Joachim von Schlenk-Barnsdorf (CEO)
"We have to do things better"
Mr. von Schlenk-Barnsdorf, other companies are moving their headquarters to hip, urban areas. Why do you continue to stay true to your location in Barnsdorf?
First of all, it’s our main center of operations, our roots are here, we live here. And of course, for us, Barnsdorf is like a perfect island where we can continue our positive development.
But global political crises reach this island as well. What are the effects of the war in Ukraine on the company, for example?
Our business in Russia has remained robust. The crisis has not yet affected demand for our products there. Of course, if sanctions are introduced, the impact on us will be significant.
Still, we are increasing our focus on the so-called BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. These four letters represent an enormous work force and gigantic markets. Where do you see the greatest risks and opportunities for Schlenk?
For us, the risks are always the political contexts, as you can see in Russia as well, where people are currently talking about a possible expropriation of Western companies. Otherwise, in the markets and in the creativity of the people that live there, I can see great potential for us as customers, suppliers and employers.
You always hear that “the Chinese do everything cheaper”. How can you stand up to this competitive pressure?
We will never do things cheaper than the Chinese do, but we have to do them better. This also applies to service. I have always tried to respect Asia as the most powerful force for forward momentum in the 21st century and to recognize that our company has to orient itself with respect to this knowledge.
At Schlenk, tradition has always played a large role in any vision of the future. You represent the fourth generation in company management. How did the company look when your ancestors were running it?
During my great-grandfather’s time, before the First World War, the company was already doing business internationally. We had a large subsidiary in the USA, and even then we already had a long history of technology development and a group of employees who had already been with us for a whole generation.
And how is the company doing today?
The company has continued to develop and has retained precisely these strengths. We continue to be enthusiastic about technology and in the meantime we have become a globally oriented company. In addition, among our employees we have some families who have been with us for four or even five generations.
How do you succeed in creating employee loyalty?
They are able to continue their own personal and professional development with us. Inspiring enthusiasm for technical careers among women is also important to us.
What are the specifics of support for women at Schlenk?
We take a close look at positions with regard to employing a woman. Of course, men can also take advantage of our company kindergarten, but especially for women, it offers an option for combining career and family more easily.
Behind the businessman Joachim von Schlenk is also a person made of flesh and blood, of course. What is your personal strategy for dealing with stress?
Anything to do with mountains is relaxing for me – mountain biking or downhill skiing.
What do you find unforgiveable?
Any type of bullying. And intolerance, particularly racism.
What do you most detest?
Your greatest transgression as a youth?
I would rather keep that to myself (smiling). But the people involved are still alive...