There were roughly 3.7m companies in Germany in 2010, more than 99% of them classified as the German 'Mittelstand' - - small and medium size enterprises. Over 1,300 are classified as 'Hidden Champions.'
Export sales are generated by about 345,000 Mittelstand companies - - roughly 98% of all German companies exporting goods and services.
The term Hidden Champions was coined by Prof. Hermann Simon.
A Hidden Champion is a private company that typically is family run; is of medium size up to 500 employees and
Prof Hermann says Delo makes special adhesives for electronic applications. Eighty percent of all smart cards in the world and more than 50% of all mobile phones including the iPhone are held together by adhesives made by Delo. Tetra is the world leader in food for ornamental fish with a 60% global market share. Belfor, an industrial service company, is a world leader in the removal of water, fire and storm damages. It is the only company that provides these services around the world.
The Hidden Champions concept increasingly attracts attention all over the world. In the last ten years, the 1,307 German Hidden Champions created one million new jobs. The majority of their employees are now outside Germany, they are truly global companies. Globalization is the most important driver of the Hidden Champions’ continuing growth.
In many cases these are companies that have succeeded on a global level by specialising in a small number of products - - sometimes just one single product. Many of these enterprises achieved three quarters of their revenue or more in foreign countries. They account for around one quarter of all German exports.
Seven lessons for other companies
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