"I am proud of what our 350 colleagues do for our customers every day"
Julius Kramer, Managing Director, J.H.K. Gruppe
How long have you now been working in the company?
Since May 2016, I have been the fourth generation of the family to join the company as managing partner. Before that I studied industrial engineering in Karlsruhe and then consciously gained my first professional experience at Deutsche Lufthansa in a completely different industry and a differently organized company. Until January 2018 I shared the leadership of the company with my father, Ingo Kramer, and other colleagues, before I took over the entrepreneurial responsibility. Together with Mr Kürfgen, since 09/18 managing director in our Holding, and Mr von Seggern, since 04/18 managing director of M+F, and all other colleagues we will develop our family business further.
How would you describe the company DNA? What distinguishes J.H.K.?
We are a convinced family business, where the generational thought is part of the company. This means, that we think in generations and not in short-term profits. We have got long-term goals and visions.
Furthermore, our reliability distinguishes us as we have been a reliable partner to our employees, customers and suppliers for more than 118 years. This trustful cooperation with long-term customers can only be reached if you show motivation and flexibility, and that is what all colleagues in our group stand for. This makes me absolutely proud. It shows that we align sails according to the needs of our customers in all service spectra – from pipeline construction to terminal automation software.
What is important to you? What do you stand for?
The values of our company are my personal values, which I guarantee in my daily work. Moreover, transparency is important to me. This includes open and clear communication with our employees as well as with our business partners. Positive as well as negative developments have to be discussed openly. Mistakes may be made as long as they are not repeating and we are learning from them and develop.
My door is open for all employees in the true sense of the meaning. Furthermore, I prioritise the team spirit which is bound to clear responsibilities and tasks. Here we still have to make some progress.
At the same time I myself stand for the generation change within the leadership and the ownership structure, but I also see this in other parts of the company. In the coming years e.g. we will have to bid farewell to retirement to some experienced and long-standing colleagues, therefore we have intensified our training efforts, because the belief that the business success is and will be achieved by our technically well trained colleagues lies in my heart.
What are you proud of?
I am especially proud of what our 350 colleagues achieve every day for our customers. Moreover, it is of course very special to get the chance to lead a family business in the fourth generation into the future.
Life in a group of companies always has its ups and downs. Therefore, I am particularly proud that our group never stops succeeding in getting out of difficult situations together with all colleagues with a lot of commitment, efforts and passion – whether we have difficult projects or economically demanding times. We stand together, that is phantastic!
What are the goals for the future at J.H.K.?
Our goal until 2026 when J.H.K. celebrates its 125th jubilee is to continue being an industrial service oriented group with high manual production. We want to increase the total performance to 65 million EUR in existing and new business areas. We intend to achieve this among others by intern profitable growth and company purchases.
At the same time we will continue improving our processes and working materials. Part of this a systematic modernization of our IT, which we started end of last year and where we see already first improvements.
These goals can, however, only be achieved together with our colleagues – therefore, we will increase our attractiveness as employer for new and existing employees, and this especially by focussing on education and upskilling. We reached already the first step. We increased our educational rate from 5 to 10 %.
What challenges do you see for the next years and how do we meet them?
I see more chances than challenges for our company. When we succeed in mastering the challenges I am sure that in some decades the fifth generation will take over a successful group of companies. From my point of view our most important challenges will be the following three:
Lack of specialists: To find and bind motivated and committed specialists to our company. In particular, to inspire young people for craft activities.
Digitization: To digitize essential processes or to make them more efficient by IT support. At the moment we are already developing the IT environment within the group. At the same time we have to promote the digitized knowledge of our employees in order to react on changes in their activities as a result of digitization.
We have to assert ourselves in the price and quality competition with emerging countries, e.g. from Eastern Europe.