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The Compressor Pope | Economy - The IHK magazine for Munich and Upper Bavaria - 01-02/2024

January 11, 2024
Stephan Adam has made a name for himself with innovative high-pressure compressors, especially for diving, fire services and industry. An entrepreneurial life full of new beginnings. By Harriet Austen If you look at his entrepreneurial career with all its ups and downs, one thing is clear: Stephan Adam, founder and managing director of IDE Compressors eK, has enormous stamina - and enjoys […]

With innovative high-pressure compressors especially for diving, fire services and industry
Stephan Adam has made a name for himself. An entrepreneurial life full of new beginnings.

By Harriet Austen

If you look at his entrepreneurial career with all its ups and downs, one thing is clear: Stephan Adam, founder and managing director of IDE Compressors eK, has enormous stamina - and enjoys being an entrepreneur. “Now I only have a small business,” says the 73-year-old wistfully, but also a little relieved.
Two years ago he had to watch as the buyer of his company drove the business to the wall and filed for bankruptcy. Adam quickly decided to buy back the material he could need, postponed his planned retirement and started anew in Brannenburg with a small workshop - once again. Adam is an entrepreneur through and through. Even as a young man, he was convinced that he could only achieve something if he became self-employed. He was originally supposed to take over his parents' pension in Brannenburg and trained as a chef and hotel manager. But after the sudden death of his parents, the 17-year-old had to reorient himself. He turned his passion into a career: The enthusiastic hiker and mountaineer designed mountain, sports and trekking shoes and built a dealer network. He had production done in Bosnia and Italy and most recently sold his collections to large companies. “My designs were well received, I was quite successful,” remembers Adam – until two major orders were canceled and a major customer went bankrupt. Suddenly a six-figure amount was missing. Adam had to start over again after 20 years. It was almost by chance that he discovered a field of activity that he has stuck with to this day and that the technology-loving man really enjoys: the production of high-pressure compressors, initially for diving. Adam started in 1989 as a general importer for an Italian manufacturer and gained more and more market share with low prices. “That was our chance,” reports the businessman. In 1994 he founded IDE GmbH based in Raubling. The abbreviation IDE stands for International Divecompressors Engineering. Adam quickly realized what potential the product had. After ten years of collaboration, he separated from the Italian company and began developing, building and contract manufacturing his own compressors and systems. “I had mastered the know-how for a long time, as I repeatedly had to convert equipment that had been delivered and adapt it to the German pressure vessel regulations,” says the company boss. This marked the beginning of a real upswing. Adam hired seven employees, invested in modern technology and expanded his product range to include larger compressors. The fire department had now joined as the main customer. When the company suffered declining orders during the economic crisis of 2008/2009, Adam expanded. He cleverly pushed forward internationalization and was soon supplying fire stations around the world. “That saved us,” says the entrepreneur looking back. What helped him was his ability to “react lightning-quickly to various requirements.” Organizational talent and flexibility were soon in demand again. In 2015, Adam had to file for bankruptcy for his company. “I had overextended myself,” he admits. But the entrepreneur immediately picked himself up, bought equipment and started all over again. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the solidarity in my family,” he says. Four years later, Adam decided to retire and sell the family business – now IDE-Kompressor-Manufaktur GmbH. “Because it went so well,” he remained managing director for the new owner in Oberaudorf. “The pressure was off and it was really fun,” says Adam.

The joy didn't last long. Due to the parent company's financial problems, the owner had to file for bankruptcy at the end of 2020, even though the company was doing well and was in the black. After that, events came to a head. The insolvency administrator had sold the assets to a private individual with whom Adam got along well. We “continued seamlessly” under the new company name IDE Compressors GmbH. The order situation was good, the high-pressure compressors were in demand in diving, the fire service, industry and medical technology; The export share of sales rose to 75 percent. “The key to success was that we built customer-specific systems,” says Adam, explaining the encouraging growth. But then his partner became seriously ill and had to sell the company. Once again, Adam “couldn’t help but carry on.” Especially since ex-customers called him and asked for technical advice, spare parts, repairs and ultimately had new orders for him. But for that he needed a supplier. He found it in his former Italian partner. In the Brannenburg workshop, a small collection of compressors and breathing air monitoring systems “with the world’s best controls” are now being assembled, says Adam proudly. However, the future lies in the newly built online shop for spare parts and accessories. He has now handed all of this over to his daughter and successor Constanze Adam. His wife Gabriele also helps out in the office. He still enjoys “developing something together with customers.” To ensure that retirement doesn't get neglected, his motorhome is always at the door ready to go.

 

Published: Economy - The IHK magazine for Munich and Upper Bavaria - 01-02/2024 (from page 50)