«The next chapter of a success story»28.Oct.2013
Beat Rudolf and Martin Peter have taken over the operational management of ELPRO-BUCHS AG on October 1, 2013. The internal regulation of succession goes hand in hand with the company's future-oriented strategy of safeguarding employment and creating continuity. An interview about the future strategy, strengths and the division of functions.
Mr. Bischof, with the management-buy-out, ELPRO-BUCHS AG sets a strong example for continuity and future-oriented strategy of the company. Was the decision easy for you?
Alois Bischof: ELPRO is a fascinating and versatile company. We are strong in our target markets; we believe in our customers, have good employees and choose our suppliers carefully. Here, at our location in Eastern Switzerland, the threads come together not only with our subsidiaries, but also with many longstanding customers from Switzerland and above all, also from abroad. We are committed to them; ELPRO should therefore remain an independent Swiss company. It is clear: continuity and focus can only be guaranteed with competent and kind leadership. We have found a good solution in Beat Rudolf and Martin Peter as new partners; I also have a friendly relationship with them at the personal level. Although the sale is a major step for me, I have done it in good spirits; I am open and "curious" for the new.
What does your future role in the company look like?
Alois Bischof: I am convinced of the quality of the new leadership and will thus withdraw from the day-to-day business. I will however remain busy with the completion of our new building. I will also continue to contribute my knowledge and my experience in thermodynamic issues of special projects, such as the monitoring under cryo conditions at -196°C, as a consultant. I will also have time to start new projects in some different field.
According to you, what characterizes the new management duo of ELPRO in particular?
Alois Bischof: Many ideas, which are being successfully materialized today, have already been co-designed by the new management duo. Although ELPRO is strongly driven by engineering, Beat Rudolf and Martin Peter also have a well-developed market economy approach. This is necessary in order to survive in the turbulent markets with an export share of 80 percent. I am therefore very optimistic about the future.
Mr. Rudolf, what will change under your leadership?
Beat Rudolf: Martin Peter and I have already been part of the management team for several years. We have co-developed the present strategy and we support it comprehensively. Therefore, no fundamental changes in the strategy are planned.
Beat Rudolf: The ELPRO Group has grown immensely in recent years. Today, we have subsidiaries in the most important target markets. This potential should now be used through increased cooperation, exchange of information and networking. A major plus of ELPRO are our highly qualified and motivated employees; many of our customers have also acknowledged this fact again and again. For me, it is important that our employees enjoy their work and can be proud of the company.
Mr. Peter, how does the concrete division of functions look like now?
Martin Peter: At the level of the Board of Directors, we three are equal partners and are responsible for ELPRO's strategic development together. This is the foundation, upon which we can build ELPRO's future. At the management level, Beat Rudolf will be the CEO and I will support him as his deputy and as the Head of Sales & Marketing. I am not expecting any dramatic change, since we are already in agreement with each other when it comes to important issues.
What distinguishes ELPRO?
Beat Rudolf: One of ELPRO's strengths is that we want to understand the customer applications in detail. From this knowledge, we often work out an innovative solution that simplifies the customer's existing process considerably or makes it safer. It has been evident in the past that we cope with this task better than our competitors; because subsequently, they often adopt our solutions and ideas.
What is ELPRO's central strength?
Beat Rudolf: ELPRO was and is a company driven by technology. This is a strength, which we want to cultivate even in the future. Thanks to our in-house Development and Production Department, we can implement new ideas for equipment or software promptly and flexibly. In the coming years, the brand ELPRO should be established further at the international level. Thanks to the good products and excellent service, ELPRO should remain the first choice for our customers when it comes to tackling a monitoring task.
The company has, in the meantime, grown into a worldwide operating SME with over 120 employees at different locations all over the world. How does the near future of ELPRO-BUCHS AG look like – which strategic corner points do you want to set?
Martin Peter: We will consistently continue to focus on the pharmaceutical field. At present, we are growing mainly through international key customers, who are among the top 20 pharmaceutical giants of the world. In order to succeed with these customers, we must adapt our processes and products more consistently to the international requirements of these customers. We aspire to be a partner to our key customers that covers all requirements from the field of "Compliant Monitoring" – right from research, production, storage and transport up to the patient. For this, we must continue to grow internationally with separate, self-controlled sales channels. At the same time, we are investing in the development and production at Buchs – among others, in the new building.
What, according to you, will be the central success formulae even in the future?
Beat Rudolf: We must create an added value for customers so that we can stand out from the low-cost competition. Today itself, ELPRO primarily does not sell equipment; it rather offers a comprehensive package with consultation, installation, qualification, calibration up to the operation of a cloud-based database solution. In order to be able to promote and develop this service business further, we must, in our key markets, be as close to the customers as possible. This means that we will, if necessary, establish more subsidiaries. As already mentioned, our proximity to customers, the innovative strength and flexibility are definitely the success factors, which should be cultivated further. One can however never manage a company alone as a CEO, no matter how good the success formulae are. This, in the first place, depends on the employees. The social responsibility towards our employees is therefore very important to us. We are clearly committed to Buchs SG and this is underlined by our new company building that is under construction there.
Brief biographies of Beat Rudolf and Martin Peter:
Born in 1969
Studied precision engineering and informatics; further education: Business Administration specializing in service management
At previous positions, gathered extensive experience in development and project management
Working at ELPRO since 10 years; initially as Head of Development, then as Technical Director responsible for development, production and services
Member of the management since 2006; Executive Vice President from 2011 onwards; Partner, Managing Director and CEO since October 1, 2013
Born in 1973
Studied Business Administration at the University of St. Gallen (lic. oec. HSG)
At previous positions, gathered extensive experience in sales, marketing, product management, key account management and management consultancy
Worked at Envirotainer between 2003 and 2008; the company focused on cold chain management for pharmaceutical companies; he co-designed the turnaround.
Working at ELPRO since 5 years; responsible for setting up the cold chains section in connection with the LIBERO PDF Data Logger
Member of the management since 2010; Head of Sales & Marketing; Partner and Executive Vice President since October 1, 2013.