SECO Northern Europe GmbH was founded at the beginning of 2022 after the takeover of the Garz & Fricke Group by SECO S.p.A. With a company history of more than 30 years, the Garz & Fricke Group was one of the pioneers in the field of human machine interfaces, vending electronics and system on modules. SECO Northern Europe continues to uphold the core philosophy and spirit of the Garz & Fricke Group and aims to develop products and maintain the excellent service quality according to these maxims in the future. SECO Northern Europe is responsible for the DACH, Scandinavia, United Kingdom, Ireland and Benelux markets within the SECO Group since 2022.
The history of Garz & Fricke
In addition to their passion for entrepreneurship, Manfred Garz and Matthias Fricke are enthusiastic engineers and, with Garz & Fricke GmbH, constantly drove the technological development of embedded systems (HMIs, SBCs and payment systems) forward. From the beginning, first priority has always been the customer. They should always be offered excellent service and product quality, as well as a product portfolio for customised end solutions. Based on this philosophy, both founders developed their company steadily over 25 years. They made groundbreaking decisions, such as the founding of the Garz & Fricke Group or internationalisation in the USA. These decisions were always driven by the vision of creating a leading supplier of HMI systems. Manfred Garz and Matthias Fricke also had long-term plans to lead the company into a secure future through a successful transaction. This chapter was initiated with the investment of the SME investor Afinum in 2017 and concluded with the sale to the SECO Group at the end of 2021.
The story begins in Braunschweig, where the two founders Manfred Garz and Matthias Fricke studied electrical engineering together. Already during their studies, both dreamed of starting their own business one day. The first orders for the production of alarm systems for cigarette vending machines were soldered together by hand for hours in their shared kitchen. This experience shaped both of them so much that, after a short period of being employees, they decided to become entrepreneurs. The company Garz & Fricke GmbH was founded in 1992, and just one year after its foundation, the young company moved to Hamburg, where the new company headquarters of 86m² were occupied in a technology park in Harburg.
The young company is growing steadily and the number of large orders is constantly increasing. In order to be able to meet the rapidly increasing demand in the future, an SMD production facility is set up in the production department. In addition to its previous focus on vending & telemetry, Garz & Fricke is now focusing on a new business area: embedded systems.
Over the years, Garz & Fricke gains a lot of experience around single-board computers and starts developing its first own first Single Board Computer (SBC). In 2009, the company launches its first SBC series on the market. Already at this time, an own form factor is established and the fundamentals for the later modular family concept are noticeable. Even at that time, the stated goal was to develop a coordinated product portfolio that would make it possible to combine HMIs and Single Board Computers fast and easily. Furthermore, the foundation for customer-specific adaptations is already established here, so that even the most special customer requirements can be implemented efficiently.
An important building block for the success of Garz & Fricke is the high quality standard of its own products. Garz & Fricke received the decisive ISO 9000 certification in 2011. With the further achievement of ISO 13485, Garz & Fricke confirms the high requirements of medical products and is also increasingly active in this market.
In the meantime, products from Garz & Fricke can be found in almost all sectors: Transport, building security, professional kitchen equipment, digital signage or the in the areas of medical technology and vending as mentioned above.
Manfred Garz and Matthias Fricke have been planning to take their company to the next stage of development for some time and in 2017 they won Afinum as a SME investor for this project. Both founders continued to hold a significant stake in the company and managed the operational business in an executive position. With the investor as a partner, the company can realise its expansion plans in the USA.
Planned in 2017 and completed in 2019, Garz & Fricke moved into its new headquarters in Schlachthofstraße in Harburg. The new company headquarters was designed to meet the needs of the company from the start of planning. On approx. 8000 m², further growth plans are also possible in the future and the machinery can be strategically expanded.
In 2019, the Stuttgart software specialist e-GITS became a part of the Garz & Fricke Group. Together with the US location, the group expands to a workforce of over 150 employees.
With Keith & Koep, another company was integrated into the group in 2020. The Wuppertal-based company is a pioneer in ARM-based System on Modules (or also called Computer on Modules). With the integration of Keith & Koep, the Garz & Fricke Group became one of the most important system providers for ARM-based embedded technologies in Europe with an additional presence in North America. Furthermore, the group offers services in the matching software ecosystem.
Keith & Koep GmbH has an equally remarkable pioneering history as Garz & Fricke. Volker Keith and Luitger Koep founded the joint company in 1991 and have always been enthusiastic about computer technology. One of their early developments was the first machine terminal with a built-in touch interface.
Keith & Koep soon specialised in microprocessors based on ARM architecture. Access to StrongArm microprocessors then opened the door to the development of the first CPU unit based on ARM. This technology was already distinguished at this time by its low power consumption and high performance.
At the end of the 1990s, the young company began to implement the Windows operating system on its own developed ARM platform and a long-term partnership emerged from this.
2000 - 2009 Creation of the Trizeps I and Myon I product range
At the beginning of the 2000s, Siemens presents the world's first webpad - the SimPad (nine years before the iPad is released). Keith & Koep supplied the StrongARM processors for this and once again demonstrated a pioneering spirit. This project was also an important milestone for the company, as it laid the foundation for years of close cooperation with Microsoft.
Based on the idea of StrongARM processors in handheld devices, Keith & Koep develops the Trizeps I module - the world's first ARM-based system on module.
Over the years, Keith & Koep places its Trizeps product line in other handhelds, such as the first Internet telephone devices from Olivetti. Technology advances and requests for even smaller modules increase. To meet this demand, Keith & Koep developed the Myon series in 2004, which is increasingly used in mobile handhelds such as barcode scanners in retail and logistics.
Keith & Koep continues to live up to its pioneering position in 2021, when the company launches an innovation that brings together the advantages of SBCs and COMs. The SBCSOM was born.
The creative vision of electronics at the beginning of the 80s has proven to be decidedly far-sighted: Today, SECO is a major player in the fields of high-tech, miniaturisation of computers and IoT. Unlike many other companies, the majority of SECO's production is still located at the company's headquarters in Italy. A decision that has proven successful and allows the company to guarantee customers secure delivery times, high quality standards and the certainty of timely intervention in the event of project changes. A lot has changed for SECO since the garage in the 70's, but just like then, in April 1979, Daniele and Luciano are still committed today, together with Max and a great, proven team, to remaining extraordinary and driving innovation.
Our shareholders are involved in setting strategy and making decisions relevant to the company with the aim of constantly improving the Group's results from an economic, social and environmental point of view.