on the vehicles’ 12 V electrical system, are used for monitoring ambient PM2.5 levels. The Fidas® 200 can determine PM values every second and thus makes it possible to transmit the current PM load from the moving "Google Street View Cars" via mobile network connection to the data management system at intervals of 30 meters. This supports the project goal of creating a new approach to controlling and improving air quality in heavily polluted cities using real-time data.
© Picture by Air Monitors Ltd.
This makes Palas® currently the only manufacturer of fine dust monitors based on optical scattered light measurements with single particle counting that is certified according to the latest EN 16450:2017 standard.