A business leader at eye level
1. Was it your plan from the start to follow in Günther’s footsteps?
As a young person, you’re not known for being too decisive. Back then, Günther took me to a print shop when he had to deliver printing forms there. The large machines and the technology involved were impressive. Since I’m very tech-savvy, this industry interested me from that point on. That’s why I decided to start an apprenticeship as a gravure printer.
After passing the exam, I worked as a machine operator in my training company for almost 2 years.
At some point, Günther approached me and asked if I would like to start in production. Of course, we also talked about the future of Flex-Punkt, in terms of my future position. At that time, however, this was all still far away and dreams of the future…
2. What did your start at Flex-Punkt Druckformen GmbH look like?
Hired as a production employee in 2011, I first learned everything from the ground up about how things work. I worked early and late shifts and on Saturdays to get to know Flex-Punkt – the structures, the machines, the employees and the various techniques. That’s when I really got into it. In September 2015, I then took over as head of production.
3. What is it like to work together with your father?
Actually, this question comes up more often. Many people say that you either get along and manage to work together with family members or you don’t. There are plenty of examples in companies where you don’t get along. There are enough examples in companies where it doesn’t work generationally. That is not the case with us. Of course, we sometimes have different opinions, but everything remains calm and objective – most of the time. (David laughs) Meanwhile, there are areas where my voice counts more than Günther’s, or let’s say where he gives me a free hand.
4. How are these areas divided up?
Günther is mainly responsible for sales/customer care and takes care of larger projects in and around Flex-Punkt, such as the construction of the new hall, the photovoltaic system and the now newly installed ventilation system. For that, the day-to-day business is my construction site. But this has grown more and more, we did not define these areas from the beginning.
5. How do you deal with it when you have different opinions?
It depends. In the areas that concern me, I try to support my opinion with arguments, but I also let myself be swayed by counter-arguments if they are plausible. In general, we exchange ideas and talk about them. If it concerns certain departments, e.g. layout or repro, then you also get the opinion of the department management. In the end, it’s all about Flex-Punkt as a whole, and you mustn’t forget that.
6. Are there already plans for succession at Flex-Punkt Druckformen GmbH?
I have been the managing director of Flex-Punkt Druckformen GmbH since 01.01.2019. In addition, we have established a P23 team made up of the various divisional managers as an area of responsibility for the future. To a certain extent, this team can make decisions itself.
As Managing Director and member of the P23 team, I can veto certain decisions at any time.
7. What does P23 stand for and when was it founded
P23 stands for Project 2023, which is when Günther turns 60. By then, he wants to have everything on track so that he no longer HAS to be in the company, but CAN at any time.
The team was founded at the beginning of 2019.
8. How did it come about to bring P23 into being?
It grew out of Günther seeing what it’s like in other companies. There, you sometimes meet managers or owners in their mid-70s who are still responsible for managing day-to-day operations. He wanted to make sure early on that Flex-Punkt could run without him in the worst case.
9. Which characteristics must a managing director bring along?
Willing to learn and curious, a certain authority must be displayed.
In addition, economic thinking for the own company. Not to mention the willingness to be there for the company at all times. Both literally, i.e. on Saturdays and evenings when the shoe pinches in production, and figuratively.
10. Which characteristic would you like to have?
I would wish to be able to sort my thoughts better. You actually have so many things in your head, if you don’t sort them out and don’t even find the peace to write them down in between, you unfortunately forget a lot.
Authority was just the keyword, sometimes I am still a bit insecure in this respect, but that comes with time.
11. How do you envision the future of Flex-Punkt Druckformen GmbH?
I imagine the future in such a way that in the best case there is always good work to be done, we don’t get any waves of layoffs, families and children of employees are always “in bread and butter” as they say.
In the best case, we are always looking for growth. Whereby we are currently pretty much exhausted in terms of space, as far as the building and property are concerned. If we continue to grow as we have so far, we’ll have to see how and where we can still create opportunities.
12. What gets on your nerves at work?
Poor communication within the workforce. Also, rash decisions that are sometimes made. Especially when they could have been different upon closer inspection or waiting for more information.
Sometimes things are asked/questioned too quickly – if you were a little more proactive you would come up with the solution.
13. How do you respond to criticism?
Depends on whether it is justified or unjustified. I accept justified criticism and see how I can improve it. Unjustified criticism I honestly block very quickly and don’t see it.
14. What is a negative factor in your daily work routine/keeps you from achieving your goals?
When you make a plan for the next day in the evening and then the day itself turns out completely different than you had imagined. In other words, unpredictable things that make everyday life more difficult because you can’t plan for them – for example, when a laser is down because there’s a defect.
15. Can a boss show weaknesses?
Bosses are only human. Of course you can admit your weaknesses. In my opinion, admitting weaknesses is more of a strength. But you can also work on your weaknesses.
16. How would you describe the relationship with your employees?
You notice that you no longer have a close relationship with every employee when you employ 50 people. It was a different feeling with 25 employees. After a certain size in the company, a certain closeness to the employees is missing. I think that’s a bit of a shame, too. A summer party or Christmas party, for example, is always a good way to build up and deepen such relationships with employees. There you can talk to everyone in peace and outside the company. But unfortunately, this has not been possible for the last 1.5 years.
In my opinion, it is important to know how people are doing. Flex-Punkt will not become a company where you are just a number, like in large corporations, where you no longer have a personal connection to the management.
17. How do you motivate your employees/what do you understand by employee motivation?
We try to bring the employees along in terms of numbers, investments, news and projects. Simply to show that the company is not only about everyday life, but also to keep the company interesting. This should enable the employees to go to work in the morning with fun and to say “It is really cool to work at Flex-Punkt”. That is a goal, which one writes on the flag.
In addition, as an employer, you try to listen to the wishes of the employees and make working at Flex-Punkt more attractive through things like e-bike leasing, fresh fruit, fitness area, expansion of the cafeteria area, company pension plan, etc.
18. What did you want to be when you were a child?
At a very early age, I thought farming was really cool (David laughs). Professional soccer player was also high on the list.
19. How do you unwind after a stressful day at work?
In my garden or on my bike. Or in the beer garden with friends.
21. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Of course, still in Wellingholzhausen, in my house, preferably with a wife and maybe a child.
21. Do you like to go away on vacation?
Yes, definitely not skiing, no snow. Mountains yes, but no sports in the snow. I like to go to the sun. I like to fly, but Germany also has beautiful places.
22. Soccer or shooting match?
Do you have to choose?
Flex-Punkt Druckformen GmbH in portrait