Technology and internationality inside

There are some family businesses that are among the most important in the world, while others are familiar only to insiders. The large family-owned company is a German business model that is receiving recognition around the world. With the company AGRO, we introduce to you today a family-owned Eclipse Scout customer that is active worldwide and is also Europe’s leading producer and supplier of innersprings, assuring healthy sleeping for people everywhere, night after night.

The probability is high that you woke up today on a mattress with an innerspring from AGRO, a top supplier worldwide. The second and third generations of this family company from Bad Essen now work daily to improve the sleeping comfort of people around the globe. However, the typical AGRO customer is not the end-consumer, but the mattress industry. As developer, producer and supplier of innersprings, AGRO is an innovative and reliable industry partner with its production site in Germany.

Very individual software requirements

AGRO’s business software requirements are as unique as the company itself. Nils Israel, Head of IT at AGRO, is in charge of the company’s database applications. His goal was to avoid having to manage many different systems. That’s why the IT expert sought to set a standard for database applications. After viewing and testing various concepts and technologies, AGRO chose the Eclipse Scout open source framework. “On the one hand, I had already had good experiences with applications based on Eclipse, while on the other hand, we were convinced by Eclipse Scout’s architecture, the tutorials, the short training times and the large developer group,” explained Nils Israel. The IT department has been in the process of successively replacing the previous Excel solutions with special software based on the Eclipse Scout Framework since September 2012.

“The greatest added value with Scout: We can do everything ourselves.”

Nils Israel, Head of IT at AGRO

Productive in a week

Nils Israel and his team were ready to go on the open source framework within just one week. “We received two days of training and were already able to develop for ourselves on the two following days. The BSI experts were standing by to answer our questions. We attended the continuous integration workshop on the fifth day, where we learned a great deal about the continuous merging of components within an application to increase the quality of the software on an ongoing basis. This day in particular really took us a great leap forward. We certainly would not have learned as much if we’d taught ourselves,” explained Nils Israel, who continued: “The BSI Scout team is very competent. The best thing though, was that beyond the initial training we needed very little support. The forum is actively supported and tutorials are constantly further developed. We appreciated the exchange, but in terms of concept, we can stand entirely on our own two feet.” It was precisely this autonomy that Nils Israel considers to be a major added value for AGRO: “We can do everything ourselves. We can connect multiple data sources on a single platform, have a standard interface and can store data centrally.”

“They have already been able to contribute back to the community.”

Matthias Zimmermann, Scout Co-Lead at BSI

First implementations in Scout framework

The application for machine master data management proved to be quite easily and quickly implemented by the small team. It has already been tested by staff in the technical departments and was very well received. This means that Nils Israel and his team can soon dedicate themselves to the next project: an application with various modules for the administration of test reports for quality assurance. This should be completed by fall. “We are using Scout support for WebServices for the first time in this application in order to communicate with mobile end devices,” explained Nils Israel. Production staff enters the data. It is transferred to Scout through WebServices and written in the database. Evaluation of the test reports also takes place in the Scout application. AGRO has already given something back to the Scout community: “We wrote a Scout tutorial on the integration of a reporting engine in Scout,” Nils Israel added.

Machines for producing spring cores are not mass-produced goods, but are tailored for the tasks they must conduct – just like Scout applications.

Great benefit even for small teams

“It is impressive to see what major progress even the smallest of teams can make with the Scout framework. After just a little help at the beginning, AGRO can al-ready develop everything themselves and has already contributed back to the community,” enthused Matthias Zimmermann, Scout Co-Lead at BSI.

“We appreciate the exchange, but stand on our own two feet in terms of content.”

Nils Israel, Head of IT at AGRO

AGRO Firmensitz

Sleep quality made in Germany, special software built with Scout

Around 400 employees work daily at the family-owned company AGRO so that we get a good night’s sleep. The roots of the company go back to 1948. After the destruction of the Second World War, there was a huge demand for furniture, which led the farmer Friedrich Grothaus to found a company that produced furniture components for the regional furniture industry. The company was named after his wife, Mrs. Anneliese GROthaus: the company name AGRO was formed from her initials, and was intended to represent a promising future. In 1979, the son Wolfgang Grothaus, who studied economics, joined the company. At that time, AGRO had a headcount of 12 and produced exclusively cylindrical innersprings. Today a wide variety of Bonnell innersprings, light innersprings (LKF) and pocket springs are produced at the company headquarters in Bad Essen near Osnabrück. Besides the innerspring production, the company has also established a wire factory which provides around half of the wire AGRO needs to produce its innersprings. The company continues to place great emphasis on personally providing customer consultation, continuous investments in the Bad Essen plant and further development of the product portfolio. With the perfect combination of a hands-on mentality and entrepreneurial thinking, Wolfgang Grothaus has won the trust of customers and employees alike and made the firm what it is today: one big family in which all employees are dedicated to the company and are fully committed to meeting the new challenges presented by a global market. The transfer of the majority of shares to his children, Sabine and Christian Grothaus, ensures that the values of the family business – long-term perspectives, responsibility for employees, short decision-making channels and sensible economic activity – will continue long into the future. This is part of what makes family-owned AGRO so special. 

Also homegrown is the business software AGRO uses. There was no standard solution to be found on the market for such a highly specialized product. Highlights from the development of the special software based on Eclipse: 

  • Efficient: An internal 1.5-man team is productive within just a week
  • Innovative: Connection of mobile end devices through Scout WebServices
  • Compact: Multiple data sources are connected on one platform
  • Autonomous: Independent development of special software