Interview with Christoph Hauck
In 2021, Christoph Hauck will become the first external CEO in the company's 75-year history to assume the position of sole managing director at Bäumer. With stability and sustainability, he wants to keep the “big ship” Bäumer on course, relying in particular on almost 400 motivated employees.
Bäumer is a matter of the heart for him, a perfect match, so to speak.
He answered our questions in an interview.
A captain from outside takes the helm
Mr. Hauck, what do you particularly appreciate about Bäumer?
Bäumer is an excellent builder of special machinery, a hidden champion. I particularly like the sense of togetherness that comes with a family business.
I actually feel like I have "arrived at home". At the age of 21 I left my home country, worked in various positions all over Germany and abroad, spent several years working in England and South-East Asia, I got to know the world and now I have my workplace right on my doorstep. I am not concerned with aspects such as comfort, but I feel that my journey is complete, that I have arrived at my destination and that I can now take on this challenge with all my experience.
The former chancellor Helmut Kohl used the following quote in 1995, which has a great influence on my work: "Those who do not know the past cannot understand the present and cannot shape the future." For me, this means the following in relation to the management of Bäumer, a company rich in tradition: What counts is what was and is. I will not join the company and turn everything inside out right away. It takes time, caution, alertness and also mindfulness to make the right adjustments.
Bäumer is indeed a matter close to my heart, a perfect match, and I take up this challenge with great pleasure and interest.
I am looking forward to meeting the staff. I like diversity and so far have gotten along well with people and their particularities everywhere. And not to forget: I've been married to a woman from the Siegerland region for almost 30 years, so I've definitely gained experience in this area as well.
And is there anything you are particularly looking forward to?
The intercultural aspect is something I'm really looking forward to. The cooperation with many different nations and cultures, with customers, subsidiaries and representatives of Bäumer. The focus on the foam processing industry, the development of the latest technologies and working for a global market leader are also aspects of my job that fill me with great joy and I’m very much looking forward to them. And to be honest, I'm also really looking forward to the good canteen and the fact that I can get to work by mountain bike or on foot.
Do you have a favorite subject when it comes to your work?
I have always been working in the field of technology and sales. A balance between automation, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mechanics is important to me. I actually feel more than just an affinity for special mechanical engineering. Given my experience and routine in project controlling and finance, I approach this new task with a great deal of calm and confidence.
Is there anything that you approach with a lot of respect in terms of your new job as CEO at Bäumer?
Of course, I have the greatest respect for the task as Bäumer's managing director: I have respect for my responsibility, but without being afraid. Risks must always be carefully weighed, and opportunities seized.
As a matter of principle, I treat all the people I meet with equal respect.
What are your long-term goals for shaping the future of the company?
With 400 employees worldwide and subsidiaries in the USA, China and Japan, Bäumer is a big ship that I have to keep on course. Expecting an immediate response is illusory and can even be dangerous. My goals are stability and sustainability for the employees, satisfaction for the shareholders and to be a first-class supplier for our customers. As a first-class supplier, we need the right qualified and committed personnel and the right developments. Digitalization plays a major role here: We will remain a pioneer in this area and establish ourselves as a digital partner for our customers. Our focus will always remain on creating more efficiency and transparency for the customer.
What are your short-term plans?
In a year's time, I would like to have won the trust of customers, staff and shareholders, be respected in my position and have full order books.
What is important to you in the customer relationship?
Reliability is my top priority! Being there for the customers 24/7, honesty, fairness and long-term orientation are of the highest importance for me. But the exchange is also important: Listening to and implementing customer wishes moves the company forward.
Does mechanical engineering have a future in Germany?
Of course it does! In Germany, we have the advantage of having well-trained and innovative employees. Of course, Germany is an expensive location, but we have to compensate for that. We must always be one step ahead, not resting on our laurels, constantly innovating and investing in standardization and modularization.
In the 75 years Bäumer has been in existence, this is the first time that the company will be managed alone by a non-family member/external managing director. How do you handle this special responsibility?
This is already the second time I have taken on this responsibility. Back in 2001, I became the first external manager of a company after the family left, and it went extremely well. I am aware of the concerns of employees and business partners. I would like to see a "silent transition.” I achieve this by acting as if it were my own company, with prudence and a well-founded weighing of opportunities and risks for every decision. Ultimately, I expect exactly the same attitude from every employee.
Does the status of a family business still have a significant influence under your leadership?
That’s a clear yes! I wouldn't want to work for a corporation. For me, it's about the long term and sustainability, not short-term actionism. In contrast to the impersonal thinking of corporations, in a family business it is important to strike a balance between the satisfaction of customers, business partners, employees and shareholders.
In the midst of a global pandemic full of uncertainties, you are taking on this critical position. How do you deal with this?
With calm and foresight and the firm belief that the pandemic will end and we will be able to return to normalcy. There will always be crises and economic fluctuations; overcoming these is my job and ours at Bäumer.
No successful business management without ...
... motivated employees. I believe in a well-functioning team, in cooperation and in the sense of responsibility of each employee. Everyone is responsible and everyone is important!
Where do you draw your strength for the task?
On the one hand, I draw strength from my stable family, consisting of my wife, my daughter and my dog, who always stand behind me. For balance I like to ride my mountain bike and motorcycle a lot, traveling inspires me. Ultimately, I just like working, I enjoy it and I enjoy interacting with the people in the company.
Thank you for your time and candor. Best of luck for your new job!