Interview with Bernd Dahlinger
Our Managing Director about 150 years of family business
What does the 150th anniversary of our company mean to you personally?
First and foremost, I associate the anniversary of our company with gratitude. Gratitude towards our customers, employees, suppliers and other service providers who, over five generations, have made it possible for our company to celebrate this anniversary in the first place.
In addition, I also feel a certain amount of pride that the five generations of Dahlingen have managed to navigate the company relatively safely under occasionally challenging and adverse circumstances. These include the First World War, the world economic crisis, the Second World War, the financial market crisis, but also the complete reorientation of the company in connection with the abandonment of production at the Lahr site and the entry into new business fields.
What was the most important piece of advice you received in your life and from whom?
80% of success comes from outstanding preparation. This sentence was uttered many years ago in a conversation with a management consultant who accompanied the transformation of our company from 2002 to 2009 on the advisory board. And it still applies today…
You are considered a family man, is the Dahlinger Family an extension of your own family for you?
I myself am lucky enough to have a family with four children. The Dahlinger Family is much bigger, but I enjoy trying to transfer rules for dealing with each other within a family to the Dahlinger Family and vice versa.
How is that expressed?
This does not succeed everywhere and does not make sense everywhere, but situations such as friction, joy over common achievements, coping with negative experiences as well as controversial discussions and now and then disputes occur in both families. In the latter, leadership with a weighty share of social competence is additionally required
What are the most important values that have shaped Ch. Dahlinger over 150 years?
Reliability, discipline, respect, honesty, tolerance, fairness, commitment, enthusiasm, modesty and gratitude.
How important is the German market for Ch. Dahlinger today – and what importance do you attach to it in the future? Which foreign markets do you consider particularly important and attractive?
The German market is the most important market for us today. We have a very good market position here. This market will remain very important in the future in absolute terms, but the potential for us lies to a much greater extent abroad. We already export almost 80% of our products abroad.
At Ch. Dahlinger, a lot is currently happening on the topic of sustainability, especially in its ecological dimension, why is this topic so important to you?
The topic of sustainability has become much more important in recent years. For us, sustainability has been a central issue for many years, and we have been working intensively on it.
Based on our self-image of also making our possible contribution to the conservation of resources, we have taken numerous measures to date and are currently in the process of implementing more in order to live up to this self-image. This applies not only to our product range, but also to our entire supply chain and our locations. More and more of our business partners are thinking along similar lines, and so we are encountering a bundle of ideas and demands from all sides on how we can come ever closer to this goal together with our partners in our joint projects.
Let’s take a look into the future: What has to happen for the company to successfully survive another 150 years or more?
That is a very exciting question, which I try to answer as simply as possible. If the next generations in management and staff succeed in continuing to pursue a business policy that combines reflection on proven values, the abandonment of fields that do not hold promise for the future and the constant preoccupation with renewal and potential markets of the future, while at the same time living with passion, heart and soul and treating each other with respect, then I believe that is quite possible.
What have been the biggest highlights for you personally in recent years?
The successful transformation of our company in the period from the closure of production in 2002 and the development into an important supplier of cases, displays and decorations for the luxury and lifestyle markets.
Will Ch. Dahlinger remain a family-run company in the following generations?
As an optimist, I unequivocally say yes. However, this requires the training of management in every generation in such a way that they have the experience, skills and values that I already listed in the answer to the penultimate question. In this respect, it is a high demand that must be met.
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