Viessmann celebrates 25 years in the U.S.
Company executives from Germany and the U.S. remember the past quarter-century with a lunch for key supporters
Viessmann Manufacturing Company (U.S.) Inc., celebrated 25 years of business in the U.S. at a special invitation-only lunch, September 9, for noted wholesalers, contractors, specifiers and other industry players who were early supporters of the company’s product line.
“We had no plans up until 1989 to start in the U.S. market,” said Harald Prell, president of Viessmann North America, to an audience of 150 during the event held outside the company’s U.S. headquarters in Warwick, R.I.
Prell added that 1989 was an ISH year, and Joe Fiedrich, of Stadler Corp., Bedford, Mass., (which later became Viega North America) visited the Viessmann booth.
“Once Joe returned he called me at our Canadian offices in Waterloo and asked to buy a stainless steel storage tank,” Prell said. “I thought to myself, now here’s an opportunity.”
Prell later traveled to Fiedrich’s New England operation and met another contractor who would be instrumental in introducing Viessmann to the U.S.
“I was there to discuss the Viessmann product line with about 20 mechanical contractors and there was one contractor in the front row who kept asking questions,” Prell said. “During a break, I asked Joe who this inquisitive gentleman was and he said, ‘Don’t you know who Rich Trethewey is?”
By the time the two met, Trethewey had been a popular part of the PBS show, “This Old House.” By November of 1989, Trethewey was leading a film crew at the company’s German headquarters.
Those key introductions helped the company open offices in Warwick in the spring of 1990. Prell added that Viessmann’s first year sales in the U.S. amounted to 268 boilers and storage tanks.
“For the past 25 years, Viessmann U.S. has been at the forefront of bring industry leading heating products to the American market,” added Dr. Michael Luz, president and CEO of Viessmann U.S. “Today and going forward, Viessmann is expanding beyond heating products, becoming a pioneering energy equipment supplier by introducing sophisticated renewable energy technology in solar thermal, biomass and other areas. In the next quarter century, Viessmann will be taking the lead with advanced energy products that enable our customers to become responsible stewards of our shared environment.”
Other Viessmann executives, such as Stephen David, sales director, shared their views on the past quarter-century. In addition, the company honored long-time employees marking anniversaries with the company. Also on hand to celebrate the company’s milestone were Daniel McKee, Rhode Island lieutenant governor; Nellie Gorbea, Rhode Island secretary of state; and Scott Avedisian, mayor of Warwick.
Dr. Martin Viessmann, CEO of the Viessmann Group, gave the keynote address. Dr. Viessmann represents the third generation of the family business, which will turn 100 in 2017.
“I sincerely believe our staff here in Warwick can be proud of what has been achieved,” Viessmann told the audience. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the close partnerships with our customers and trade partners.”
While Viessmann also shared his memories of the company’s activities, most of his remarks were firmly facing the future and its rapidly changing energy markets.
“Ambitious energy goals have been set in several countries right now,” he said. “In effect, we are seeing the beginnings of a fundamental change in the energy supply system. What we need to transition toward a sustainable energy era lies in the heating market.”
In Europe, the heating industry represents 40 percent of energy consumption. Likewise, that energy consumption figure also holds largely true in the U.S., although cooling and electric consumption is much higher than equivalent European per capita demands.
“We see improved energy efficiency as the most important resource,” Viessmann explained. “The less energy we consume, the less energy that needs to be generated in the first place. All of our products are designed to be environmentally friendly, highly energy efficient and compatible with renewable energy.”
Anyone looking for further examples of efficiency should take a tour the company’s German operations at its headquarters in Allendorf, Germany.
“We have increased our energy efficiency by more than 20 percent and increased our share of renewable energies to 60 percent,” Viessmann said. “In doing so, fossil fuel consumption has been reduced by 70 percent and our carbon emissions have been cut by 80 percent. It is not technology that holds up progress in the heating market; the technology is already there.”
The Viessmann Group maintains a staff of approximately 11,500 employees and generates the equivalent of $2.5 billion in annual sales. The Viessmann Group operates 22 production divisions in 11 countries, subsidiaries and representations in 74 countries, and 120 sales offices around the world.