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Managing partner of era-contact ranks among TOP 100

At the Ladies Brunch of the fifth Railway Forum, the leading conference in the rail industry, which took place on August 30th in Berlin, Germany, Manuela Aichele, managing partner of era-contact, was chosen from more than 470 nominees for the TOP 100 most influential female managers in the mobility sector. Her selection recognized her inspiring, innovative commitment, always focusing on sustainability and driving the sector forward. An expert panel, consisting of Berlin Partner, the IHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce), the women's network from Allianz pro Schiene (Pro-Rail Alliance) and the VdU - Verband deutscher Unternehmerinnen (German Association of Women Entrepreneurs), determined the TOP 100 after considering numerous nominations sent in by the professional associations for the mobility sector.

Manuela Aichele heads up the aichele GROUP holding company as well as the three subsidiaries, era-contact, BREMI and streicherplast, with a total of eight locations across four continents, and manages the medium-sized family company in the second generation. era-contact is recognized in rail circles as a global leader in electrical couplings and a system supplier for electromechanical components. The automotive sector is represented by BREMI Fahrzeug-Elektrik as an expert development partner and OEM supplier. The group portfolio is rounded off with Streicherplast as a reliable partner for molded parts in various sectors.

A long-established family-run company on the global market

The foundation stone of the Aichele family-owned company was laid by Erich Aichele in 1969, when he established era-elektrotechnik GmbH. The small business in Ehningen, which later moved to Herrenberg-Gültstein, run by only two people, Erich Aichele and his wife Christl Aichele-Schnabel, has now grown into a globally operating business, with over 850 employees. Manuela Aichele, born in 1973, grew up with the family business.

After successfully completing her training as a banker and attaining her degree in business administration (Diplom-Kauffrau) from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen (with a focus on controlling, marketing, planning, organization and personnel), she began managing the group of companies in 2012 as the managing partner. With the take-over of Bretten-based FABEG, a well-known company in the rail sector, era-contact was established in 2000. This enabled Ms Aichele to join the growing family business. The day-to-day tasks of business management are shared with the directors, Bernd Geiger and Jochen Kurz, who previously worked with the founder, Erich Aichele, in a successful, trusted relationship at era-Elektrotechnik . Manuela Aichele has prime responsibility for brand identity and financial controlling and takes care of all administrative work relating to the aichele GROUP holding company and real estate company.

Collaboration based on reasoning – not on gender

In line with the company philosophy "With people as the foundation!", the entire aichele GROUP, with over 850 employees worldwide, places particular value on constructive and harmonious collaboration between male and female colleagues. A strong team is what counts, according to Manuela Aichele. Performance and character are considered independently of gender, nationality, background or religion. Nevertheless, Manuela Aichele admits that it is not always easy to work at the top as a woman amongst men – but you grow with your role. Her mother, who proved her success in the 70s as she designed and developed the production processes, was and still is a constant role model.

Moving, not standing still

Since its foundation, the aichele GROUP family business has continued to grow, both organically and through strategic acquisitions – while its independence from external investors is of particular note. This position allowed the aichele GROUP and its subsidiaries an unusually high level of flexibility and the associated benefit of fast decision-making processes which, in view of global demands and the growing pressure to innovate, are increasingly important. These characteristics give the aichele GROUP companies and consequently also their business partners and customers a significant competitive advantage over competing companies and large corporations.

The opening of a site in the USA, era-contact LLC, and being named as one of the "100 sites for Industry 4.0 in Baden-Württemberg" are two big highlights of the past year which the aichele GROUP can look back on. However, our eyes are, as always, fixed firmly on the future:

"The changing environment of mobility means it is impossible for any associated sector to stand still. People, as individuals, change the demands they place on their environment and therefore also on aspects of their mobility. We travel with ever more speed and comfort, while also increasingly demanding to be able to do so more individually. This is a balancing act that the rail sector has yet to conquer, given the competition posed by autonomous driving," comments Manuela Aichele, managing partner of the aichele GROUP when asked about future mobility in the rail sector.


Photo © aichele GROUP: Manuela Aichele, managing Director of aichele GROUP