ppi Media – throwback to 1984

Jens Wilms from ppi Media in 1984

This year, ppi Media is celebrating its 35th anniversary and thanks to great employees, customers, and partners we are looking back at an extraordinary success story. But how did it all begin?

It’s 1984 and Peter Pape just founded Pape + Partner Information Systems GmbH in Hamburg. The company starts growing slowly and just three years later, ppi staff is up to 20 people. It is then, in 1987, that Peter Pape first reaches out to four motivated young IT-specialists working for a different company in Kiel. With few attractive jobs in the field of information technology available in Kiel, all four are interested in working for ppi Media. But there is one catch: They don’t want to leave their beloved Kiel but opening a second branch in Kiel is unrealistic for the company at the time.

"Ich rufe mal kurz im Hamburger Büro an!", Henning im Frühling 1988
Telephone contact (1988) with the “outside world”

Fast forward about a year: More and more orders started trickling in making ppi’s overall situation look promising. Just the nudge Peter Pape needed to hire those same four guys and allow them to work for ppi Media in Kiel. In April of 1988, the attic of a private home served as a makeshift office before the little ppi Media outpost moved into its first official address along the Schrevenpark. The rooms were filled with an eclectic array of office furniture pieces – some of it collected off the streets where people placed it once they had no need for it any longer. Along with a computer – an Apollo work station with a mind-blowing four-megabyte main memory, the telephone booth across the street, and a gray VW Golf, this was ppi Media Kiel. The small group started projects for customers such as Siemens, the Schleswig-Holstein publishing company, and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the early 90s, a couple of years into the cooperation with the publishing house sh:z and Süddeutsche Zeitung, PlanPag, our golden standard for planning solutions that is now used by large publishing houses such as Axel Springer and Funke Media Group, was developed as part of a pilot project.

(International) Expansion

Even though the Kiel branch was not meant to grow at first and the fact that the team of four valued the intimate atmosphere and close contact to Peter Pate himself, the orders kept on coming and more and more people were hired to join ppi Media in Kiel. Eventually outgrowing the small offices, ppi Media Kiel moved to Harmsstraße and split into two separate business units: ppi Media and ppi Financial Systems (now ppi AG) in 1991. In 1995 the two business units decided to continue as two separate companies. Having reached maximum capacity of office space once again, ppi packed up shop and moved to its current location in Deliusstraße just four years later.

The small branch of 5 employees with their one computer and mismatched furniture grew into two companies employing a total of 150 people. And the innovations kept on coming. In the mid-90s, ppi developed the intelligent output-management-system OM followed by the ad production system AdMan in 1998. They, too, are software solutions used successfully until today all throughout the media industry.

By the turn of the century, ppi Media was the leading supplier of automatic newspaper production software in Germany and ready to take on the world. The Times of India thus became ppi’s first customer on the Indian market and a year later ppi Media US was founded. Today media giants like The New York Times and the Indian publishing company Jagran Prakashan Limited – the publisher of the one of the most widely read newspapers worldwide – are our customers, just to name a few.

In 2009, in cooperation with Digital Collections, we were able to introduce the lean and flexible content management system Content-X, at that time the contrasting response to the classic monolithic, print-centered systems. Important publishing houses such as russmedia, the Südkurier in Constance, the Indian publisher The Printers Mysore, and The Standard Group from Kenya are among our satisfied Content-X-clients.

Hanseatic Virtues Remain

After a buy-out by MAN Roland Druckmaschinen in 2002 and a change of ownership via the EVERSFRANK Group in 2012, our CEOs Hauke and Manuel have taken matters into their own hands and are, as of the end of 2018, owners of ppi Media. They are now continuing the legacy of company founder Peter Pape, who shaped the company’s culture with his honest, empathic, and hanseatic virtues. Until today he tends to his close connection to the firm and its employees.

Another mark that Pape left on the company culture are his principles: all employees are to interact fairly and communicate at eye level with our customers and everyone is to leave work everyday “with their head held high and a clean conscience”. Those principles guide us still in everything we do.

Without the ongoing support of every single employee, ppi Media would never be where we are today. The high level of expertise in all our departments is our most valued asset and is instrumental in continuing to offer innovative and reliable software solutions in the future. So here’s to the next 35 years of exciting projects, tasks, and customers!