As from 2023, ElringKlinger is led by a new Management Board team: Thomas Jessulat (CEO), Reiner Drews (COO), and Dirk Willers (CSO). What does the new team stand for and how do they see the future of ElringKlinger? Immerse yourself in what could be seen as a typical working day for the Management Board and discover the trio’s dynamic and highly focused style.

It is early in the morning as Thomas Jessulat kicks off his working day. Before heading to the car for the commute to the office, he checks the e-mails that have poured in overnight. Some are answered directly, then he makes a mental note of the list of people he needs to contact on his way to the office. Having completed the phone calls, he listens to a podcast briefing on the day’s key news items.

The very first meeting of the CEO’s day at the office is with the Battery Technology & Electric Drive business unit. Thomas Jessulat gets together with the head of this unit to discuss the strategic direction to be taken. This is a key issue, as it is in this area that the Group’s transformation will manifest itself in the form of revenue growth over the next few years. Production ramp-up for an order placed by a global battery manufacturer, covering a total volume in the mid triple-digit million euro range, is currently underway. In addition, the company managed to secure a high-volume order from the BMW Group for its “Neue Klasse” series (“New Class”) in 2023. Alongside the large-scale series nominations for components, the business unit has also received orders for other products, such as battery systems, production of which is scheduled to commence in the next few years. What applies to battery technology is also true for fuel cell technology: the joint venture subsidiary EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies is in the midst of ramp-up for a large series production order for bipolar plates in the second half of the decade. Preparations for this project are already underway.

As Thomas Jessulat points out, success during the ramp-up stage is of crucial importance to ElringKlinger: “ElringKlinger is in the midst of the mobility transformation and, thanks to its technological focus, it is ideally equipped for the task, as evidenced by the numerous nominations for e-mobility applications received in the last twelve months.” The emphasis now, as he explains, is on implementing this at an operational level. Revenue is set to expand gradually as the larger orders ramp up, and it is essential that growth is structured in a manner that is profitable. “That is our mission and we are fully committed to it,“ as the Management Board is always keen to point out.


Reiner Drews meets with the managers of his area of responsibility in an effort to drive forward global floorspace planning for the future. This is considered a major task for ElringKlinger, given the fact that the company is faced with a downturn in demand in its traditional area of business, while also having received high-volume nominations for which it now has to conceive and execute a suitable ramp-up roadmap. “The transformation seen within our industry is leading to changes that we have to embrace and manage accordingly,” says Drews.

» ElringKlinger is in the midst of the mobility transformation and, thanks to its technological focus, it is ideally equipped for the task. This is reflected not least in the numerous nominations for e-mobility applications received in the last twelve months. «

Thomas Jessulat, CEO der ElringKlinger AG

The future of the long-standing business units is a key item on the agenda at a meeting with the managers of these units. The issue of transformation is of relevance not only to the E-Mobility business unit with its fuel cell technology, battery technology, and electric drive units but also to the “traditional” areas of business. “From a strategic perspective, these business units have also been geared up to develop and market innovative solutions centered around new drive technologies,” says Drews. With success. The area of business formerly dedicated to shielding technology received letters of nomination for battery housings and battery housing components in 2023. The unit originally specializing in seals and gaskets recently chalked up sales successes relating to rotor-stator laminated stacks. And in the area of lightweighting, mass-produced structural components and metal-elastomer seals/gaskets for purely electric vehicles have been rolling off the production line for some time now. “These business units are transforming themselves from within, so to speak, drawing on their inherent skills and expertise,” says Drews.


Dirk Willers is on his way back to Dettingen/Erms in the morning. The evening before, he had attended a customer event hosted by a major European manufacturer and, accompanied by the sales team of the unit in question, accepted an award on behalf of ElringKlinger as Best Supplier in 2023. “An award like this is of central importance to us in sales,” says Willers in summarizing the significance of this latest accolade. “We see it as a direct form of customer feedback. Customer satisfaction is the greatest possible endorsement for us. At the same time, we also regard it as an incentive to become even better.” It is similar to sporting endeavors: coming first is a real challenge. Staying first, on the other hand, is even more difficult.

ElringKlinger’s goal is to be at the very top. This point was highlighted most recently as part of an internal review of the Group’s value system. ElringKlinger is a technology-driven company, as a result of which innovation is of central importance. The hive of activity seen throughout the company’s research and development departments is a testament to this, as are the sheer number and quality of patents filed.

Thomas Jessulat
born in 1969, CEO,

is responsible for managing the Group, drawing on his extensive financial expertise and a broad technical background. Having graduated from TU Braunschweig as a mechanical engineer, he embarked on a career at Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG, Ulm, in 1995. Three years later, he moved to the United States, where he worked for the same company and also completed an MBA in Finance at the University of Cincinnati. After a spell at Fairchild Dornier GmbH in Munich, he joined ElringKlinger AG in 2005 and took on various management roles within the finance department in the years that followed. He was appointed CFO in January 2016 and assumed the position of CEO in October 2023. Under his guidance, the Battery Technology business unit has recently secured numerous series production nominations and is set for strong growth in the future.

“Innovation is one thing,” as Willers points out. “But focus is the other key element for us.” This focus, as he explains, includes placing the customer and their needs at the center of attention. This is also reflected in the Group’s vision. ElringKlinger endeavors to be a preferred partner when it comes to advancing innovative technologies. As Willers explains, it is this ambition that provides the basis for the Group’s new sales strategy: “As part of a concerted effort, we want to explore new horizons by developing innovations while remaining firmly focused on ElringKlinger’s strategy, the aim being not only to tap into the market but also to turn our vision into reality.”


By now it’s midday. All three Management Board members have already attended several meetings at the Group headquarters in Dettingen/Erms. Reiner Drews took part in a video call with the Asian plant managers for an operational status report on the sites in the Asia-Pacific region – a morning slot because of the time differences. Meetings such as these tend to revolve around issues such as capacity levels and capacity utilization as well as the resilience of supply chains. “Robustness, reliability, and continuous improvement are at the forefront of our production processes worldwide,” he emphasizes. “This is at the heart of our ElringKlinger Operating System.”

Dirk Willers’ meeting with team members from the Aftermarket business unit is centered around the strategic direction to be taken by the segment. Prior to his appointment to the Management Board in 2023, he was responsible for the Aftermarket business and achieved lasting success in terms of both revenue and profitability. “A team effort,” as Willers always emphasizes. The segment now forms part of his Management Board remit – as does the Engineered Plastics segment, which has a proven track record in various sectors as a supplier of high-performance plastics.

» The objective for the coming years is to consistently translate these credentials into sustainable success. We have charted a clearly defined course to achieve this. «

Thomas Jessulat, CEO der ElringKlinger AG

Thomas Jessulat’s schedule for the morning has included appointments with staff members as well as external points of contact. The company’s principal bank, for example, is among the partners he converses with on a regular basis. Others include representatives of the Global Strategy corporate unit, with whom he discusses the product group strategy in further detail. This is followed by a video call with the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). His to-do list also includes a meeting with the HR department to discuss the results of a recent employee survey and to determine the next steps. Feedback from the global workforce is essential for the Management Board team when it comes to refining and evolving the fundamental structures of a corporate culture geared toward long-term success.


Today, the Management Board meeting takes place in a room on the fourth floor of the admin building. The meeting room offers a perfect vista of the entire site. EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies is also based at this location.

The key agenda item for this Management Board meeting is centered around an in-depth review of ElringKlinger’s strategy for successful transformation. SHAPE30 describes the strategic roadmap for the further course of the decade and encompasses five success factors that ElringKlinger will use to shape the future of the Group. It is within these areas that ElringKlinger is looking to build on its capabilities and play to these strengths in pursuit of success.

Reiner Drews
born in 1969, COO,

has always had a strong focus on production. After training as a toolmaker, he completed a degree in production engineering and went on to gain an MBA in International Marketing at the European School of Business in Reutlingen. After entering the job market in 1995, he held positions as plant manager, technical manager, and head of production at several medium-sized enterprises. In September 2006, he assumed responsibility for what was then the Specialty Gaskets division at ElringKlinger, and later also the Cylinder-head Gaskets division. In his role as Chief Operating Officer, a position he has held since April 2018, he has implemented a new operating system at ElringKlinger that maps, structures, and optimizes the Group’s processes.

The first step is product transformation. Drawing on its core competencies, the company was quick off the mark in its efforts to develop products tailored to next-generation mobility. A prime example: ElringKlinger’s track record as a series supplier of battery components spans more than a decade. The so-called cell contacting system, which was the first of its emerging technologies to make the leap into series production, has since established itself as one of the Group’s core products. The high-volume orders from a global battery manufacturer and the BMW Group are complemented by additional nominations in the other business units. In fact, the company’s order books are brimming thanks to all the series production nominations. For Thomas Jessulat, this is a key to ElringKlinger’s future performance: “The objective for the coming years is to consistently translate these credentials into sustainable success. We have charted a clearly defined course to achieve this.”

This plan includes sustainability as a further success factor. At the heart of this concept are the essential elements that drive environmentally friendly practices throughout the company’s own manufacturing operations and along the entire value chain. Added to this are social and ethical aspects in the form of sound corporate governance based on statutory provisions and moral principles.

Digital transformation with the long-term objective of creating a digital factory as well as the aspect of process and performance excellence also form an integral part of SHAPE30. The focus here is on optimizing processes and leveraging values that benefit ElringKlinger, its customers, and all stakeholders. Reiner Drews puts it this way: “In order to successfully shape the process of transformation, we will continue to focus on raising efficiency levels and achieving lasting growth in the future.”

» In order to successfully shape the process of transformation, we will continue to focus on raising efficiency levels and achieving lasting growth in the future. «

Reiner Drews, COO der ElringKlinger AG

For all three members of the Management Board team, evolving ElringKlinger’s corporate culture is one of the essential prerequisites for success on the path to transformation. The parameters must be such that they provide scope for empowerment and foster innovation. In this context, trust, passion, team spirit, integrity, sustainability, innovation, and a focus on strategic priorities are to be seen as an important foundation.

Having discussed and agreed the details of the strategy blueprint, the three Management Board members briefly address other essential issues. Among the focal points are the aspect of future market development, the pipeline of nominations, and assessment reports submitted by the sales team. They also discuss the degree of target attainment with regard to the key performance indicator system and outline the essential parameters relating to strategic measures that are designed to provide impetus for the future within the Group.

Having completed these tasks, the three of them turn their attention to other business matters over the course of the afternoon. And suddenly it’s evening. CEO Thomas Jessulat’s final appointment slot – as the day draws to a close – is taken up by the Communications department. “Agreed” – he approves a document and ends the call. Having parked his electric vehicle in its usual place, he is finally back home.

Dirk Willers,
Jahrgang 1973, CSO,

studied business administration, majoring in marketing and finance, at the University of Bayreuth and the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, USA. Having embarked on his career with management consultants Booz Allen Hamilton in Chicago, USA, he moved to what was then DaimlerChrysler AG in 2003, where he held various senior positions in sales. In 2015, he assumed responsibility for Aftermarket business at ElringKlinger AG, which he led to strong and profitable growth on the basis of a new strategy. In October 2023, he was appointed to the Management Board as Chief Sales Officer. Operating in line with a new sales strategy, ElringKlinger is determined to step up its market and marketing activities for the Group’s wide-ranging product portfolio – both in the field of mobility and beyond, e.g., in hydrogen generation.

» As part of a concerted effort, we want to explore new horizons by developing innovations while remaining firmly focused on ElringKlinger’s strategy, the aim being not only to tap into the market but also to turn our vision into reality. «

Dirk Willers, CSO der ElringKlinger AG

5 Success factors

Product transformation

In developing high-performance products for e-mobility applications, we are looking to seize the opportunities presented by the current transformation. Our strong market position in the long-standing areas of business forms the backbone for these endeavors.


We are taking present-day action in support of our responsibility to future generations – in ecological, social, ethical, and economic terms.

Process & performance excellence

We record all processes, assess them with regard to their progress, maturity, and success on the basis of given metrics, and optimize them accordingly.

Digital transformation

With a view to embracing the new level of digitalization, we are committed to the effective alignment of our processes, which also includes the aspect of time and resource efficiency.

Corporate culture

In pursuit of successful transformation, we are looking to evolve on the basis of a modern corporate culture that is receptive to change but at the same time target- and values-driven.