Their technology protects data centres and enormous logistics halls, museums and trains. In May, the fire protection technology leader Wagner Group GmbH will be celebrating its 40-year existence together with its employees. A success story which began in a basement near Hanover and is now being continued all over the world.
When company head Werner Wagner, a communications engineer, founded the company in 1976, its initial focus was intruder detection technology only. Today, the name Wagner has become inseparably associated with innovative fire protection solutions. Based in Langenhagen (close to the airport Hanover), the Wagner Group holds over 700 patents. Its fire protection systems can be found in museums and libraries, high-bay and deep-freeze warehouses, hazardous material storage facilities, as well as in hospitals, vaults and wind turbines. And the company continues to expand.
Wagner is growing faster than the market
“Our strength is our expertise at solving problems,” says Werner Wagner, who was recently awarded family entrepreneur of the year. “We don’t provide products, we provide solutions. We have comprehensive fire prevention concepts to offer our customers.” This corporate philosophy has a positive influence on the company: “In business year 2015/2016, we increased our sales by roughly 10 percent, reaching Euro 85 million,” says Werner Wagner. “This is much faster than the market. And we could certainly grow much more quickly, but we don’t want to.” The company already makes 30 percent of its turnover outside of Germany: in Europe and Asia, and, since 2015, in the USA and Canada as well, where Wagner is tapping into a gigantic new market.
Cutting-edge technology as basis for success
The company’s success is primarily based on two cutting-edge technologies: very early smoke detection with Titanus air sampling smoke detectors, which detect fires at a very early stage and are highly resistant to false alarms, and the OxyReduct system for active fire prevention: this oxygen reduction system is a pioneer in preventative fire protection. It reduces the oxygen content in areas holding large numbers of valuables in a densely packed space (such as warehouses, archives and data centres) so that a fire cannot develop or spread. A third focus is FirExting gas extinguishing technology. It uses special inert gases as nitrogen to ensure effective, residue-free extinguishing. Technical systems remain functional and important works of art, films or documents remain undamaged. One of the latest inventions from the company’s headquarters in Germany is the innovative Titanus Multi Sens sampling smoke detector which has a unique capability: it recognises what is burning. That is because Titanus Multi Sens has a patented analysis process with which it can learn and automatically evaluate specific types of fire as well as types of false alarms (cigarette smoke, theatre fog, etc.). This is something customers have been looking for to protect their production facilities, theatres or rail vehicles.
“Nowadays, fire protection isn’t just about protecting people. It’s essential to protect the processes as well, since interruptions in operations are expensive and can even put companies out of business. We offer innovative fire protection concepts which increase customers’ process reliability and protect data, goods, assets and operating procedures – including personal safety and the environment, of course,” is how Torsten Wagner’s summarises the concept. The 49-year-old is a communications engineer like his father and is in charge of the technology and logistics departments as second managing director.
500 employees at work around the world
The employees also benefit from Wagner’s success story and the continuity of the family-owned company. Decision-making paths are short, so everyone is welcome to take part in shaping the company every day. As a result, the staff is continuously growing: The 500th employee is expected within the next few weeks – a further milestone on the 40-year path to success.
The Wagner Group develops its products in-house, employing hardware and software engineers, process technicians and physicists as well as application engineers from the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering to do so. In order to ensure that enough specialists find their way to the company, Wagner works closely with universities and provides internships, Master's thesis work and scholarships. “We train electronics engineers for IT and telecommunications technology at our sites in Berlin and Munich,” says Torsten Wagner. “In order to be successful, we need dedicated employees who are prepared for life-long learning. This is the only way we will be able to keep offering our customers impressive fire protection concepts in the future.” Like Wagner has been for 40 years.
Milestones in our success story
1976 - The beginning: Qualified engineer Werner Wagner founds an engineering office for intruder detection technology in Winsen/Aller, Germany.
1982 - The first large-scale order: The company develops and implements an intruder detection concept to protect the entire outdoor premises of the nuclear interim storage facility in Gorleben with open field monitoring, which even a special forces of the Federal Police could not overcome. The starting shot for a meteoric rise.
1994 - Pioneer in the field of extinguishing technology: Wagner became the first German provider with VdS system and installer approval to introduce nitrogen as a natural extinguishing agent on the market.
1997 - Revolution in early smoke detection: After several years spent constructing many fire detection systems in data centres, Wagner decides to develop air sampling smoke detectors of its own, which are capable of reliably detecting the tiniest particles of smoke with high sensitivity.
2000 - Wagner goes international: The company’s first foreign subsidiary is founded in Austria.
2003 - Wagner protects high-security area: Wagner increasingly specialises in IT security concepts. It provides an OxyReduct multi-zone installation to protect a Munich data centre, along with all associated technological areas. The concept comprises the protection of 25 rooms.
2004 - Wagner protects Telekom systems: Over ten years ago, Wagner received its first order to protect Telekom’s technical systems with Titanus family air sampling smoke detectors. With resounding success: The companies are still closely connected today.
2009 - Titanus systems in space: Optimum safety for the crew and equipment: The Titanus Micro·Sens air sampling smoke detection system is used in the ISS space station to protect the high-tech, highly sensitive laboratory and measuring instruments from fire.
2013 – Award-worthy: Wagner wins the German Data Centre Award for the second consecutive year. Titanus Multi·Sens receives the award in the safety category. The same year, OxyReduct Compact receives the Préventica innovation award.
2015 - Fire prevention in the largest cold storage warehouse in the world: OxyReduct technology is exported to the USA for the first time ever for our customer Preferred Freezer: 1.05 million cubic metres of warehouse volume in a fully automated high-bay warehouse are protected by the newly developed PSA oxygen reduction system.
2016 - New technology can tell what's burning. Titanus Multi·Sens appears on the market.