28. January 2020

20 years of ECOCOOL – Interview with founder Heinrich Siedenburg and department head Valeska Busch

When asked if they have any good anecdotes to share, they start laughing. “Of course. You don’t spend 20 years with a company and not have a few stories,” says Heinrich Siedenburg. Valeska Busch confirms this with a grin. Now head of the Sewing department, she has been with ECOCOOL longer than almost anyone at the company.

Economics graduate Heinrich Siedenburg and engineering graduate Ulf C. Abbes founded ECOCOOL in 1999 and, in that same year, were awarded the Bremerhavener Gründerpreis (Bremerhaven Founder Prize) for their innovative packaging and insulation concepts. Dr Florian Siedenburg has managed the company since 2015,

while Valeska Busch has been on board for almost 14 years. Born in Cuxhaven, Germany, Busch was brought into ECOCOOL by Siedenburg Senior. Over the last five years, she has experienced the business’s enormous growth from a family-run crafts business to a mid-size industrial company. “There were three people at the beginning. Once we started growing, we didn’t stop, and we won’t any time soon,” says the ECOCOOL employee. She has come a long way from sitting alone at the sewing machine and stitching thermal covers to managing about 30 Sewing employees who work in shifts. “We’ve had some real adventures,” she says. She then explains what the production processes were like back when manual labour was truly manual. She also talks about the filling machines that Heinrich Siedenburg developed and built himself. “That was a far cry from modern technology,” she says, smiling. “But we all start small.”

And speaking of small – or rather, young – it was clear from early on that son Florian would one day take the company reins. “Florian wasn’t that old when he started filling in while his dad was on holiday,” says Busch, strolling down memory lane. Heinrich Siedenburg beams with pride. “My son’s a businessman. It’s in his genes.” Those genes ultimately paid dividends for ECOCOOL and its employees. “We used to celebrate every time we sent off a complete pallet to a customer,” says Busch. These days, lorry drivers queue up to haul goods for the company: no fewer than ten truckloads are carried off daily from the lot in southern Bremerhaven and make their way around the world.

ECOCOOL now has 85 employees working across three locations in Bremerhaven, plus additional sales reps in Bad Kreuznach and Berlin. The company will continue its growth spurt by bringing another hall into operation, but Dr Florian Siedenburg says only healthy growth is good growth. He stresses the point, but doesn’t stress about it. “Our customers mainly work in pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transport and logistics. That’s where our products are used. The quality speaks for itself. If you charted the demand for our refrigerated packaging and our packaging products, you’d see a steady line going up,” the managing director explains. “We’re always finding new solutions for transporting temperature-sensitive goods,” adds his father, who now holds an advisory position at ECOCOOL, not without a hint of pride. Valeska Busch makes it clear just how important she and her colleagues find the company’s principles: “We swear by our products’ quality, reliability and affordability. We offer remarkably quick delivery times, and are always happy to meet any special requirements customers may have.” The final point has long been a staple of ECOCOOL’s service. It’s even on the senior director’s “homemade” filling machine.

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