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?
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?
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?
SPEAKING OF SUCCESSES: HOW IS SUSTAINABILITY MEASURED IN COMPANIES? HOW DOES SUSTAINABILITY BECOME VISIBLE?
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 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?
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?
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?
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE TERM “SUSTAINABILITY” IS BEING OVERUSED?
SUSTAINABILITY ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT BUT ABOUT THE COMPANY TOO. WHAT DOES RESILIENCE MEAN TO YOU?
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.
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?
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?
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.