Investment firm Triton recently purchased Bosch Rexroth’s pneumatics group and renamed it Aventics. We asked John Bridges about the changes and future direction of the company.

Could you explain the new company organization?

Triton has a proven record of investing in small to medium-size companies and making them more efficient, successful, and profitable — and that’s their aim here. Our headquarters is in Laatzen, Germany, with about 2,100 employees at production sites in Germany, France, Hungary, China, and the U.S., with a global sales network that covers more than 35 countries.

What does “Aventics” mean?

The name comes from advantage, innovation, and pneumatics — three words that certainly apply to our business —but the name itself doesn’t have any preexisting connotation, and that’s the point. It’s a completely new brand, and that gives us a great deal of latitude as to how we move forward. That said, we respect our legacy of building high-quality products like cylinders and valves, particularly for our existing customers. To ease the transition, we’re dual-branding Aventics and Rexroth Pneumatics for the next two years.

You were part of a $60 billion corporation. Any apprehension with the change?

Well, one negative is we don’t have the luxury of Bosch’s purchasing volumes. But it also lets us be more decisive and quicker to react. Triton has stressed that we’re responsible for the business, and we make the decisions. We no longer need to wade through multiple layers of approvals to move forward on a project. It’s not a knock on Bosch. In a company that size, you need a lot of standardization and common procedures. Otherwise, you have chaos.

And make no mistake, we do have healthy financial backing. Triton has made it clear that they are ready to support us with capital investments that improve production efficiency and expand our product offerings. The new owners are also very supportive of R&D. We have a product roadmap for the future, the details of which are confidential. But our engineers are looking to expand our ceramic valve line, redesign our ISO plug-in valves to improve performance and lower costs, and upgrade numerous products with electronics and serial-bus capabilities, just to name a few.

So being a smaller company has advantages?

The freedom and flexibility creates an excellent opportunity for us. Our goal is not to be everything to everyone. We will concentrate on areas where our products and capabilities give us a competitive advantage. The medical industry, for example, has been big for us and we want it to be bigger. Food packaging and processing are good matches because we offer best-in-class washdown valves and stainless cylinders. We have proven expertise in the food and beverage industries. And the ability to withstand contamination makes our ceramic valves very attractive in dirty, demanding applications.
Flexibility also lets us expand custom-product capabilities. Our online engineering tools give us a distinct advantage over a lot of our competitors and let users modify our standard valves and cylinders in millions of different ways — configurations, styles, ports, connections, mountings, bus links, and whatever else the customer needs. Engineers can create a design in a few minutes and have the product delivered in a few days.

Will you explore technologies beyond pneumatics?

We’re already into hydraulics in that we brought back production of our NFPA cylinder line, a business that, until recently, had been in Lexington for 50 years. It’s a nice pick-up for us that brings new jobs to our facility. Our goal is three-day delivery on pneumatic and medium and high-pressure hydraulic NFPA cylinders. We’re certainly cognizant of electromechanical drives, and we’re developing an interesting pneumatic positioning system using proportional regulators. It holds some distinct advantages over electromechanical setups.

Sounds like exciting times.

Indeed. Everyone here has a passion for pneumatics and is anxious to take advantage of the new opportunity. Feedback to date has been great from our customers and distributors. It’s exciting, putting the pieces together, building a brand, making Aventics into what we want it to stand for without any baggage from the past. It’s a golden opportunity, shame on us if we don’t succeed.