Steinbeis experts help write the long-term success story of a medium-sized company in the construction industry
The key construction industry has undergone significant structural change in Germany and many companies have gone out of existence. The Flammer group of companies in the small Baden-Wuerttemberg city of Mössingen is still going strong, however. Its large footprint and versatility were an instrumental factor in the survival of the company, which not only offers housing and civil engineering services, but also builds pipelines, and provides horticultural solutions and landscaping. Flammer first started working with the Ravensburg-based Steinbeis Transfer Center for Technology – Organization – Human Resources (TOP) in 2004 and has received advice and support from the center with a variety of business decisions.
“We’re delighted with how the company is doing now,” says CEO Jochen Flammer, who believes that working with Edmund Haupenthal, Elmar Marmann, and the other experts at Steinbeis was an important factor in the success enjoyed by the business. As well as strategic discussions, for the last 15 years the two parties have held regular monthly meetings mainly focusing on understanding services that could not be delivered, monthly budgets versus actuals, and cash flow forecasts. There have also been regular meetings with banks and funding partners. “I really appreciate having the sparring partner sessions with the team from TOP. They provide us with thorough assessments and make me feel more certain about the decisions I have to make as a businessman,” says Jochen Flammer.
The company mainly takes on medium-sized contracts. “Avoiding big contracts makes us less dependent on customers, reduces risk, and makes the company less vulnerable to crisis if the construction industry starts to cave in – which is exactly what it does, at regular intervals,” explains Edmund Haupenthal, a director at the Steinbeis Transfer Center. In 2004, the company developed a management information system (MIS) with the Steinbeis experts to track monthly order requirements, and monthly project controls are also managed tightly. The company uses software provided by the construction IT company BRZ from Nuremberg. Not only does it create project offer, it also does the financial accounting. The BRZ system works as an add-on to the finance accounting and company accounts system, so it also allows Excel access to data, making it possible to set up extremely adaptable industrial evaluations in the MIS. Over the years, the Steinbeis consultants have become experts on the BRZ accounting software so they have also become extremely familiar with the add-ons used by the program. Not only can the Steinbeis experts set up evaluations of individual subsidiaries, they can also provide consolidated MIS information to map the overall company.
A MODERN COMPANY WITH A LONG TRADITION
The founder of the company was Adolf Flammer, the grandfather of Jochen Flammer. A bricklayer by trade, he set up the company in 1925 to become self-employed. In 1951, his son Richard entered into the business as a partner and in 1993 he handed over operations to his three children.
In 2005, Jochen Flammer became the sole shareholder of the company and the CEO. The experts at the TOP Steinbeis Transfer Center were closely involved in this development through involvement in strategic decision-making, which also entailed a partial restructuring. Two years later, the business switched to a different location and moved into a new building in the industrial and trading zone in Maybachstrasse in Mössingen. “We helped them draft the business plan they needed for this, complete with an investment and funding plan, plus meetings with the bank, and we played a central role in implementation,” says Elmar Marmann, also a director at the Steinbeis Transfer Center. The company also received help from the Steinbeis expert in acquiring a new division specialized in pipeline construction, within its own limited company with a separate managing director.
“I’m a builder in body and soul. We stand for top performance and always strive to find a good solution for our customers,” says Jochen Flammer. He also underscores the strong regional ties of his company. His “modern family business with 80 employees” always makes sure it thinks about “growing its own” workers. That’s extremely important to Flammer. He believes that a company can’t keep going in the market without training programs and good people. For Flammer, one of the mainstays of success for the company has been the long-standing partnership with Haupenthal and Marmann, who he describes as established experts in the construction industry. As the sole shareholder in the company, the regular coaching sessions with the experts from Steinbeis provide help in gaining clarity. It is not always an easy journey getting to where you’re headed, but despite all his trials and tribulations as a company director, the coaching sessions help Flammer focus on what needs doing.