Coffee machines, Equipment, Europe, Profiles, Super automatic, Technology

Thermoplan celebrates 50 years in business

Company CEO Adrian Steiner discusses personal and professional growth, and developing the first fully automatic machine to qualify for the World Latte Art Championships.

From the moment Thermoplan Founder Domenic Steiner interviewed Adrian Steiner (not related) for an electrical engineer position in 1997, Adrian knew he’d found his calling.

“Domenic didn’t quiz me on my technical skills, instead he asked personal questions to determine my character. It felt like chatting to a friend. I learned so much about leadership in that moment, and how important it is to foster personal development as well as professional,” Adrian says.

“I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of a company that nurtured its employees and had strong familial values.”

Adrian joined the company just as it transitioned from producing automatic whipping cream machines and milk frothers to the first fully automatic coffee machines, which quickly became the company’s core business.

“This was the biggest transformation in the history of Thermoplan. It was my duty to build a technical service network for the newly developed automatic machines,” says Adrian.

“In 1999, we broke into the international market when we became the exclusive supplier of fully automatic coffee machines for a globally active American coffee house chain.”

Just nine years after Adrian joined the company, Domenic asked him to work with him on a succession plan. Adrian had experienced the growth of Thermoplan from 35 to almost 300 employees firsthand, and was familiar with all facets of the Swiss company. 

In 2008, two years into the succession process, Domenic, then 71 years old, decided to step back. In 2009, Adrian was appointed CEO.

“I was so proud to become a leader of Thermoplan and carry on its legacy of excellent service, which plays a central role in our business,” he says.

“Our service partners are more than just a sales channel, they are the direct, local contact for our customers and, therefore, the global face of Thermoplan. In regular product training courses on-site at our partners’ facilities or at our headquarters in Weggis, Switzerland, I aim to ensure our service partners always have the latest product and company knowledge.

“We guarantee to always meet individual customer needs and rapidly growing market requirements. Whether technical questions or individual requirements, we take every concern seriously and are always there for our customers.”

Although Domenic no longer carries out operational activities, he remains with the company as a valued member of the Board of Directors.

“Fifty years ago, Domenic and his wife Esther created a strong foundation which I strive to respect while still remaining agile to market and consumer needs,” says Adrian.

Thermoplan now operates on a global scale with more than 500 employees. With innovative machines that combine ease of use with high quality coffee, it is proud to be a market leader in the coffee industry.

The continued growth has led Thermoplan to construct its fifth production plant named unique. Located at its headquarters in Weggis, and spanning almost 14,000 square metres, Adrian says the plant’s name reflects Thermoplan’s openness to embrace new technologies.

“The growth of the industry and the increasing global demand for Thermoplan coffee machines pushed us to the limits of our capacity. With unique, we will have six additional integrated production areas, further logistic facilities, and office space,” says Adrian.

The plant will also feature an in-house fitness studio and a café for staff and guests.

“This investment in physical and mental health is invaluable not only for employees, but also for the company. After an intense day at work, our employees will have the opportunity to reduce stress, strengthen the body, and feel refreshed at our fitness studio. Interactive meetings or workshops can also be held in the fitness room and contribute to creative food for thought, the promotion of team spirit, and more motivation,” Adrian says.

“The café space fits around 40 guests and has a relaxed atmosphere that can be used for welcome drinks, informal meetings, or creative discussions. With our Black&White4 and Oviso coffee machines, we promise coffee lovers a first-class experience in the staffed café.”

Thermoplan will mark its 50th anniversary with a week-long celebration and soft launch of unique. Supply chain partners, customers, friends, and family are invited to join the festivities.

“On 18 June we will host an evening ceremony for all our English-speaking partners at unique, and on 19 June we will hold a gathering for our German associates. On 21 June we celebrate with our employees, and on 22 June we open unique’s doors to the local community and all interested parties looking to learn more about Thermoplan. We will finish with a rock concert on Saturday night,” Adrian says.

Thermoplan’s latest production plant will officially open in June 2024. Aside from its milestone birthday and new facility, the machine manufacturer has also achieved another remarkable feat.

In January 2024, the Specialty Coffee Association announced Thermoplan’s Black&White4 CTS had qualified for the World Latte Art Championship. The event in Copenhagen this June will be the first in competition’s history in which competitors use a fully automatic coffee machine.

The new space features production areas, logistic facilities, office spaces, an in-house fitness studio, and a café. Image: Thermoplan.

“As a company with 50 years of experience in the coffee industry and a pioneer in innovative milk foam technology, Thermoplan is excited to sponsor the global championships. The Black&White4 CTS will allow competitors to create milk foam automatically, thanks to the AirSteam function, enabling them to focus on the most important aspect: latte art,” Adrian says.

Thermoplan’s Black&White4 CTS will sponsor the event from 2024 to 2027.

“We are honoured to be part of the team for the next four years and look forward to everything that lies ahead,” says Adrian.

According to Thermoplan, the enjoyment of producing high-quality fully automatic coffee machines and premium coffee is a privilege that can connect people, create special moments, and, ultimately, jobs. Adrian says Thermoplan is doing its part to ensure future generations enjoy these same privileges.

“As a company, we have three pillars: we are respectful towards each other, optimise and reduce resources where appropriate, and improve our products for the benefit of our customers and the environment with the help of latest technologies. With this in mind, every day we strive to keep our footprint on earth as small as possible,” he says.

For Adrian, the commitment to producing high-quality machines made in Switzerland is more than a promise to employees at Thermoplan, it’s a matter of the heart.

“Working for Thermoplan is my passion. Together with the team and global coffee industry we have the opportunity to evolve, improve, and make our customer’s lives as easy as possible. That’s our duty, and I look forward to celebrating many more achievements in the years to come,” he says. GCR

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This article was first published in the March/April 2024 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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