Germar Wacker took over the function of CEO in the Haas Group four weeks ago. Here is an interview about his first weeks at Haas, his impressions, his values and also how the integration with Bühler is now developing.
"The first days and weeks are rich in exciting impressions and I had the pleasure to meet many qualified and interested people in this short time. With great interest, I’m learning about the characteristics of this specific industry, our customers, products, processes and results - a bit like a dry sponge dipping in water. It’s a great pleasure ... and I have not been asking – "Who? And why?” – so often, for quite a long time. Of course there were also many question marks and uncertainties in the context of the new situation with Bühler and Haas. But the high motivation I experience with the Haas employees and the great openness have left me a very positive impression of the people." And after a very intensive period of familiarization, Germar Wacker also sees many parallels with the industry, which has been accompanying him for more than 20 years in his profession.
WHAT PARALLELS OR RE-RECOGNITION FACTORS DO YOU SEE WITH YOUR PREVIOUS POSITION? "Many processes and challenges are familiar and characteristic for plant engineering. Long-lasting products with high demands on reliability and efficiency, individual customer wishes and intense competition are very typical for the global project business. They demand a very good knowledge about the challenges of our customers, high quality and close collaboration between the functions and business areas of our company to inspire our customers with our products and to deliver them profitably." The strategies of the Haas Group are also conclusive for Germar Wacker and they fit very well into the industrial environment: the development of new growth regions, an innovative further development of the product portfolio and the support of our customers for maximum efficiency over the entire life cycle are essential cornerstones. "These are currently topics that we have to address in a very structured way, and this is very pragmatic: survey – where are we today on the road to the goals of the 2020 strategy – and then defining the steps to achieve our goals in the long term", underlines Germar Wacker.
HAAS AND BUHLER - HOW DO YOU SEE THE NEW SITUATION? "The topic of Bühler was, of course, an essential factor, which has also occupied me intensively. What does that mean for Haas, what does this mean for us as a company, but also for every individual concerned, and therefore also for myself in my personal job? Looking forward, what opportunities open up for us? And it was a great pleasure for me to have the impression that Bühler's strategy and the opportunities offered by Bühler open a very attractive environment for us. It gives us an environment in which we can achieve our own strategic goals even quicker and more sustainably. Bühler literally provides us with what we could call a turbo engine - a great resource pool to better serve our customers worldwide. This is especially important for the development of digital technologies to enable us to produce wafers, cones and cookies even more efficiently on our lines. For Bühler on the other side, our proximity to the customers and rich know-how in the production of long-life baked products will also be a valuable addition to their business. The first personal contact with many executives of Bühler also confirms a great joy and helpfulness on their side, which I have seen very positively."
"Values that I personally appreciate, and which can be applied to the personal approach, but also for the business content, are quality, trust, respect in dealing with one another, ambition and organizational will. These are values which I have also noticed in becoming acquainted with the owner family and which ultimately inspired me to start with Haas. And it is these qualities that make collaboration successful with colleagues and employees. Additionally, I do expect transparency and constructive interaction with each other."
WHAT DOES CONSTRUCTIVE INTERACTION PRECISELY MEAN TO YOU? "This is easy to explain. It means being open to new issues, proactively approaching others and looking for support in case of difficulties. It is also a source of inspiration and a challenge – to seize opportunities and to successfully contribute to Haas's business. An essential basis is the quality of the work and the resilience of the statements made. In collaboration, I appreciate the input of the team, in the sense of a common exchange that enriches and serves as a solid basis for making decisions. When the decisions are made, I expect a very goal-oriented and focused implementation. Efficiency and speed then count. The type of management style adapts to the situation. If it has to go fast, it will be more direct."
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU PERSONALLY WITH REGARD TO HAAS? "We are certainly in a time that might lead to a look inside. The competition is waiting for us to do this. But the focus is on our customers and our business, our daily work. The first priority is the achievement of the 2017 objectives in a challenging situation, which must also be clearly addressed. Here, I would like to ask all employees for their full concentration and commitment, in particular to ensure the deliveries to our customers before the end of the year. Also in appreciation of the tradition of the Haas family who stand for this company. And another important focus is to create a solid but ambitious 2018 budget, on the road to achieving our 2020 strategy.”
"First of all, it should be mentioned here that even for Bühler the purchase process was executed in an unusually short period of time. Currently, a series of formal arrangements are underway to prepare for the change of ownership – also known as closing – at the end of the year. At the same time, we define the areas in which we see positive effects for both companies but also have to meet formal requirements. To this end, the contact persons for these areas are defined, which we will have to approach in a controlled and structured process in order to build up and refine the cooperation. At the same time, we will always keep an eye on capacity and day-to-day business and give clear priorities. Personally, I am very happy about the exciting potential that Haas brings for the future, the strategic and practical initiatives that are driven out of ourselves, and also the strengthened basis from which we can shape values for our customers together with Bühler. And I would like to say at the same time, quite honestly, that every integration sometimes involves topics that are necessary but possibly also "annoying". Sometimes, this also means renouncing existing things or changing them, such as adapting IT systems or accounting rules. I address these issues with openness, transparency and realism, and I would ask you to do so as well. There are two companies meeting, that complement each other in their fields of activity, products, regional strengths and together, we can open up many new and valuable opportunities. Together we will create the future.”