The history of CHG-MERIDIAN begins in 1979 with the search for a used mainframe computer. A lot has changed since then. What has remained the same is the close relationship with our customers, our technological expertise, our independence, and our ability to adapt. All of which have made us the international technology managers and financing experts we are today.
Then as now, our focus is on finding the best solution for our customers and using our resources sustainably.
EXPERTISE AND THE RIGHT IDEA
Towards the end of the 1970s, Jürgen Gelf is tasked with sourcing a mainframe computer for his employer. In the course of his research, he discovers the second-hand IT market. At the time, this sort of equipment is very expensive, but mainframe systems are regularly maintained and overhauled by the manufacturers. This ensures that they can be used for a long time and resold again and again.
Gelf quickly realizes how he can use his knowledge in this market. In 1979, he sets up a company, Computer Handels Gesellschaft (CHG), and offers companies his support in buying and selling IT equipment. He starts trading in used mainframe computers, initially as a sideline from home.
NON-CAPTIVE LEASING SOLUTIONS
Just a few months later, CHG is offering finance to customers at their request. At the time, leasing is not a well-established concept in Germany, but it represents the ideal solution for many companies. Independent of manufacturers and banks, CHG seeks out suitable equipment and the most appropriate form of financing. Leasing becomes our core business.
The company’s success soon necessitates a move out of our founder’s family home. CHG’s first offices are set up in Berg near Ravensburg in Germany in 1986, with an initial workforce of over 20.
CONSULTANCY AND SERVICE AT A TIME OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE
Computer technology has changed since the late 1980s. Smaller and cheaper PCs are replacing office systems with large mainframe computers. Initially, it is unclear whether this trend will continue, creating challenging times for the entire IT industry.
But CHG believes in these new, decentralized technologies.
With the introduction of PCs, the number of devices used in companies grows, their lifecycles become shorter and, as a result, the logistical effort increases. This prompts CHG to focus even more on consultancy and service, and increasingly offers its customers solutions that cover the entire lifecycle of their IT equipment.
In 1999, we launch our TESMA technology and service management system®. The application gives our customers access to their technical and commercial data in a single location. Since 2020, customers’ employees can even order their own equipment via the TESMA® self-service portal.
A number of acquisitions in the 1990s provide the springboard for CHG to grow internationally. The most important is that of FGM-Meridian, a competitor of about the same size based in Hessen, Germany. Our name changes to CHG-MERIDIAN in 1996, and we become a stock corporation in 1997.
The renaming to CHG-MERIDIAN AG in 1997 paves the way for us to go international, and we establish our first foreign subsidiaries in the UK and Austria in 2000. We continue to open up more and more markets, most recently with the takeover in 2018 of equigroup, a technology financing business based in Australia, which gives us access to the booming Australia/New Zealand region.
In 2003, the international CHG-MERIDIAN Group moves into its new headquarters in Weingarten, Germany, which is expanded in 2016.
We also add further technology sectors, such as healthcare technology in 2004. In 2011, we add finance solutions for production facilities and machinery, logistics equipment, and material handling vehicles. Today, we support over 12,000 customers in all three technology sectors.
THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Thanks to the triumph of PCs in the 1990s, our founding principle, the circular economy, becomes our main focus once again. In 2000, CHG-MERIDIAN builds its first technology center near Frankfurt, Germany, where IT equipment is prepared for remarketing at the end of the first phase of its life, once all data has been securely erased.
Due to the growing demand for our end-of-life services, the technology center moves to larger premises nearby in 2010, and is further expanded a decade later. In 2014, we open a second center in Skien, Norway.
Data security is our priority when refurbishing devices. In 2006, our eraSURE® data erasure solution becomes the first in Germany to be certified by the TÜV product standards regulator. The product achieves ISO certification in 2019.
We also aim for high quality in our processes beyond data security. In 2021, for example, all our sites in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are audited in accordance with the international ISO 14001 environmental management standard. Our technology center in Norway already holds this certification.
INTERNATIONAL, DIGITAL, AND SUSTAINABLE
Today, nearly 1,200 employees across 28 countries are responsible for a technology portfolio worth €7.8 billion (2021) in the IT, industrial, and healthcare technology sectors. We help large corporations, SMEs, the public sector, and hospitals to manage and finance technology projects and processes.
The core of our business model has always been based on the principle of the circular economy. We have been managing our customers’ technology investments for more than 40 years, covering the entire lifecycle from procurement and use to data erasure, refurbishing, and remarketing.
From 2021, CHG-MERIDIAN’s business will be carbon-neutral. To achieve this, we avoid, reduce, or offset all CO₂ emissions generated by our business activities.
In 2022 we’re paving the way for future growth and profitability by adding new, complementary business models: With devicenow GmbH as a subsidiary, CHG-MERIDIAN is entering the international market for device-as-a-service concepts. The newly founded B2B start-up circulee sells refurbished IT equipment to small and medium-sized companies.