Dr.-Ing. Hanno Frömming

CEO of Treo Environmental Simulation Laboratory

Hanno Froemming: Testing, testing...

Hamburg Aviation Series "Hamburg's Pilots" - Episode 1

At first glance, Hanno Froemming just as easily be CEO of an internet startup from Kreuzberg in Berlin. Or an advertising agency from Ottensen in Hamburg. Places where the typical CEO looks like Hanno Froemming. The Tempowerkring street in Hamburg’s Harburg district, Treo’s home since the summer of 2014, is not one of those places. And he certainly doesn't fit the image most people have of the “typical” CEO of an established SME. Froemming is living proof that young entrepreneurs can write genuine success stories in aviation and in the world of SMEs. And he has done it in a profession where the highest level of expertise and mutual trust are the most valuable commodities.

Treo, you see, is a testing laboratory, specialising in environmental simulation and electromagnetic compatibility. What this means is that, guided by Froemming, components and instruments are subjected to pre-certification testing of production quality, weather-resistance, differential pressure or susceptibility to electromagnetic interference. Many clients come from the shipbuilding and medical technology sectors, but the aviation industry is most important, contributing roughly half of the company’s turnover.

And business is booming. Treo is now one of a select few test laboratories worldwide to have been directly certified by Airbus for environmental simulation and EMC tests on supplier products. Since the company was established in 2010, the number of employees has risen from 2 to 10.

Hamburg's Pilots

  • Episode 001
Treo-CEO Hanno Froemming - cc-by Lukas Kirchner Hamburg Aviation
Dr.-Ing. Hanno Frömming
Treo Environmental Simulation Laboratory

“I had originally envisioned myself taking on a CEO role in my mid-40s, not my early 30s”

The industrial engineering graduate and Doctor of Mechanical Engineering’s lightning career, however, began almost by chance. As a doctoral student at the Hamburg University of Technology, he was involved in various industrial research projects. This resulted in a well-established connection with Lars Reeder, CEO of Hein & Oetting Precision Mechanics. “At the end of my doctorate, I already knew that I wanted to work within northern Germany’s SME environment and asked him if he knew of an exciting company within his network,” says Froemming.

Without realising, he had asked this question at just the right time: Reeder and two other partners had just decided to take over a test laboratory in Stade that was about to close down, and to launch a new venture with the infrastructure already in place. They wanted to be silent partners though and remain in the background, so they needed a CEO. “I had originally envisioned myself taking on a CEO role in my mid-40s, not my early 30s,” admits Froemming with a grin. “But then I thought I should just give it a try.” The Treo brand and the facilities in Stade were maintained, as were the laboratory’s two existing employees.

But the face of Treo has changed significantly since then – and not just through the move to Hamburg and the additional EMC laboratory in Kiel. “These days, only five to ten percent of our revenue comes from the client base we had at the beginning,” says Froemming. The rest is the company’s own achievement, via the website, trade fairs, and events such as the Hamburg Aviation Forum. Froemming greatly appreciates the opportunity which the aviation cluster provides to establish personal contact within the local industry time and again. It is this regular communication with suppliers in the cabin sector, in particular, that has allowed the laboratory to continually advance its differentiation efforts within the market, so that it now also conducts tests for Boeing and Bombardier. Airbus suppliers, however, continue to make up the majority of the client base.

Moving to Hamburg into "custom-fitted" labs

The CEO is particularly pleased about the fact that many new clients came to Treo as a result of recommendation. “Ultimately, our business is based on trust, so this represents a valuable recognition of our performance.” Treo’s greatest strength is not the price, but the ability to deliver reliable results under time pressure. The double specialisation in environmental simulation (Hamburg) and EMC (Kiel) in particular makes this speed of response possible, with Treo the only company in northern Germany to offer a “one stop shop”. Is a test rig in Hamburg still in use, then the tests in Kiel are conducted first, or vice versa.

The move to Harburg is the start of the next chapter in the Treo story. “We have more space, and the buildings are ‘custom fit‘,” says Froemming. The landlord constructed a special multi-storey car park with integrated laboratory for the company. The structure of this laboratory is ideal for larger and, most importantly, vibration-intense tests, which could not be carried out in the other rooms. The CEO looks to the future with confidence. The growing importance of the cabin sector will bring with it increased demand for environmental simulation – perfect for a laboratory sited in the world’s leading city for the aircraft cabin industry. Froemming also participated in the preparation of Hamburg Aviation’s new cluster strategy, which is all about the further development of Hamburg as an aviation location. After all, he knows his way when it comes to testing new developments.

Text and Images: Lukas Kirchner