Roger Kuratle joined the family business in 2009. He has occupied various roles within Kuratle Group AG, including Head of Key Account Management and Head of Corporate Development. He spent two years abroad and completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology alongside work. He has been CEO of the Kuratle Group AG since the beginning of 2020.
Watch an extract from the interview
How did you manage to get through the crisis so well?
We focus heavily on costs – we want to avoid job losses – and strive to make the most of the market through our services. At the moment, it’s service, reliable supply and quality that count most. Our employees and management have really pitched in. Everyone’s keeping a close eye on costs and you can feel the solidarity. So we’re in a good place today. Sure, we’ve had to dip into our reserves a bit. But that’s what they’re there for. My father and the management team have done a good job in setting up reserves over the years. It means we are benefiting now from the solid capital position and health of the company. Also, certain areas are working extremely well – the whole e-commerce business has been boosted, for example.
How would you describe the new reality at your company?
For me, the new reality is about how you deal with uncertainty and this situation where there is little you can plan, and any planning is difficult. It’s about how you deal with risks that are actually nightmare scenarios and deemed unlikely; these have grown in significance and have also suddenly become more probable. And there’s a certain degree of pressure that comes with that. You approach things differently, challenge them a bit more, for instance with regard to investments or new technology. The role of capital has also come back into focus and people are appreciating the need to set up reserves and safeguard liquidity. At management level, the new normal will definitely be about taking the right steps, to the right extent, to enable the company to move forward at the right moment, and to grow. Scenario management has also become important. We need to be able to respond to external influences and factors that are beyond our control. And to do that we need to stay agile as a company. We need to ensure that our people and our company as a whole have the power and the willingness to change. I can’t plan everything and I can’t influence everything, but I can prepare myself mentally and know that the only constant in life is change.
For me, the new reality is about how you deal with uncertainty and this situation where there is little you can plan, and any planning is difficult.”
How are you implementing this change at the company?
I think it’s important to ensure top management are aware of the need to be in control of their organizations or to manage them so they can respond to change relatively quickly. It starts with recruiting the right people, and continues with asking the right questions: Am I doing things right, am I being innovative enough or is this just a process that has become established? Are we just doing it like this because we’ve always done it like this? Management needs to set an example with this mindset. And the Board of Directors should be providing the right input and questions. It’s then up to mid-management and team leaders to safeguard our operating business in the short and medium term.
I think it’s important to ensure top management are aware of the need to be in control of their organizations or to manage them so they can respond to change relatively quickly.
How do you see the future?
As an entrepreneur, I’m positive and align myself to the potential out there. It remains to be seen what the medium-term impact will be. Opinion is divided on what’s going to happen. The situation depends heavily on the next couple of months, what happens, what doesn’t happen, and what happens in neighboring countries. But I do believe that there are opportunities in every crisis. To benefit, we as a company need to get to grips with the new normal. And we’re doing that by consciously following up certain topics and encouraging and supporting certain aspects. There are various topics, especially in the areas of digitalization, research and development, and client focus, where the emphasis has increased somewhat.
What are the new opportunities for you?
There are many opportunities for us, in distribution for example, but also when it comes to working from home. We invested early in mobile offices and remote solutions, and are already equipped to be highly mobile. Working from home is going brilliantly so we’re currently rethinking our future office space. We’d like to cut expenses in international distribution. You shouldn’t underestimate the costs you can cut by switching to virtual meetings, which are now widely accepted. There’s also some interesting potential in our sales channels and on the markets – some of that potential was already there but hadn’t yet been accepted properly by customers. Suddenly, lots of things are now accepted because digitalization has received such a boost. It’s absolutely fine that nobody comes by in person, it’s absolutely fine to use the online shop with direct system integration; in the past, the trust wasn’t there yet. The changes make us more efficient. We can work more productively in future and make better use of our specialists for complex consulting.
Suddenly, lots of things are now accepted because digitalization has received such a boost.
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