Grateful farewell after 25 years of PROSTEP history

By Bernd Pätzold

After almost 25 years at the top of the company – first ProSTEP Produktdatentechnologie GmbH and later PROSTEP AG – it’s time for me to say goodbye: goodbye to the company, to my dear colleagues, to our valued partners and customers and to the entire PLM -Community. I am going to retire in the middle of the year and have made it my goal, unlike many of my beloved companions, not to take up an advisory role, but to devote myself entirely to my private interests. 25 years of PROSTEP and more than 40 years of CAD/PLM history are enough, I think.

Maybe it’s because PLM years are dog years, which you have to multiply by at least seven to get their true dimension. So much has happened in this quarter of a century that some things have already been forgotten. Fortunately, at least the name of PROSTEP is still a reminder that it all started with the STEP standard and the problems with 3D data exchange, which we can only smile about today. At least when you compare them to the technological challenges of digital transformation that we are grappling with today.

When I took over the management of PROSTEP, the company did not yet stand for 100 percent PLM competence, quite simply because the term product lifecycle management had not yet been invented or generally accepted. It only came into fashion at the beginning of this century. And whether our company will continue to stand exclusively for PLM in the future, given the many new digitization topics we are dealing with, is uncertain. But I’m sure: “We Integrate YOUR Future” will remain our motto, because it made us big, whatever our customers wanted to integrate or link.

In principle, PROSTEP owes its existence to the lack of openness and the inability to integrate many IT solutions. This is precisely why openness has become an essential part of our DNA alongside manufacturer neutrality. It is also reflected in the product philosophy of our OpenXXX solutions, which we are continuously developing and which, in addition to the consulting business, are an essential pillar of our commercial success.

Apart from a few exceptional years, the PROSTEP Group has grown steadily over the past two and a half decades. Between 1999 and 2022, sales climbed to almost 50 million euros and have thus increased more than eightfold. We were very fortunate that our shareholders put all the annual profits into the capital reserve. As a result, we were able to finance this growth and all associated investments from our own resources and are now in a very healthy position economically. When examining the last annual financial statements, KPGM certified that PROSTEP is now a large corporation – I think this is a great success.

Thanks to our economic health, we have also survived the financial crisis, the corona pandemic and other crises, of which there have been quite a few in the last 25 years. On the contrary, one has the impression that they follow each other faster and faster, so that the crisis mode becomes the norm. The pandemic was a tremendous challenge, especially for our employees, because they had to switch from on-site to remote service delivery practically overnight. I found and still find it impressive that our sense of togetherness and the PROSTEP spirit were not lost.

The people who work at PROSTEP are our most important asset. Today we employ 300 highly qualified and committed employees from all “mother” countries. Overall, I think more than 20 nationalities are represented in our company. Sex or gender, race, religion and political world view play no role for us. What counts is their tolerance, openness and competence. The fact that these values are lived as a matter of course at PROSTEP is something we can be really proud of.

Others will have to judge whether I have ordered the house well. However, I believe that the company is well positioned to meet the challenges of digitally developing smart, software-oriented products. Not least thanks to the appointment of Philipp Hasenäcker as a member of the Management Board, who will follow in my footsteps and manage the company together with Karsten Theis in the future. He brings a lot of experience from the software environment. We have managed to recruit our next generation of managers within the company ourselves. We can be proud of that too.

I would like to thank everyone who has accompanied and supported me over the past 25 years. Above all, of course, with our customers, the major OEMs from the automotive, aircraft, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding industries, but also the many top suppliers who made our success possible in the first place. If I could wish for a parting gift from you, it would be for you to remain so loyal to PROSTEP. Good bye.

Yours sincerely, Bernd Pätzold


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