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Senior Management

Our senior managers are also role models for our staff. We are looking for managers who provide their staff with the tools and the freedom they need to achieve optimum results. Do you support and promote able staff, yet also demand that they use their abilities for the benefit of the company? Do you always encourage your staff to pursue their personal development? Can you identify with our corporate culture? We are looking for the best senior managers to lead the best staff by example.

Interviews

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Michael Bächle, Head of corporate management and SAP applications

Please introduce yourself briefly to our readers.

My name is Michael Bächle. I am 40 years old, married and have just become the father of a little daughter.  I'm from the city of Ulm. After obtaining my university entrance diploma, the Abitur, I decided to remain in the beautiful cathedral city in order to plan my future. Today I am responsible for corporate management and SAP applications at Uzin Utz AG. My other function is that of Quality Management and Data Protection Officer.

 

Why did you choose to work for Uzin Utz AG?

For private reasons it was my goal to win a place as a student on the cooperative education programme in the Ulm area. Looking at an overview of the companies working with DHBW Heidenheim, I came across Uzin Utz AG. At my interview the commercial director, who later went on to become head of finance, showed great trust in me. At the same time I was aware of his respect. Ever since that day I have always felt very much at home in the company.

What has your career at Uzin Utz AG been like so far - starting on your first day in the company and leading up to today?

I took up my first post on 1st October 1998, as a working student. After graduating from my integrated degree programme in 2001, I started my career path in corporate controlling at Uzin Utz AG. I have a strong affinity for numbers. That's why this was the perfect position for me, so I could come into contact with all the company's performance indicators. At that time the parent company's controlling operation was a one-man show. When my predecessor became seriously ill and unfortunately later could not return to the company, I was thrown into the deep end just after finishing my studies and it was a case of sink or swim. At that time it was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it was a big challenge that gave me the chance to fulfil my potential. On the other hand I had to mature very quickly and gain experience. The quick expansion of Uzin Utz AG also brought some restructuring and new responsibilities over time. Controlling at the Würzburg and Ilsfeld subsidiaries and quality management for Uzin Utz AG were just part of the duties and responsibilities that were gradually transferred to me. So I then became head of department, in 2012 I additionally took on responsibility for the SAP Applications Department and with this I became a division head.

What are you responsible for in your department?

I see myself and my team firstly as an early warning system in the company. We keep an eye on the business development of our company and regularly report on this to top management in order to be able to directly influence any negative tendencies. In addition I am responsible for the budget process of the German companies, which make up about 50% of Group income, and I ensure that we stick to the budgets. My team covers all cost accounting matters, for example product cost calculations, cost centre and cost type accounting, as well as investment calculations for our subsidiaries. We also advise and support our foreign subsidiaries on these and other business and technical topics. In the SAP application area, we first ensure that a functioning ERP system is always available.  Another of our tasks is to continually develop the digital processes, so that we can increase efficiency in the daily business and minimise error.  We're also responsible for supplying the whole company with figures, data and facts to make it even more successful. Alongside carrying out these remits, we support top management with various project implementations. In terms of quality management, my focus is firstly on compliance with defined work procedures and guidelines. Moreover the continuous further development of Uzin Utz AG's processes is also a focus of our activities. To sum up, it can be said that our responsibilities lie, on the one hand, in uncovering risks and potential for improvement, and, on the other hand, of course we are attending to the further development of the company.  Last but not least I am responsible for data protection in the company and ensure compliance with the legal guidelines.

What challenges are you tackling at the moment?

In our growth strategy, we have set clear goals for the Group. In 2019 revenues should reach EUR 400 million. That of course means for me and my division a tight schedule and an ambitious programme. Process optimisation and exploitation of synergies within the Group is a big challenge. The digitalisation of our processes and services is therefore only a part of daily business. I very much enjoy co-initiating and managing new projects, especially if they are challenging. Against the background of these tasks, responsibilities and ever-increasing requirements, it is currently also a major challenge to find and train specialist staff who will carry us forward in future, especially in the SAP application area.

What skills are needed to work in your division?

Of course the requirements vary among the different departments and positions. Independent of their professional expertise, all employees combine process-oriented, logical and, above all, entrepreneurial thinking. That is the basic requirement for success. However I believe that, alongside professional skills, social competence is also an extraordinarily important cornerstone of success, whether we are talking about the department or the big "Team Uzin Utz AG". Only in an environment of mutual respect and appreciation can we reach our goals.

 

The interview was conducted in December 2017.

 

Sabrina Svechla, Head of Human Resource Management and Training

Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Sabrina Svechla and I come from Senden. After obtaining my Abitur (the German university entrance qualification) at Illertal Gymnasium, or grammar school, I completed a cooperative degree in Business Management, specialising in the retail trade, and after my Bachelor's degree I worked in sales.  However I quickly realised that this wasn't all I wanted to do in my career, and so I decided to study for a full-time Master's degree in Advanced Management, focusing on marketing and sales.  I am currently Head of Human Resource Management and Training at Uzin Utz AG.

Why did you choose to work for Uzin Utz AG?

I learned about Uzin Utz AG at the Career Night event held during my Master's degree course. The HR representatives that I met there were very friendly and open. Their attitude appealed to me straightaway and motivated me to work there! Unfortunately I must add that I had had a rather mixed experience with my former employer, and so I was even more impressed by the pleasant, friendly interactions that I saw. My first impression proved to be correct: the mutual respect I noticed then was fully in evidence when I started working here, and this creates a special working atmosphere at Uzin Utz AG. I feel very much at home here.  I have the chance to make a difference, to fulfil my potential.

What has your career at Uzin Utz AG been like so far - starting on your first day in the company and leading up to today?

My first day was in November 2011, when I entered the HR Management Department as a placement student. During my Master's degree course, up to graduation in 2014, I supported my colleagues in the management of job applicants and also received small employer branding projects to manage myself. In May 2014 I was taken on as an HR officer. My responsibility was to support our employees working in the skilled trades. I learned everything that an HR officer must be able to do: ranging from maintaining the payroll to issuing references. A few months later I was entrusted with the responsible position of Head of Training.   It's so much fun working with our young colleagues, supporting them and seeing how they develop over the years.

What are you responsible for in your department?

I am now the head of the HR Management Department. In this position I am responsible for the smooth functioning of the processes and tasks. The greatest responsibility is definitely the monthly payroll. Punctual and correct payment of our employees is ultimately the basic condition for a secure job. Additionally, with my training colleagues, I take care of all the training at Uzin Utz AG, particularly the training for administrative and other office staff. More specifically, this means planning the training, supporting the trainees and incorporating them into the company after the training.

Tell us a little bit more about your team and your tasks.

The HR Management team consists of three full-time staff members and one part-time employee.  We have structured the team so that each of us has his or her own personal sphere of influence within the whole spectrum, from recruitment through to retirement. For example, I support my colleagues in R&D and sales. Our part-time colleague supports our "Plus Generation", which means those who have retired from Uzin Utz AG, and she goes for regular lunches, dinners and outings with them. In this way we meet the requirements of all generations, and our former colleagues are also connected with us when they become senior citizens and still feel a part of the company. This team structure ensures that each of us is an "all-rounder", and so we can guarantee that employees can be helped as quickly as possible with all their questions and problems. For we see ourselves as internal service providers and want to offer the same service promise within the company as we do to our external customers.

What challenges are you tackling at the moment?

At the moment we are dealing with the typical circumstances of our generations and society's age structure. One of the greatest challenges that demographic change has caused in our company is that of fulfilling the wishes and requests of our workforce in the best possible way. The increasing age range requires, for example, greater adaptations in our structures in order to respond to the various needs of the individual age groups. Therefore we go to great lengths to support our colleagues, particularly in production, in the best possible way, so that they can perform their work well even in the later years of their working lives.  A further challenge is the lack of specialists, which is already noticeable in the number of people following the recognised technical and skilled trades apprenticeships in our company. We are trying to meet this challenge with skilful marketing of our apprenticeships in order to find the best specialists and leaders of tomorrow.

What skills are needed to work in your division?

Empathy is the basis of our work in HR. As a service provider, it is our duty to use our intuition and treat our colleagues with sensitivity.  However, communications skills, the ability to be a team player, cooperativeness and the ability to handle conflict are also very important in our line of work. A talent for organisation, as well as a very precise working style, are indispensable.

 

The interview was conducted in June 2017.

Matthias Grafe, Head of internal Sales | Head of sales management of the group

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Matthias Grafe and I was born in Wolfratshausen near Munich. I went to school in Ulm and after obtaining the secondary school certificate, I studied for the university entrance qualification, or Abitur.  After completing my apprenticeship as an industrial business administrator at Uzin Utz AG, I qualifiied as a business administration specialist through a part-time course. Currently I head up the Internal Sales | Group Sales Management Division and also see through several internal company projects.

Why did you choose to work for Uzin Utz AG?

Twenty years ago Uzin Utz AG was much smaller, and with approximately 300 employees, not as well-known as it is today. That's why I found out about my apprenticeship through a Job Centre (Arbeitsamt) advertisement. The chance to start my career at a mid-sized company was very appealing. I was convinced that I could realise my full potential here. With our flat hierarchies we have the freedom to act and make improvements. Our company is steadily expanding and now we are present in 49 countries and the Group as a whole employs about 1,200 people. So quite a lot happened since I joined and I could actively contribute to and participate in this growth. That makes me very proud.

What has your career at Uzin Utz AG been like so far - starting on your first day in the company and leading up to today?

My employment history is colourful and I've had several positions in the past years. After the apprenticeship my first stop was customer service. A further important milestone was my function as project manager for SAP applications. Here I acquired a broad basic knowledge and understanding of processes and attracted the attention of the top management with certain projects. / top management got to know me through certain projects. As a result, 11 years ago I was given the task of setting up the Sales Management Department and could prove myself in a completely new job.  Meanwhile, as Head of the Internal Sales and Group Sales Management Division, I manage a team of 20 people.

What are you responsible for in your department?

As Head of Internal Sales I'm responsible for customer service both domestically and abroad. This covers all customer-related processes, from the quote, the receipt of the order up to the dispatch and the issuing of the invoice. In the sales management area I am responsible for the reporting activities of 120 sales colleagues. Other focuses are price controlling, the setting and implementation of pricing, as well as service and the further development of our CRM system. Additionally I am responsible for our Service Center. This serves as the sales back office for the organisation of customer training courses, for example.

Tell us a little bit more about your team and your tasks.

As I mentioned at the beginning, our company is growing strongly and our corporate strategic goal is to achieve sales revenue of EUR 400 million by 2019.  The logical consequence is the further development of my whole division. Along with the support of various projects, like for example digitalisation topics in the Order Department, development of customer master data and customer focus, my main task is of course staff management. I have a very heterogeneous team of all age groups. Two of my colleagues have now worked at Uzin Utz AG for over 35 years, while seven team members have now completed their apprenticeships with us. I greatly value this mixture of experienced and very young colleagues.

What challenges are you tackling at the moment?

The greatest challenge is the development of various job-sharing models. As we don't want to - and can't - do without young parents on our staff, it is very important to find sensible solutions in order to organise the return to work after parental leave in the best possible way. This is a challenge, as I've already said, but one which I gladly take on. From my own experience, and as the father of a three-year-old son, I know how important it is to lead a balanced and fulfilled life. So a good work-life balance is an issue close to my heart.

What skills are needed to work in your division?

It's very important to me that all my team work independently and take responsibility for what they do.  A fine feeling for our customers' needs and of course enjoyment in working with customers are the basic requirements for working in my team. Accurate work, as well as a certain amount of organisational talent, is indispensable.

What would you do differently today, if you had the chance?

Not much, everything is fine as it is. I can prove my skills every day and continue my development as usual. Our company culture of appreciation and respect is unique. I feel a strong attachment to the company, which began many years ago. However, looking back today there is one thing I would do differently: I would like to spend some time abroad. I very much envy the valuable experience that the students and young professionals have had. 

Please give us your final message.

What does Uzin Utz mean to me? Going to work every morning with a smile on my face, having a large amount of freedom every day to plan the further development of my division and being part of a successful team.

 

The interview was conducted in May 2017.

Sina Schmid, Manager of the Customer Service Department

How long have you worked at Uzin Utz AG and what is your role?

I have been working at the company since 2005 and I run the German customer service department.


Which area do you work in? What brand do you work for?

I am the manager of the customer service department and have a very dedicated team of 11 employees. We support customers of the brands UZIN, codex, WOLFF and RZ. What is important in this role is to support a firmly defined customer territory in order to build up high levels of customer loyalty. My area covers some parts of Lower Saxony, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A large part of my job includes project work and the continuous optimisation of our area. I find the following motto “He who stops getting better has ceased being good” (Philip Rosenthal) very appropriate.


What is your career background? Why this task?

When I joined Uzin Utz AG I started my training to become an industrial sales representative for international business management and I was then taken on in the customer service department. Relatively quickly I got the chance, deputising for someone else, to take over the management of the department. When our former departmental manager rose to become the manager of the whole area, I took on the management of customer service for Germany in 2011.


And what do you particularly enjoy in your role?

I very much enjoy leading such a highly motivated team and encouraging its further development – and also, together with this team, satisfying our customers' requirements. It is particularly great when we can help a customer to solve a problem and then inspire them. It is also exciting to optimise processes and drive projects forward. My role is totally varied.


What does it mean to be a manager?

As a manager you always have to be conscious of the fact that you are a role model. This also includes a conscious decision to align your own values to the company values and ideas and then to embody them and pass them on to others. It is important to create good framework conditions and structures for one's own area so that every employee can act independently and continue their development. Therefore in a workshop together with my team, I define objectives that we can work towards during the year.

Management also requires an ability to act based on specific situations and an understanding of the different characters in the team. I believe open communications to be very important.

As a manager you should not only be focusing on your own area but for instance when it is a question of process optimisations one should have a cross-departmental thought process, take interfaces into account and incorporate them.


For you what makes working at Uzin Utz AG so special?

The very good working atmosphere with colleagues along with an attitude of mutual respect is what makes the work so special. Esteem is really embodied at Uzin Utz AG! You can see that the the focus sbolutely is the employee.
It's great to be part of this successful family-run business.
In addition, I find the further development opportunities within the company to be absolutely brilliant.
 

The interview was conducted in 2012. Mrs Schmid now Manager of the Customer Service Department Inland & Export.

Uwe Ritter, Head of Operations & Logistics

What do you do, what are your responsibilities, and how long have you been with the company?

I have been with the company for exactly 20 years. I am currently responsible for Operations & Logistics. This includes production, materials management and control, projects, maintenance and distribution logistics all the way to the customers.
Almost 90 people, production staff, department heads and researchers, report directly to me.

How do you lead such an extensive and heterogeneous division?

I establish structures that allow the heads of the various departments to truly manage and lead their respective departments. I therefore meet regularly with the heads of department and, if called for, I will also meet with individual members of staff. We define clear target agreements and hold subsequent reviews to see whether they have actually been reached. Once target achievement develops in the right direction, I leave them a free reign, although it must be said that some people thrive on this, and others prefer closer supervision. I as the senior manager have to be able to recognise exactly who needs how much support. My division consists of five departments. We have weekly meeting with the heads of department where results are presented and priority measures also needing my input are defined. Apart from that, the departments are quite self-sufficient when it comes to decision-making and working routines.

What qualities does a manager need?

A manager has to understand people. It is far easier for me to do my job if I am capable of interpreting someone's emotional input correctly, rather than seeing it as a threat. You need to give people a free reign, but you also need to set them targets, and establish parameters that allow the staff to grow. Once that is the case, an area is well-structured and managed. We have defined a 'code of honour' for Operations & Logistics that sets out how we communicate with each other, and how we deal with conflicts. I do not think that it should be one of my priorities to motivate the staff, as they are responsible human beings capable of taking full responsibility for themselves and their actions; I must in fact do all I can to avoid the opposite effect of demotivating them.

What is your background?

I graduated as a Diplomkaufmann, i.e. I have the German equivalent of an MBA, and started as a trainee with a major corporation. I was given the opportunity of learning the basics of practical materials management and control in six or seven of their leading divisions before I realised that working for such a large corporation was not really my cup of tea. I wanted to work for an enterprise is actually enterprising, and gets things moving, rather than a company where it takes ages to get anything done because of hierarchical restrictions. So in 1991, I joined the company as Dr. Utz's assistant. It was an incredibly interesting time for me, a real eye-opener. And the first permanent position to follow after that was Head of Materials Management and Control. Then I was also given the responsibility for the Finished Goods Storage and Distribution departments. I also worked on some projects at the same time, the new building for plant number 2 was my first project. Another one was the conversion of the assembly control system at Wolff. We introduced the Kanban system in Vaihingen for the assembly control between the assembly and part-finishing areas, a very exciting project. And now I am responsible for the management and restructuring of operations, logistics, and production plants 1 and 2.

What do you appreciate most about Uzin Utz, why have you stayed with the company for so long?

I enjoy my job here, the company offers me the kind of security that I did not feel I had in a big corporation. I value the way the owner and the management board treat the staff. I value how projects are realised with clearly defined structures, budgets and targets whilst the decision-making authority as such remains with the respective managers. That makes it fun, it's as simple as that.

What do you appreciate about your staff?

I value their increasing willingness to shoulder some of the burden changes inevitably bring, and the increasing input on their part. And the wonderful experience that even though we are in a commercial environment, there is a high level of motivation and willingness to take on responsibility. The staff deliver really good results, provided the parameters are clearly defined and they are allowed input.

What would you tell someone who is thinking of applying to the Uzin Utz AG, and what skills should this person have?

I wouldn't exactly want to motivate them, for the simple reason that I take it as a given that it's fun to share in good results which you have contributed to. The most important thing is a discerning curiosity, that you are prepared to contribute something and make the full extent of your potential available to the company. You need plenty of independent initiative, but it must lead in the right direction. Drive isn't all that counts, what is also important is that you are a good listener. Projects are initiated by first analysing your point of view, thinking it through, rather than just ploughing ahead. The requisite dynamics evolve from a target-oriented structure. You need to know exactly where you're going. And the most important thing of all is, you need to want to work off your own back, show people 'I can do this, just give me the scope I need and I'll show you!'. That has been my own experience, and that is also what I expect from the other managers.

Jürgen Walter, Sales Director Baden-Württemberg

What do you do, what are your responsibilities, and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Sales Director for the Baden-Württemberg region for the flooring division of the brands Uzin, Wolff and RZ. I am also responsible for the switchTec products, and I look after the UFloor systems key accounts. So that is quite a wide spectrum, but that also makes my job so exciting and interesting. You get to meet very different target groups: the architects I tend to deal with when it comes to UFloor systems, and then there are also the flooring technicians and wholesalers I meet as a Sales Director. I started with the Siga Floor AG in 2003 and came to the Uzin Utz AG through the takeover, which was a real bonus for me.

What are the differences you have noticed between the target groups?

The differences obviously lie in the way they use our products. An architect is hardly going to be interested in whether a floor leveller goes on smoothly and doesn't go all lumpy when you mix it. They will be more interested in the ecological aspect and sustainability, and being able to give the respective assurances in terms of safety and quality along the whole of the value creation chain. You also have to offer architects additional services that make it easier for them when it comes to tender documentation, preliminary planning and construction time scheduling. Whereas a flooring technician is more interested in the quality of the products, the on-site technical support and the logistics, and getting value for money.

What does your daily routine look like?

I have many different responsibilities to deal with during the course of my working day. I might, for example, visit existing customers along with my team, yet also secure new customers. This close customer liaison is important to me so I don't lose track of the important things. At the same time, though, I also have to deal with a lot of paperwork, which I do from my home office. This includes the planning of training courses, for example, or customer events and sales campaigns. And of course it is also important to check the sales targets and meet with my staff to decide how we are going to achieve them together.

How many people are there in your team?

We are a team of expert consultants and technicians. Currently, six sales representatives report directly to me, plus three field technicians. So we are a small unit within the larger Uzin Utz AG.

What do you expect from your team members?

I expect my team members to be committed and passionate about us reaching our targets together as a team.
I expect utmost engagement, I also expect them to question the way we do things from time to time, criticism and constructive input on how we can do things better.
Everyone has a different view of the market, and everyone talks to their customers in their own particular way and you have to ensure that the company is made aware of any valuable ideas emerging from the market or the staff. I value this dialogue very much indeed, and I also expect my staff to do so. I don't want someone just doing their own thing with all their might; I want them to stop and think about the whys and wherefores of what they are doing, and whether whatever they are doing is actually a good thing.

How were you able to develop your career over time?

I started as an ordinary sales rep for switchTec, and then I was given the responsibility for a key account in that field, and through that I joined a project group on the subject of architects and planning, and that is how I came to deal with UFloor. The next step into senior sales management was a show of confidence in me, but also a huge challenge. I am a certified master of interior fittings and furniture installation and used to use the UZIN products myself. That was a great move for me, from technician to being responsible for selling the products.

How much scope do you have in your daily routines?

I have a completely free reign. Of course there is always an overriding, clearly defined target, but I can choose the steps I take to get there. I can take the initiative and plan the acquisition of new customers or the liaison with existing major customers as I see fit. But of course I also have to provide 'emergency services' when there are administrative or technical problems.

What do you particularly appreciate about the Uzin Utz AG as an employer?

I value the corporate culture very much, as the focus really is on the staff. We are a very people-focused company that believes in certain values, and it is also run along those lines. It is simply fun to be a small part of the bigger picture, to give some input and to get things moving.