ONI in Lindlar is one of the most successful companies in Germany.

There are situations in which it is good to be forced to be lucky," says Wolfgang Oehm. And his almost mischievous smile makes you almost forget how serious he is. In less than 35 years, the 79-year-old Oehm has built one of the most successful companies in Germany. With a brilliant idea, the will to persevere, the ability to self-criticise - and because he was sometimes forced to be lucky.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Oehm was plant manager at a plastics company - and was annoyed that his employer had to buy heating oil on the one hand, while the machines on the other had to dispense their waste heat unused. So he developed a technology to use the waste heat to save energy and money in the hope that others would take care of marketing it.

"But that was the program’ Make a wish'," says Wolfgang Oehm today. After a short time, he had to realize: Either he takes care of his own idea or it won't work out. And so he let himself be forced to his luck for the first time: At the age of 40, he went into business for himself and founded ONI on an area of just 60 square meters with two employees and supported by his wife and daughter. Today the company has about 480 employees.

The last extension alone, a production hall that went into operation in 2013, has around 4,000 square meters. What sounds like a unique success story was hard work. Also for the founder himself. The first talks with potential customers were not very successful, recalls Oehm. If it were all so easy, they said, someone would have done it long ago. "At first I thought the customers were stupid," says Oehm. "But then I came up with the divine idea of dealing with the subject of self-criticism." So he called the interested parties again, asked what he had done wrong - and let himself be forced to his luck again.

Because ONI's guiding principle is that it always works a little better. And so, over the years, more and more business areas have been added, eleven to date. The youngest company offspring is called "AquaClean". Because there was no sensible solution on the market to keep the water in the cooling systems built by ONI clean, they developed them themselves. It started at the end of 2017, and the first systems are now in operation at customers.

From the day it was founded, today's Volksbank Berg has accompanied Wolfgang Oehm and his company.

By the way, as the only bank. "I wouldn't know why we would need five or six banks if we were satisfied with one," says Oehm. Although his products are sold all over the world, he appreciates the proximity of his bank. "A relationship of trust has developed over the years," says Wolfgang Oehm. And anyone who sees bank consultant Roland Pohl being greeted almost like an old friend in the company and knowing almost all employees by name knows what that means.

It was also Pohl who suggested ONI for the initiative award of the cooperative WGZ Bank, which the company won in 2012. Only one of more than 40 national and international awards, from four gold medals at the plastics fair in Kielce, Poland, to the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Federal Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the Federal Cross of Merit. In 2016, ONI was named "Opportunity Giver of the Year" by the IHK Foundation. In the finals, the Lindlar company prevailed against the Ford works in Cologne, among others. Oehm and ONI are highly committed to more than just business. With donations on the one hand, but above all also as an employer and training company. Both for young and older employees. "Over the years, we've certainly hired more than 300 Ü-50 employees," says Oehm. And the company is already known as a first-class training company - and has received several awards.

Not entirely without self-interest, as Wolfgang Oehm admits straight away. His company can always rely on motivated and well-trained employees. "For every 50th system that we install anywhere in the world, we need another fully trained service technician," says Oehm. "But not just a cardboard nose, but a really good one." So ONI takes care of it itself, is forced to do so once again - and simply takes the trainees and employees with it.

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