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12 Mar

Change in the WTH executive chair in sight (2)

„Trade - my passion“

Walter Thieme (right) hands over the company to his son Gero symbolically with a logo - Gero Thieme can finally take a seat on the executive chair as soon as the senior boss retires. Photo: WTH

(mud) – As an authorized signatory, Gero Thieme already bears responsibility. The future head of WTH GmbH in Stade describes in an interview how it came about that he wants to take over this task in the near future. As soon as today's WTH managing director Walter Thieme retires from active company management, Gero Thieme will take over - and is well prepared for it.

Question: When and why was clear to you that you want to get into the family business - and want to take responsibility at the top?

Gero Thieme: It was clear to me early on that I wanted to join the company. After school, I be-came interested in business and was able to get a taste of our company. I also had the chance to get to know international trade intensively: with visits overseas, but also by visiting domestic industries. I would like to participate in this interlinked world and maintain good business relationships with suppliers and customers.
In a family business like ours, you naturally have more responsibility more quickly, but also more freedom and opportunities to advance your own projects. You have to constantly learn, develop yourself and the company, so that in the end you can offer your customers added value.

Question: You were successfully involved in the digital direction of WTH early on, what was the decisive factor in dedicating yourself to this task so intensively?

Gero Thieme: I have always been very IT affine. When I started to work in the company, I was surprised by the many 'double entries' in the business processes. I was firmly convinced that it had to be easier. A good system has the advantage that the employees are given freedom, that customers and suppliers have complete and clear documentation about their customer numbers.
Sometimes I have to smile at the way we worked five years ago. I can now access my data from anywhere in the world. An electronic archive and central system make this possible. In the best case scenario, business partners do not even notice that I am calling my office number somewhere out-side the office. In fact, an Ipad with a good internet connection is sufficient these days.

Question: You are now an authorized signatory and largely determine the fate of the company; What do you enjoy most in your position - and where do you see opportunities for development?

Gero Thieme: In principle, I would say that trading is my passion. I enjoy being able to work in purchasing as well as in sales and being in interaction with many different people / nations / cultures.

I also find the world of plastics very impressive. Plastic is not just plastic! Only with additives and fillers are they brought to their full potential. We encounter plastics everywhere in everyday life. While building my own house, I discovered many of our customers - that is, their plastics. Without these products my house would probably not be habitable at all.

Question: What are the greatest challenges for you in the next few years and what role does per-sonnel management play in this?

Gero Thieme: As a family company, we naturally depend on good, committed employees. We need passionate specialists in our fields, both on a commercial and a technical level. I think that we as a company have to continuously develop in order to be able to offer our employees a demanding and varied range of activities and a secure job. This is the only way we can guarantee the best possi-ble service for our customers.
By the way, the COVID19 pandemic has shown us that it can also be done without fixed office hours. Meetings can be carried out digitally with little effort. I could imagine that the home office and with it the work-life balance will continue to prevail. But: Without trust in the staff, home of-fice is unthinkable.

Question: Let's look ahead: Where do you see the company economically in five years - and what are you going to do for that?

Gero Thieme: I can see the company at least twice as much in five years' time - and that is only possible with passion and dedication. The customers are the focus of our business. You have to feel comfortable with us and WTH has to keep going on the path of continuous improvement in order to improve our service even further. At the moment we will be handling the import customs clearance and the container onward carriage ourselves ...

Question: How do you feel about the time when your father finally clears the executive chair for you?

Gero Thieme: It's strange when I imagine WTH GmbH without my father. As an entrepreneur, he built up this company with a lot of work and even more courage and made it what it is today: a healthy company. Personally, I am very happy that I was able to work so closely with him and that I could and still can learn a lot from him. I am glad that we complement each other so well. Of course, I hope that in my new position I will be able to make just as good and forward-looking deci-sions in the future as my father always made as WTH Managing Director.