Please note: This interview was published in its original form in DUB UNTERNEHMER magazine on April 27, 2021.
The pandemic and resulting lockdown hit many sectors of the economy hard. Did it also have a noticeable negative impact on your client base or, on the flip side, maybe even give your business a boost?
Stefan Stenzel: The pandemic also affected us, of course, for example in the aviation sector. In this segment, our largest customer is Airbus. As I’m sure you can imagine, we’re experiencing massive drops in revenue there, which we’ve first had to mitigate. As a result, we implemented a strict cost management program – and it has been extremely effective. And at the same time, the situation has also accelerated the pace of change at our company.
How and in what areas are these dynamic changes occurring?
Stefan Stenzel: Three things immediately come to mind: working remotely; decentralized, agile decision-making; and digital communication. Maintaining a close dialog with our customers is the key to our company’s success. This is why in channel marketing, we implemented tools such as virtual trade shows and digital presentation rooms in record time. This huge learning curve, had it been set up as a project, would probably have taken us two or three years – especially in terms of adoption, acceptance, and the level of skill with which we use digital capabilities today.
How has working with your often large, institutional clients changed during this time?
Stefan Stenzel: Since we don’t manufacture our solutions off the shelf, we build relationships with our customers very much through close, personal interaction – whether it’s acquiring new business at trade shows or conducting face-to-face meetings during the development stage. This is now no longer possible for the time being, and our customers have also adapted to the new situation. But digital collaboration also has its limits – setting up a new project from scratch with a customer we don’t know yet is challenging in our industry without these face-to-face interactions.
What changes brought on by the pandemic will remain permanent?
Stefan Stenzel: In the future, we’ll look back and say we learned that it’s possible to do business without a great deal of long-distance business travel. And that in and of itself is a serious factor for many German companies. The second trend from which there’s no turning back is remote working. But this rests heavily on effective communication and dialog, especially when it comes to highly innovative companies. Brainstorming is definitely not easier remotely. A final aspect is that a greater focus on stable supply chains and a greater understanding of the need for Europe to take more control of its own affairs will also remain. And that may well work to our advantage. I think that the crisis has brought Europe together rather than pushed it apart.