Ruediger Schroeder : The past, The Present & The Future.
A specialist in developing new business strategies, a man famous for turning around fortunes of many manufacturing companies by taking them to unprecedented growth level. Ruediger Schroeder is a name synonymous with the rise of cleaning machinery industry. The managing director of Karcher India, Mr. Schroeder remains as enthusiastic, honest & humble towards his role as he was on the day he started his career. His enthusiasm, honesty & humility are perhaps the reason behind the success he has enjoyed in his career along with the institutions & organizations he has worked with.
Tyre times caught up with Mr. Schroeder last week for an interview. Below is the transcript for the same:
1. Mr. Schroeder let us start by throwing some light on your life before you joined this Industry.
Besides 4 years, I have spent my whole life in the cleaning machine industry. For 4 years I was leading construction equipment manufacturer in Germany. I have worked in the Cleaning Industry in Europe, the US and now since 4 years in India.
2. And, what made you chose this industry over the range of options that you might have had at the time. Was it by chance or choice?
During my university time I did an internship in the US with a German cleaning machine manufacturer. I must have made a good impression so they offered me my first job.
3. You have recently joined Karcher, around a year & a half ago to be precise, how has been the journey so far?
Of course there are always challenges but so far my journey with Karcher in India was quite good and I think we accomplished a lot.
4. Judging by your profile available online you have had a much diversified career ranging from sales to consulting to Cleaning Industry. Would you like to shed some more light on that?
It was not as diverse as it might look like. Even when I was working as a consultant it was somehow related to the Cleaning Industry. The Cleaning Industry is quite fascinating, i.e. it is the biggest employer world-wide and most of the people don?t realize it. Also not only in India, in other countries too, people who are working in our industry not appreciated from the society as they should be. If all cleaning staff would go on strike in any country it would be a big mess.
5. Last year Karcher India opened what we believe is its operations branch in Kerala. I believe this the tenth location for Karcher in India. What else does future holds for Karcher in India?
Karcher India has opened indeed its 10th branch office last year in Kerala. We will continue to add one or two new offices each year for the foreseeable future in big cities or industrial centers.
6. Karcher’s business in India has been largely limited on B2B model or such is the general perception. With the array of household cleaning equipment that Karcher boasts of, are there any plans to capture this domestic household market in India?
Karcher has been in India by now for nearly 20 years. Since 2011, we are a 100 % subsidiary. Up till 3 years ago we concentrated mainly on our professional line. However, we see a huge potential for the growth of our domestic household products which we call Home & Garden range and come in yellow colors whereas our professional line showed in anthracite. We are building up a separate Sales Division and have had last year already very promising success.
7. We have noticed Karcher is a favorite among the various industries where cleaning equipment is needed on a day to day basis. The likes of Automotive Industry, Hotel Industry, Institutions & Manufacturing industries are to name but a few. At the same time we have also noticed a few other companies trying to compete with Karcher on that front. What is your strategy to beat off this competition? Can we get a glimpse of what Karcher has planned for the future?
Karcher is a world-wide the biggest manufacturer in the Cleaning Machine Industry. Our innovation rate is unmatched. So we are offering to our customers constantly new cleaning solutions with better cleaning results, more efficient machines and a better price/performance ratio. Also our products are designed to reduce the amount of energy and water used, they are quiet and we try to use materials which can be easily recycled.
8. Karcher is a family owned company and, as we know with family also comes values & a sense of belonging. How many of those values have Karcher brought to the Indian Market with them?
Karcher believes in strong values and in all Karcher companies the management has to ensure that these are lived and follow. When we hire new staff, through our training and induction programs, we teach them for several days about our values, our processes and our team work approach. Karcher stands by its principles of social responsibility.
9. We have also witnessed Karcher as sponsors for various events & activities that take place in the automotive industry. Would you like to shed some light on that? Are there any up & coming events that Karcher might have their sights set on in terms of being a sponsor?
Yes we have and we will sponsor certain events in the automotive industry. Our professional products are used in the car manufacturers, in sales offices and workshops, our Home & Garden range is used to clean car and Two-Wheelers so these events are natural match for us. Apart from this last year, we have participated in the Auto Serve and Auto Expo as well.
10. Karcher, as we have seen has always been involved in many projects around the globe. Whether it is cleaning of Statue of liberty in New York, the fountains in Paris or Christ the redeemer in Rio -de -Janeiro, the list is endless. We in India have started a “Clean India” movement of our own, is there a possibility that we might see Karcher join hands with our government to start such projects in India too?
Yes definitely. We are working on different projects so by next year we should also be able to add an Indian monument on our list. But we are also working on supporting the Clean India campaign; you will see this in the near future.
11. In past when you were still a part of Roots Multiclean Ltd. you said in a program that ‘It is “completely wrong” to presume that business world exists only out of the big companies.’ May I please ask you to once again elaborate on what you mean by that?
You see, every market has room for big and small players as our customers have the choice and every day they decide new. So every company has to offer their best solutions to convince the customers to choose their products. That is our free market economy.
12. Okay that is enough about the business let us come back to your personal self now and we will make it a quick fire round, you will need to answer the first thing that comes to you mind. Are you ready?
a. Your favourite pastime: road biking and running
b. Movie: Casablanca
c. Ruediger Schroeder as a boss: I see myself as a coach or team leader
d. Ruediger Schroeder as a friend: you can rely on me
e. Ruediger Schroeder as a father: to be patient and let children develop their own way.
f. Ruediger Schroeder in a Good mood: nearly always
g. Ruediger Schroeder in a Bad mood: that must be really severe that I get into a bad mood
h. Your hidden talent: in my age nothing is hidden anymore
i. Your role model: Warren Bufett, he combines success, long-term planning and philanthropy
j. Your dream car: Tesla
k. Your first car: Volkswagen Golf
Well that was fun.
13. Last but not least, if there was one advice you could give to those looking to enter the automotive or cleaning industry or are just starting their careers in this industry, what would it be?
There are so many opportunities especially now in India where the market will develop in a quite fast way in the next years. Develop your own business concept, let some friend look over it or discuss it with several different people and then let your dream comes through.