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In 1983 Bechtle GmbH EDV-Technik is founded as a one-man business by Ralf Klenk and Gerhard Schick. The newly founded computer store, specialising in sales of its own brand of calculation software as well as computer hardware from Apple, BASIS and Victor-Sirius, sets up shop in a 70 m2 commercial building at the city centre of Heilbronn, Germany. In its first abbreviated fiscal year it turns in a revenue of 66,000 DM.
Bechtle makes gains in brand awareness, becoming the recognised region-wide market leader and moves into a new office building at Europaplatz with twice the amount of office space (over 1,300 m2). For the third consecutive year Bechtle receives the IBM Quality Dealer of the Year award—the last time the title would be awarded. Employing a staff of 37, Bechtle increases its revenue by 50 per cent to approx. 13,015,000 DM.
Nearing the end of 1991, Bechtle publishes the first Bechtle catalogue, which lays the foundation for the expansion of its commerce business outside the region with its brand Bechtle direkt. The catalogue contains 32 black and white pages. The system house focuses on network communications, technical solutions and training. Technical services continues to gain in importance. With 85 employees, Bechtle is one of the biggest system houses in Southern Germany. In 1992 the market is shaped by dramatic price wars for hardware products. Despite the market situation, Bechtle revenue grows to approx. 23,342,000 DM.
Bankruptcy of two different companies offers Bechtle the opportunity to expand its market presence by adding two new locations. Nine former employees of IBM Systemhaus Computer Martin make up the new team of Bechtle GmbH EDV-Zentrum in Würzburg, which opens up for business on 01 January. In July Software Direkt (Maier + Partner) in Chemnitz is added to the fold. The foundation is laid for a strategy of nation-wide market presence across Germany with a network of IT system houses. Vision 2000 is set in stone: 100 million DM revenue and an initial public offering. This year, 100 employees generate a revenue of approx. 33,850,000 DM.
In the US Amazon and eBay are founded. In Germany, Bechtle pioneers the e-commerce market, going online at www.bechtle.de. The Bechtle group grows again: Bechtle acquires Pazdera Computer in Karlsruhe and increases its presence in north-west Baden-Württemberg. Another location is also added in Leipzig. The new acquisitions pay off immediately: while employing 150, revenue rises threefold within just one year to approximately 115,200,000 DM.
The number of Bechtle branches grows to 13 and shows its presence in Saxony and along the adjacent border of Thuringia. Bechtle breaks through into the top 5 system houses in Germany. Bechtle moves outside of Germany for the first time and founds the Bechtle direkt AG trading company in Switzerland. The expansion also means an increase in the number of employees at 320. Revenue rises to approximately 170,000,000 DM.
With the addition of another 5 locations, Bechtle is now represented across Baden-Württemberg, Baveria, Thuringia and Saxony with 18 system houses. The installation centre is established. Bechtle direkt builds a new location in the UK. BWK GmbH joint venture company invests in Bechtle shares and is still to this day Bechtle's second largest shareholder. 510 employees generate approximately 250,000,000 DM revenue.
Bechtle is listed on the stock exchange
Bechtle AG makes its initial public offering on 30 March. Interest for the new publicly traded share abounds: the Bechtle share is oversubscribed 12 times; the issue price is 27 euros. Capital gains set the course for more expansion: the founding of the location in Dresden and of Bechtle direkt subsidiaries in France and Belgium, along with five acquisitions in the system house segment strengthen Bechtle's market position. With 30 locations and 1,680 employees, Bechtle reports a year-end revenue of 955,000,000 DM.
Bechtle Platz 1
Bechtle moves into the company headquarters in Neckarsulm, Germany, with the fitting address, Bechtle Platz 1. The Bechtle share is listed on the TecDAX. Bechtle overtakes the Swiss-based ARP Datacon group, one of the largest European IT e-commerce providers, which marks the beginning of Bechtle's multi-brand strategy in the e-commerce business segment. Bechtle direkt ÖA is established which caters exclusively to public sector customers. Ralf Klenk takes over as CEO, and Gerhard Schick becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board. A milestone is reached. More than 1 thousand million euros revenue is generated with 3,178 employees.
With four acquisitions in four different countries, Bechtle strengthens its position in the IT system house and e-commerce business segments. Bechtle's subsidiary, ARP, stays true to its strategy of growing internationally by establishing a new online shop in France. With its Comsoft direct subsidiary, Bechtle pushes further into the software licensing market. Bechtle's CEO has to adjust his earnings forecast three times over—a testament of the profitability of Bechtle. Revenue increases by more than 13 per cent to 1.38 thousand million euros. Earnings before tax grow by around 29 per cent to 59 million euros. Bechtle employs 4,250.
Bechtle celebrates its 25th anniversary—and continues its success story with another record-setting year. The IT system house business segment enters the Austrian market. With its expansion into Ireland, Bechtle direct is now represented in ten different countries. The founder and long-time CEO, Ralf Klenk, steps down after 25 years at the helm of Bechtle. Revenue rises to 1.43 thousand million euros and the number of employees increases to 4,405.
Despite being thrust into the worst economic crisis of the post-war era, Bechtle looks forward to ensure the future viability of the company. To help ensure future growth, Bechtle expands with the founding of another trading company in Portugal. Bechtle is now active in eleven countries. The expansion of the corporate headquarters also makes room for 1,000 employees. Vision 2020 sets the course for the future: 5 thousand million euros revenue and 10 thousand employees. In 2009 Bechtle generates 1.38 thousand million euros revenue and employs 4,354.
New record year
Bechtle direct opens up shop in Poland. Bechtle's e-commerce business is now in twelve European countries. Bechtle also acquires iits, adding its four northern Germany system houses to the Bechtle group, and buys HTH Consulting GmbH with company headquarters in St. Pölten, Austria. With the acquisition of Solidpro Informationssysteme GmbH, Bechtle is able to add a proven specialist in the field of CAD software that has nine locations across Germany. Generated revenue reaches an all-time high of 1.72 thousand million euros and the number of employees rises to 4,800.
Investing in the Future.
The entire year is characterised by the common theme of securing future viability. Acquisitions are made, new locations in Ulm and Augsburg are added, and a new e-commerce company in Hungary is established. The newly founded Bechtle Remarketing GmbH augments the Bechtle portfolio. With 5,970 employees, there are 500 more people on the Bechtle payroll than in the previous year. Never in the history of Bechtle have there been so many registered participants in training courses and attained certifications. Bechtle receives numerous awards for performance and customer satisfaction. The construction on the new edition to the building at the Bechtle headquarters is completed, offering room for 1,650 employees.
30 Years of Bechtle – 30 Years of Future.