Many small to medium-sized businesses are based in the western German state of North Rhine Westphalia and one was awarded a prize for being the best employer in this sector in 2008: Mennekes from Kirchhundem in the Sauerland region.
Walter Menneke's father Aloys invented the electric lighter after World War Two when matches were in short supply. His son took the business in a different direction, building up the company over the last 30 years into the world leader for industrial plugs. The firm offers more than 11,000 different plug systems, has a sales network in 90 countries, an annual turnover of almost 100 million euros and bases in Saxony and China. Sixty year-old Walter Menneke still has big expansion plans. In August this year, he opened a second factory in Nanjing, China and he would also like a slice of the multi-billion Panama project. A report by Michael Altenhenne.