image image
Making more happen together

Listening to each other, giving each other new momentum and using the power of networking. Schwäbisch Hall entrepreneurs and dignitaries came up with progressive ideas in the early 1920s – “last century”! Ideas that remain relevant today, in ultra-modern companies of the 21st century, and still continue to influence the future.

Entrepreneurs from the region met in the “Samstagsgesellschaft” (Saturday Society/S.G.). They had an interesting way of announcing the next meeting: “S.G. today at the Adler” or “S.G. today at the Rose” were classified ads announcing the next meeting location.

One of the entrepreneurs of this special circle was Otto Bühler, born in 1878, in Esslingen, Germany, a merchant and partner in the Bebion & Spitznagel pasta factory, who was uneasy about the future of the business. How long can the pasta business carry on and be sold at a profit in times dominated by high inflation? It became clear at a meeting of that very “S.G.”, where Wilhelm Stirn, an entrepreneur, watchmaker and friend of his, gave him a crucial idea: Filling scales! Filling scales?

Smart advice, particularly in these difficult times with a shortage of suitable equipment. Both, manufacturers and customers needed to pay close attention to meticulously weighed and filled goods, such as rice and semolina. Even more so when it came to luxury goods like coffee. Not to mention pharmacists, who depended on precision scales.

Bühler immediately got to work with his best design engineers. The result? A little over a year after the memorable conversation with Stirn, on October 21, 1921, the German Imperial Patent Office granted “Optima Maschinenfabrik” a patent for a “precision scale with an automatic shut-off for the inlet to the weighing pan.”

Wilhelm Stirn’s visionary idea, combined with entrepreneur Otto Bühler’s creative drive, paid off: The automatic precision filling scale turned into an achievement that had the capacity for expansion. 

This positive initial experience set the scene for Optima to be open to new ideas – an attitude that remains unchanged to this very day.

Combined forces

Early 2007: A train ride is both inspiring and exciting. Sabine Gauger, then Marketing Manager at Optima, and Kurt Engel, Managing Director of the Schwäbisch Hall Technology Center, found this out.

They visited “Measurement Valley,” in Göttingen, where measurement technology specialists are clustered around the region, to get new ideas for a well-functioning network. After an exciting meeting and insightful discussions, they headed back to the station with plenty of new thoughts and ideas packed into their luggage. They agreed that the numerous companies in the packaging and filling industry in the region needed a platform that provided businesses with more opportunities. One that would make it easier to find partners and enable members to make use of synergies. A modern successor to the historic model of the Saturday Society, with a clear industry focus – just a little bigger.

People had been talking about this for years, and there had been a number of discussions between the packaging companies in the region. What had been lacking was the initiative and the groundwork.

En route to the train station, the team heard news that the station had to evacuate due to a safety alarm . Kurt Engel still wanted to travel by train, so they could discuss the new "Packaging Valley" association while they traveled. Fortunately, the station cleared and the train departed with only a slight delay. Despite some uneasiness, they boarded the train. A few hours later, they arrived safely in Schwäbisch Hall – with them the first draft for the Packaging Valley Germany registered association!

October 10, 2007:

Around 15 packaging machine manufacturers from the Schwäbisch Hall district came together to establish Packaging Valley e.V. (subsequently referred to as “PV”). They provided solutions for almost every target industry: pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, beverages, technical and non-woven products. Chief executive: Hans Bühler (Optima), second chairman: Bernd Hansen (Rommelag).

Packaging Valley responsibilities include:

– Sharing experiences
– Marketing and communication
– Creating new task forces
– Organizing of conferences and workshops
– Trade show participations
– Marketing in universities
– Staff recruitment


The PV was first presented at the Interpack trade show in Düsseldorf and later in Chicago at the Packexpo trade show.


The first Packaging Valley Days took place and attracted around 170 participants.
High-ranking business partners were attending while the companies opened their doors.


The book “Inventors. Doers. World Market Leaders” marked the 150th anniversary of packaging machine manufacturing in Southwest Germany, in addition to a promotional film. To date, 35 companies have joined the association.


Various visits to trade shows and many events, for and with students, continued to raise awareness for PV.


Approximately 50 students from all of Germany came together as part of the fourth “Students Meet Entrepreneurs” days to explore opportunities in the packaging industry.


Several PV member companies launched a virtual reality and innovation center for packaging machine manufacturers at the Solpark in Schwäbisch Hall. Potential virtual applications for design, mock-ups, commissioning, process simulation, training and education, research, development and much more are researched and tested in this new facility.


The PV career board was launched as a recruitment portal for companies in the packaging industry.


A year marked by celebrations: The Packaging Valley’s 10-year anniversary with an open-air music festival with approximately 2,000 guests, including many employees and their families and friends, as well as many others.


PV featured a new trade show booth at Fachpack. In a joint effort twelve member companies presented their products and services.


Initial discussions took place between Packaging Valley and the Package Excellence Center (PEC) in the Stuttgart area.


"Merger in the Bag" – the merger of PV with the Packaging Excellence Center (PEC) is perfect.


Many PV companies joined the fight against COVID-19 by delivering high-quality filling, packaging and closing equipment in record time.


Packaging Valley presents itself on time for the 15th anniversary, with around 100 companies and almost 30,000 employees. Even without new acquisitions, the number of members is continuously growing.

Listening to each other.

The basic ideas of cooperation have not changed all that much since the "Saturday Society" days, but there is one major difference – back then, it was purely a gentleman's circle. The wives of entrepreneurs met separately for coffee and cake. Today there is a woman at the head of Packaging Valley: Sabine Gauger from Optima. Things have evolved in 100 years.

Qesar: Industrial cooperation in the field of mechanical engineering and the supply industry

In 2022, Qesar is also celebrating a special anniversary. The worldwide network of market-leading specialty machinery and system manufacturers and their suppliers has been operating for 20 years – Optima has been involved from the very beginning. 

The founders, Jochen Latz and Hans Bühler, have known each other for a long time both personally and professionally. This is how the idea for Qesar was born. Together, the pool partners can achieve the best pur­chasing conditions by bundling their requirements according to their needs. Customers worldwide benefit from this partnership. 

Qesar has evolved from a purchasing pool to an industrial cooperation. In addition to the purchasing benefits, the network offers an important exchange on current topics.

Many collaborations and networks

Optima supports a total of more than 30 collaborations and networks. This is indicative of the company’s commitment to training and advanced education. Whether at universities or in cooperation with the state of Baden Württemberg and well-known companies in the region or as a shareholder in the Digital Hub "hfcon GmbH" which targets the support of medium sized companies in the region, during their digital transformation.