„Get dressed, young man“

W.O.M. WORLD OF MEDICINE GmbH has been a market leader in the field of medical technology for more than 40 years

Minimal Invasive Chirugie Foto: W.O.M. WORLD OF MEDICINE GmbH

One night, many years ago, the moment had finally come. A small green box lay on the kitchen table of a dorm room. What nobody knew on that night in the summer of 1972 was that medical history had just been made. It was the beginning of minimally invasive surgery in the field of gynecology. The table belonged to an engineering student from Swabia named Peter Wiest. Only a few months prior, Wiest had met with a professor from Hamburg – a gynecologist named Hans-Joachim Lindemann – who was interested in creating an innovative examination device with which to examine the uterus. And Peter Wiest was going to build it for him.

Lindemann had a vision. He wanted to be able to see directly into the uterine cavity and make diagnoses from within the body. Until then, patients had to undergo surgery. So Wiest built the world‘s first hysteroscopic insufflator. With the help of this device, physicians were able for the first time to dilate small body cavities and thus create space for the use of an endoscope. Lindemann‘s first comment to Wiest upon hearing about the small green box: „Get dressed, young man. We‘re driving to the operating room to try it out.“

When Clemens Scholz tells this story, he can‘t prevent himself from chuckling. „What happened back then is unimaginable today.“ Today, the 55-year-old co-manages the company W.O.M. WORLD OF MEDICINE GmbH together with Oliver Kupka. Out of that small invention on the kitchen table has emerged a true Berlin West success story. Today, WOM continues to lead the market in device technology for endoscopic uterine examinations. The company‘s ability to maintain this status is owed to some unconventional decisions. In 1989, for example, Peter Wiest bought an old slate factory in the former border area between West and East Germany in Franconia. His goal was to avoid the shortage of skilled production employees in West Berlin, which was still narrowly restricted behind the Berlin Wall. Three weeks later, the Wall came down. What looked like a mistake back then soon evolved into a successful model.

In addition to production facilities in Franconia, the company also maintains offices in Orlando, Florida and Hong Kong. In 2016, an additional production facility is set to begin operations in the USA. Besides insufflators, pumps, cameras and LED light sources, WOM has also been producing disposable medical items since 2008. „Today, it‘s not enough to just make good devices,“ explains Scholz. This is why the company offers its customers „full services,“ i.e. it takes care of authorization procedures, clinical trials, marketing and service training.

Even though WOM is now active throughout the world, „West Berlin is our absolute comfort zone,“ says Clemens Scholz. In 2006, the company took over an entire floor in a building on Salzufer 8 in Berlin. It‘s an outstanding location for the company headquarters, argues Scholz. Mainly because of its proximity to universities and the access to great transport routes. „We have a serious problem finding professionals,“ explains the managing director. For this reason, the company offers 15 jobs to trainee students and also works with promising startups. As Clemens Scholz knows, „The big challenge is to remain innovative.“

Stefanie Paul
Kluge Köpfe 2015