"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.