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About us

About us

Sustainability vs. eco-friendliness

IN CONVERSATION WITH DR. JOHANNES HAUPT, THE CEO OF BLANC & FISCHER FAMILY HOLDING

Dr. Johannes Haupt has been at the helm of the group since 2009. Initially as both chairman of the management board of the E.G.O.-Group and the superordinate Holding Company, and since 2019 as CEO of BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding, which has become the Management Holding Company.

The long-standing Managing Director has already witnessed many changes in the traditional company and even shaped some of them himself. It was also his idea to firmly anchor sustainability in the corporate strategy. No sooner said than done. The outcome was the “Triple P concept” and increased awareness of this sensitive yet important topic.

When asked what makes BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding so special, the Chairman of the Management Board pauses for a moment. That’s not easy to answer; it’s a much more complex question that you’d think because we’re an industry group with very different companies, different brands, different business models, and different forms of distribution. The Family Holding is the framework that holds everything together. But with our vast range of products, we’re all about the human element, despite all our differences,” he says. “People want to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves—and we help them do just that with our products. I think that’s a wonderful corporate purpose, and it’s precisely what makes us so special. And we can’t forget our many smart staff members who naturally also make our company special with their dedication and passion,” he continues.

DR. HAUPT, HAS THE PASSION OF THE FOUNDERS BEEN RETAINED AFTER MORE THAN 90 YEARS?

Absolutely! Incidentally, we’re fast approaching 100… (laughs). A rather above-average age!

A lot has changed since the company was founded and it’s doubtful whether the two founders would still recognize their companies. So much has changed: The company size, internationalism, our language, speed, and maybe even the pressure we’re under. But the most important things can still be felt, and that’s our entrepreneurial courage, curiosity, and pioneering spirit. That’s what makes us who we are. And that isn’t changing. Our two founders Heinrich Blanc and Karl Fischer would therefore be amazed—but ultimately very satisfied.

YOU DESCRIBED IN TWO WORDS WHAT THE COMPANY IS ALL ABOUT: “CREATING VALUE.” WHAT DO THESE TWO LITTLE WORDS MEAN?
We are a Group that now operates globally. We do create products, but actually it’s all about eating and drinking. No one wants to buy a kitchen mixer tap, but everyone wants to drink water. People don’t want to buy heating elements for their baking oven; they want to eat cake. People don’t want to buy heating elements for their baking oven; they want to eat cake. This is incredibly important to us and goes all the way back to one of our two founders, Karl Fischer, who was driven by passion. He wanted to use electricity, which was available after the war, to let people cook more conveniently and safely than with fire. This was a great technological advance, but in reality he just wanted his product to be useful for society.
And this desire still drives us today. Ultimately, this is also entrepreneurial, although things are a little more technical at E.G.O. than at BLANCO. BLANCO has perhaps a bit more of a “designer” approach because it doesn’t produce a technical component but an end product. At the end of the day though, one things is exactly the same: We’re very close to what people want and need. And that’s why what we do is “create value.”
TRADITION AND SUSTAINABILITY—DO THEY GO TOGETHER AT ALL?
Or are they the same thing? Two of the companies have been around for almost 100 years. As a company, when you reach this ripe old age then you are sustainable by definition. That’s because the company has not only managed their operations well, but also analyzed the past and looked to the future in equal measure.
Historically, we have also always ensured that we use resources sparingly. There have been many sustainable projects in the past, which is why this is a long-standing tradition for us. These two terms therefore cannot be separated from one another at BLANC FISCHER Family Holding.
Or, put simply: This company is traditionally sustainable.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO MAKE SUSTAINABILITY A KEY INTEGRATED PART OF YOUR CORPORATE STRATEGY NOW?
The reason is precisely because we have always been sustainable. Except this wasn’t integrated into the corporate strategy yet and wasn’t approached systematically. We are now anchoring sustainability in order to make it an essential, permanent, and natural part of the Group. This will give this issue a whole new angle. It will become more central and comprehensive, and will be communicated even better and be more visible to all employees.
SPEAKING OF SUCCESSES: HOW IS SUSTAINABILITY MEASURED IN COMPANIES? HOW DOES SUSTAINABILITY BECOME VISIBLE?
With hard facts and figures, as unromantic as this sounds! We are very focused on numbers, and we can measure all 3P. PERFORMANCE, for example: How much have we grown, how is our liquidity or resilience, or how are we doing in terms of internationalization? Numbers are stored using a master plan that must be complied with. The same rules are in place for PLANET and PEOPLE. Whether it’s occupational health and safety management or the ergonomics program, recycling or energy savings—we can depict all of these aspects in figures. This lets us see what has changed as a result of the implemented measures.
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WE STRIVE TO TAKE A GLOBAL APPROACH WHEN IT COMES TO SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES.

WHERE DOES THE BLANC FISCHER FAMILY HOLDING HAVE THE MOST CATCHING-UP TO DO, AND WHERE ARE THE 3PS DOING PARTICULARLY WELL?
We excel at PERFORMANCE and PEOPLE. I’m really pleased with what has been done so far and what we’re still doing in this area.
We still need to take action in the PLANET segment though; we and our subgroups have potential to become even better here. It’s all about CO2 and our carbon footprint. We need to set ourselves even higher standards in this area. We need to tackle environmental issues such as water consumption, air pollution, and electricity consumption, and work even harder on these issues than we currently are. Let’s look at an example: If we replace all the lights in a factory with energy-saving LED bulbs, this will cost money but will save a lot of electricity over the coming years and we will generate less CO2 .
Although we’re already on the right track, we still have a way to go—and we’ll certainly be faced with a few challenges along the way.
WHAT MIGHT THESE BE, YOU WONDER?
A classic conflict of objectives, for example: If you look at the share of people who work at
BLANC FISCHER Family Holding in Germany compared to how many products are sold in Germany, this is a poor ratio. We should really change our value creation approach, get closer to the regional markets and reduce the number of factories in Germany so that we can be closer to our customers from a logistical perspective. But would we feel better then? This is a classic conflict of objectives: Transport versus jobs. That’s why we reduce the amount of CO2 in our logistics, we transport more goods by rail, and we load trucks more efficiently, to name but a few examples.
OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE DIFFERENT SPECIFICATIONS WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMATE POLICY. COULD THE NEWNAN SITE IN THE USA, FOR EXAMPLE, SERVE AS A ROLE MODEL FOR COMPANIES IN NORTH AMERICA?
We strive to take a global approach, which means that we do the same thing in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Spain, and even in Oberderdingen. Although customers in some countries are less interested in sustainability than in others, we still implement it everywhere because we don’t differentiate between countries. Things like cybersecurity and sustainability cannot be done in half-measures.
THE ISSUE OF SUSTAINABILITY HAS BEEN GIVEN NEW IMPETUS IN RECENT YEARS, NOT LEAST BECAUSE OF GRETA THUNBERG AND THE “FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE” MOVEMENTS THAT EMERGED AROUND THE GLOBE—HOW DO YOU SEE THIS DEVELOPMENT?
On the one hand I rate it positively, but on the other I find it frustrating. Greta certainly deserves praise for getting people to focus more on sustainability and environmental protection again. That’s great, of course. But what I find frustrating is how some of the public spaces look after the Friday demonstrations. Countless paper cups and paper bags are just discarded and rubbish piles up. It doesn’t need to be like this, especially given their goal. Nevertheless, Greta’s example has put sustainability back in the spotlight, and it won’t go anywhere any time soon—which is fantastic!
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE TERM “SUSTAINABILITY” IS BEING OVERUSED?
A little, perhaps, but just because it’s used excessively doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter and should be disregarded. That would be wrong. On the contrary: Some things need to be laid out again and again. You have to annoy people with them. That’s what it takes for something to change. I had this very discussion with the Board of Directors of BLANC FISCHER Family Holding. It was a lengthy conversation, and we finally came up with a name for the concept: 3P or Triple P—we didn’t simply want to call it “sustainability.” Nowadays, even the large supermarket and discounter chains are claiming to be sustainable. Why are they doing this? Because they serve people’s needs, and therefore the desire for regional, vegan, or sustainable products. Is this a credible approach though? Speaking for our Group, I continue to believe that a label is important, and what we’re doing is also important and appropriate. I am 100% sure of this. However, we must be aware that sustainable doesn’t just mean eco-friendly! To return to your question: Yes, the concept of sustainability is somewhat overused. But it is still important—perhaps even for this very reason.
SUSTAINABILITY ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT BUT ABOUT THE COMPANY TOO. WHAT DOES RESILIENCE MEAN TO YOU?
I see resilience in two ways. On the one hand, from an economical perspective. A company is resilient when it is economically sound and has a strong foundation. Specifically, this means that we need reserves, a good equity ratio, and high liquidity. is very particular about what resilience must look like.
On the other hand, resilience is also about the health of the individual or of our employees because anyone who is healthy is resilient. This applies to companies and people in equal measure. The COVID-19 pandemic is, above all, a health crisis—so it’s clear how important resilience is for us in this respect.
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A.I.R. – WE NEED AIR TO BREATHE, WHICH FITS PERFECTLY INTO THE SUSTAINABILITY DISCUSSION WE WANT TO STIMULATE.

HOW HAS THE BLANC FISCHERGROUP BEEN DEALING WITH THE COVID-19 CRISIS?

Our employees’ health is an absolute priority. This is followed by our operations, processes, and ability to deliver to the customer. How was this all organized? Through the crisis management committee, communication, and clear requirements—from masks to tests and hygiene concepts. We created liquidity, saved costs, and slowed down investments. Anyone who was able to work from home did so. We also made decisions centrally from Oberderdingen. All sites followed our one line of commands, so to speak. The key elements that helped us get through these difficult times were transparency, vigor, and speed.

I am very proud of all our subgroups and employees for pulling together and trusting us! Bear in mind that the pandemic isn’t over yet…
SPEAKING OF OUR EMPLOYEES: SUSTAINABILITY IS ALSO ABOUT THE HUMAN FACTOR. WITHOUT PEOPLE, NOTHING WOULD WORK. WHAT DOES THE BLANC FISCHER-GROUP DO FOR ITS STAFF?
How much time do you have? (laughs). Health management is very important to us. We support a wide variety of sports groups, offer skin screening, and support tests and vaccinations. Put simply, we try to maintain and improve our employees’ health.
Our diverse offering helps to make the lives of our colleagues a little easier. A good work-life balance also plays a role here and this is supported by remote work. By now, even I have overcome my reservations towards working from home and on the go. The employees are as productive as ever. There will be less working on company premises in future, which is good. I It will also change the way employees are managed, with more based on objectives.
A.I.R.—THREE LITTLE LETTERS THAT PROMISE SO MUCH. WHAT DOES THE TITLE OF THE FIRST BLANC FISCHER FAMILY HOLDING SUSTAINABILITY REPORT MEAN?
We need air to breathe, which fits perfectly into the sustainability discussion we want to stimulate. I really like the initials:
A for Action: We’re doing something, we’re tackling it! It’s the opposite of reaction, and I like that. 
I for Innovation: We’re innovative. innovative. 
R for Responsibility: We’re responsible for the company, environment, and people. The abbreviation “A.I.R.” sums up what we’ve been doing for a long time!
WHERE WILL BLANC FISCHER FAMILY HOLDING STAND IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABILITY IN FIVE OR TEN YEARS FROM NOW?
I hope that we’ll be a flagship for other companies in our industry. I want to be confident about our employees, customers, and suppliers, and how we’re positioned.

We’re not only eco-friendly, we’re sustainable in every respect. We’re excellent, we perform well, we have the best people and we take care of them. We’re also very environmentally sustainable.

Sustainability Report 2021
as an interactive PDF

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