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20th Anniversary of Aicomp – A Review

Aicomp looks back on a 20-year history. Founded by 5 people, Aicomp is today operating worldwide. We show the history.

The foundation

It was the year 2000. Millennium. The collapse of all computers was predicted shortly before that. The Internet was billed by the minute. And yet, digitalization was gaining momentum. These were also the modest beginnings of 5 SAP specialists in the Swabian Alb (DE).

Their ambitious goal? To accelerate digitization and automation in IT and ERP systems at packaging manufacturers.

The first customer project at Klingele Papierwerke in Remshalden (DE) united the 5 partners and gave the starting signal for the founding of Aicomp Consulting GmbH on 13.10.2000 in Sonnenbühl (DE).

The 5 founding members of Aicomp were (see photo from left to right) Ralf Stenker, Dieter Voigt, Michael Tews, Norbert Haupt and Jens Hennecke.

The requirements profile of the project also revealed the significant company focus which Aicomp has retained to this day – Variant configuration in the packaging industry. The SAP IBU Mill Products attested the founders a unique selling point in this environment and industry.

Initial growth

Aicomp established international business relationships as early as the end of 2001. With the first presentation in October/November 2001, Dieter and Sascha Rauhe, Aicomp shareholder since 2002, showed the Smurfit Stone Container Corp. our brand new business solution. The first steps were taken in the American market, laying the foundation for future Aicomp business in the Americas.

New customers brought growth. With the follow-up project at Bauernfeind (DE, CH, IT) in 2002, additionally motivated by the customer Model AG, Weinfelden (CH), a Swiss location with its own company name was established in Kreuzlingen after only 1.5 years. At the beginning of the project, the majority of the project staff was supported by AICOMP Sonnenbühl, which had grown to 16 employees since the start of Aicomp. Subsequently, 4 employees moved from Sonnenbühl to Kreuzlingen.

This work also resulted in the Paper4Pack Template – an SAP-based ready-to-work industry solution, which had more than 50 automated FEFCO and ECMA types as well as preconfigured system modules for display production, production of laminated sheets and the handling of preprint materials in the context of purchasing.

With the presentation to International Paper in Memphis (USA) in July 2003, Aicomp set the course for further development.

Why Memphis?

The project started at International Paper in November 2003. This was accompanied by the foundation of AICOMP Consulting, Inc. in Memphis on November 20, 2003.

The biggest question that was asked at that time was… WHY MEMPHIS as the base/center of the US activities? Why not Atlanta, or Chicago, or L.A., or New York?

The answer was quite simple. First of all, the first two employees were German citizens at that time, which meant that there were two legal efforts – to found the US company AND to get the legal status necessary for Katja and Sascha Rauhe to work legally in the US. To manage these two legal efforts and get the business up and running, they decided to set up a business where the first customer had its main project site – International Paper in Memphis, TN. In addition, Memphis is located in the Midwest – the heartland of the paper and packaging business in the USA. Although Memphis is a smaller city, Memphis Airport serves as the main hub for Northwest Airlines (later Delta) and FedEx has its headquarters there. As a result, there were direct flights to every major city in the USA and one direct flight a day to Amsterdam.

New products brought changes

The management consistently followed the development path from a pure project provider to a software provider with license and maintenance components in the contracts. In 2006, however, this led to strategic disagreements among the founding partners regarding newly created product offerings with VCPowerPack, a seamlessly integrated SAP add-on for optimized product configuration and costing.

Ultimately, the disagreements led to the separation from former shareholder and co-founder Dieter Voigt. Norbert Haupt also relinquished his position as shareholder to Sascha Rauhe and remained in the company as an important employee.

For the technical further development of the core product VCPowerPack to a configuration solution independent of the industry, the management decided to found VCXI Solutions AG in Kreuzlingen (CH) on November 11, 2007. The 5 owners were Michael Tews, Ralf Stenker, Jens Hennecke, Sascha Rauhe, Rainer Foerster. Aicomp thus stood for experienced consulting in the packaging industry, while VCXI (variant configuration, extended and integrated) was to present the software side.

There was an exclusive partnership between Aicomp Consulting and VCXI Solutions. Until 2011, further locations were founded with their own company name.

2006 – Aicomp at International Paper

From south to north

With the foundation of VCXI Deutschland GmbH (today AICOMP Cloud) in June 2008 a new location was founded in Berlin. Berlin served as a balance to the more south-western locations. Besides its location, Berlin was chosen strategically because of its internationality, quality of life for employees and its reputation for trade fairs, conferences etc. for customers.

In later development, Berlin also became an important location for the development of a new business division of Aicomp.

The 2nd office in the USA

With the founding of VCXI Solution, Inc. in Delaware on August 14, 2008, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (USA) was selected as the physical location. There were several reasons for Fort Lauderdale.

Aicomp had now been in the USA for five years and business was going well. After customer contacts and relationships had grown into Latin America, it became more and more important to gain a foothold there. However, after a thorough review, the management abandoned the idea of an office in Brazil or Colombia for tax and legal reasons. Instead, the following approach was adopted:

  1. Strengthening the partnership with the local South American SAP branches
  2. Cooperation with local partners as ground troops in projects and consultations on site

However, while this approach worked, there was an increased need for on-site consulting, which led to a demand for Spanish-speaking workers.

It was also important to push product development. After the successful launch of VCPowerPack 1.0 in 2007, Aicomp as a group promoted a central product development idea that required close cooperation between the EU and the USA. One idea was to at least minimize the time difference between Central Europe and the USA.

Looking at the main demands, there was only one logical consequence: South Florida. While the airports of Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale, as the main gateway to Latin America, offered direct connections to all major cities, South Florida was an attractive office location for potential employees from all over the country, but also especially for the large Latin American community in the Miami-Dade and Broward area, with the hope of finding Spanish-speaking team members.

And also by opening the office in the Eastern time zone, the time difference to the European locations was reduced to only 6 hours. This practically brought the team closer to Europe again.

The demand for customer proximity brings Aicomp to Vienna

With the founding of VCXI Österreich GmbH (today AICOMP GmbH) in February 2012, Aicomp underlined its claim to customer proximity and chose Vienna as its location. Mondi AG, one of the largest and most important customers has its headquarters there.

The city’s level of awareness, internationality and prestige were further convincing criteria for the decision.

In addition, with the new Austrian location, Aicomp was able to better cover the gateway to the East geographically.

First steps towards cloud technology

In 2012, Aicomp took its first steps towards cloud technology and, together with ByD Consult GmbH, investigated meaningful integrations into the SAP Cloud ERP Business ByDesign in order to offer its customers new technological scenarios.

All under one roof

In 2013, the companies of Aicomp and VCXI moved under one roof of the aicomp | group as an incorporated group. The brand name Aicomp was too valuable to be reduced to consulting services alone. In addition, VCXI could never really be established as a brand. By 2017/2018, the process of transformation, renaming and consolidation of all companies and locations under the brand name Aicomp or aicomp| group was completed.

Aicomp logo design changes

Logo design from 2000 to 2014

The Cloud as a new business area

With the takeover of Abayoo Business Network GmbH in 2016, Aicomp focused more strongly on the development potential of cloud technologies in its service portfolio following joint projects. Thus, Aicomp expanded its existing expertise in the SAP ERP on-premise environment with the experience from more than 100 cloud projects and became SAP Gold Partner.

After many years on a similar company size (approx. 40-50 employees and 5-6 million revenue), the number of employees and revenue doubled from 2016, also through the acquisition of Abayoo and the winning of new, large projects.

In 2018, however, the setback came. Excessively high expectations and associated investments in the success of the cloud division, coupled with the lack of sales success for SAP’s cloud products, led to a reduction in cloud operations (from 35 employees down to 10) at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. The motto was “healthy shrinking” and not dissolution, in order to maintain the ability to act economically and to be able to continue existing investments in a meaningful way.

Further expansion

In 2017 and 2018, Aicomp continued its international expansion with the founding of two additional company locations in England and Bosnia, thus opening additional markets in promising regions.

The year 2020 and the 20th anniversary

It is the year 2020 and the world seems to stand still due to the corona lockdown and for many the future has become a little more uncertain. Nevertheless, Aicomp has made it well through the crisis so far.

The shareholders, partners and the employees can look back with pride on the last 20 years. Everyone has played their part in making Aicomp stand where it is today.

Today, Aicomp has about 75 employees worldwide, experience with more than 130 customers from over 290 successful implementation projects.

The two current managing directors Jens Hennecke and Jeroen Koopman wish Aicomp continued steady and healthy growth and thank the employees for their loyalty, commitment and trust.

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