As CEO of Thürmer Tools – and the great-grandson of the company founder who invented and patented the thread in 1898 – Erick has reinvented the company by founding Thürmer 3Dprint and patenting 3D printed cooling ducts in cutting tools. The patent is valued at € 27 million by The Danish Technological Institute. Mr Thürmer’s ambition is to disrupt the machine tool industry – and to become a Spotify for tools.
Along the way, Mr Thürmer has had to fire the entire Board of Directors and a quarter of Thürmer Tools’ employees in order to achieve a Pippi Longstocking effect, where everyone says “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that”.
”We are 118 years old – but we just got started!”
Anyone entering the office of Thürmer Tools in Hvidovre is met by large black-and-white portraits of four generations of Thürmer leadership looking solemnly down at the employees emphasizing that the family history is a very visible part of the company culture. The present CEO of Thürmer Tools and fourth in the row of Photostats on the wall, Erick Thürmer, dreams of having his son hanging on the wall in the future to represent fifth generation of the Thürmer family.
It all began with Fritz Carl August Frantz Thürmer who in 1897 invented the square cutting die and was awarded Danish Patent no. 908 for the invention. Based on the patent he established his own factory Thürmer & Co in Copenhagen in 1898 and in the years to come a range of inventions mainly related to thread cutting tools was conceived and patented by Fritz Thürmer. Before the terms “disruption” and “innovation” were known, Fritz Thürmer single handedly revolutionized the production of the external thread thereby disrupting the thread cutting industry with his innovative solutions.
Second and third generation of the Thürmer owner-managers were first and foremost businessmen who reorganized, modernized and expanded the family business. The family company was on several occasions sold to external investors and bought back again some time after. During the nineteenth century the company was slowly transformed into a wholesale company and production was gradually moved to China.
The fourth generation of owner-managers, Erick Thürmer, joined the family business in 2003 as part of yet another buy back deal. But Erick wanted to set his own entrepreneurial fingerprints on the family business and turned to the roots of the family. In the spirit of his great grandfather Fritz, Erick in 2015 relaunched the Danish production of thread cutting tools in Hvidovre, Copenhagen, and now he aims to revolutionize the production of customized thread cutting tools by utilizing 3D printing in metal.
Erick Thürmer began working with 3D printing in metal in 2013 and already in 2014 Thürmer Tools applied for the first patent directed to a thread cutting tap having new features and new functionality that is only obtainable with a 3D metal printer. The pending patent application is an investment in the future. So far the patent application has not directly generated revenue in the company, because 3D printing in metal is not yet a mature technology. But everyone knows that 3D printing is a technology of the future that is expected to revolutionize manufacturing globally. Erick has therefore made the headlines in numerous magazines and newspapers and has been invited as a speaker on numerous occasions. The overwhelming attention has catapulted Thürmer Tools from the purchaser level to the CEO level of their customers. So far filing a patent application related to 3D printing has therefore been an incredible marketing investment for Thürmer Tools.
By rebooting the family company Erick thereby follows in the patent footsteps of his innovative great grandfather – and he also plans to expand the patent portfolio in the years to come in order to capture the value of the innovation that will be generated when the profound knowledge of thread cutting tools, established in Thürmer Tools through 118 years in the business, is combined with the new world of 3D printing.
As the fourth generation of Thürmer leadership, Erick Thürmer is ready to take on the fourth industrial revolution. Investing in a patent portfolio is a way to increase the likelihood that a picture of his son will hang next to his ancestors on the wall of a Thürmer driven company in the future.
Associate Partner DareDisrupt, CEO of Thürmer Tools, Co-founder TwentySeven
Erick talks about 3D printing, Digital production and Business Transformation and disruption.