Interview Edmund Breuninger Company News
Mr. Breuninger, WIBRE has now existed since 1919. When did the specialisation in waterproof light take place?
My father was fascinated by new developments for new markets, as you can see from the history of the many electrical products that Wibre had manufactured. These were mainly household devices and tools for electricians. This is how the first swimming pool spotlight came into being in the late 50s. This fascination with waterproof light grew quickly and developed into our core business in the 1960s, which it still is today. Of course, previous products have moved on or others have been added, but the product range for waterproof luminaires has expanded continuously since then. Luminaires for fountains or competition pools were added, or later also recessed floor luminaires with the know-how of underwater luminaires.
About Edmund Breuninger
Edmund Breuninger was born in 1944 in Neustadt-Glewe, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. As the grandson of the company founder Wilhelm Breuninger, he grew up with his brother Wilhelm and sister Electra and as a child was in the thick of things at the Wibre company, which was meanwhile run by his father. In 1953, the family managed to escape to the Federal Republic of Germany, to Baden-Württemberg, where they have their family roots. After the early death of their father, the brothers took over the family business in 1966, at a time when the first swimming pool spotlight was being introduced to the swimming pool industry. Edmund Breuninger thus played a leading role in paving the way for the company to become the market leader and pioneer in pool lighting
What important milestones were passed on the way to today's significance?
In the final analysis, it has to be said that the first milestone was right at the beginning of the company's history. The focus on electrical engineering from the very beginning was, of course, groundbreaking for the development of the company. The next point to today's significance is, as already mentioned, the development of what was probably even the world's first swimming pool spotlight with a halogen lamp. With this, we hit on a gap in the market and, above all, on a market that was growing extremely fast at that time. Two major relocations and spatial expansions to increase production capacity were also important milestones, as was the development of large underwater spotlights, which are still an essential part of the safety lighting of every competition pool today. The last major change was the topic of energy saving through LED, now more than 20 years ago. Fortunately, we were able to successfully switch to LED at a very early stage. I think that was one of the biggest milestones.
What has the move to LED meant for you and the company?
After an extremely long period of using halogen lamps, we had to learn about the LED medium in a relatively short time. This means that the company had to acquire new knowledge that did not yet exist, especially in the underwater sector. Personally, I realised relatively quickly that developments in this area were progressing rapidly and that LED technology would offer us enormous opportunities for development. Today we see that this is really the case. With the arrival of LED, we were able, after some in-house developments, to win strong regional partners with whom we exclusively realise our LED technology. Production and development processes also had to be changed because LEDs have completely different properties and requirements, such as electrostatic discharges, or ESD for short. The entire production and LED logistics were ESD-proofed. Economically, it was also necessary to make some changes, as the replacement cycles of the headlamp bulbs became significantly longer with the LED. Instead of changing the bulb every 1000 hours, it is now considerably longer, which is good for our headlights, as they are actually designed to last forever. Therefore, a rethink had to take place here.
In addition to underwater lighting, you also offer other products in the group of companies. How is the further development planned there?
Yes, there are other complementary products besides underwater lighting. In the underwater sector, these are loudspeakers and windows. In addition, we have been producing in-ground spotlights in a large number of variants for almost 30 years. And this is also a priority topic for our development department. In the medium term, we are planning a modular spotlight series based on the current underwater lights. In this way, we would like to offer a uniform product range across the board, and offer lighting designers and architects the possibility of realising entire projects in the same quality standard and design. Especially abroad, projects are sometimes on the point of failure because there is currently a lack of adequate products in the ground installation sector and planners would like to obtain everything from a single supplier.
What are the most important foreign markets for you?
We are very active worldwide and in the meantime have a wide structure with international sales partners. Europe is certainly important, and France, the "land of light", deserves special mention. All of Asia and especially the Middle East are important markets, as well as North Africa and Australia. But South and Central America should not be ignored either. The markets in Russia and China, for example, are important to observe. We are noticing that quality products are more and more in demand here.
In our projects in the foreign markets in Russia or China, we particularly notice that quality products are more and more in demand here."
What about the future - the next generation is already starting?
I think we are well prepared for the future and it will definitely continue successfully and the company will remain a family business. My son Christian Breuninger has been in the management since 2014, so we were able to set the course early on. We are also dynamically young and future-oriented at the management levels. In addition, the entire development department is under the management of my eldest son Erik Breuninger.
What new products are you currently developing?
We have just finished developing large, powerful spotlights for competition and sports pools. Since LED technology is now so powerful that it can replace the previous 400-watt floodlights, there are enormous possibilities for design changes. For example, we have been able to reduce the required installation depth by 70 percent, making installation in sports pools a lot easier than before. Based on this, we are currently also developing powerful surface-mounted spotlights for variable use in fountains and jets. Basically, we are permanently working on the expansion and optimisation of the current Centum series.
Mr Breuninger, thank you for the interview.