Interview with Jörg Strömmer | emutec® GmbH
In 2018, WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance exclusively advised the shareholders of emutec® GmbH, Jörg Strömmer and Stefan Winter, on the sale of shares to BKW AG.
With this transaction, the company secured its succession. Both managing directors will remain with the company until the end of 2020. The sale now takes place approximately one and a half years ago. WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance GmbH took this as an opportunity to ask Mr. Jörg Strömmer about the current development of emutec® GmbH.
What was the reason for founding the company?
“My business partner Stefan Winter and I had never planned to become self-employed. Until the beginning of the 2000s, we were both authorized signatories in a medium-sized engineering firm. We quit because the owner and we had different views on the future strategic direction of the company. This was the beginning of the considerations to establish an engineering office, in which the own ideas can be implemented more stringently. ”
Short introduction of the company
“The emutec® GmbH is an engineering service provider for technical building equipment and technical infrastructure planning. With regard to buildings, we are general planners for all technical areas such as waste water, water, heating, cooling, electrical engineering, measurement and control technology, telecommunications, security and IT technology as well as fire protection and fire extinguishing technology.
Our headquarters is located in Norderstedt (in the region of Hamburg). We are also represented at seven other locations, in Neubrandenburg, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Jena, Leonberg, Friedberg, Cologne and Bocholt. Since its establishment in 2002, the number of colleagues has grown from 2 to approximately 200.
The service portfolio ranges from studies and energy concepts to various planning services up to object supervision and monitoring. Our client portfolio includes a large number of companies from a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, logistics, residential and office properties, and hotels. We also work for municipal facilities such as schools and daycare centers. The planning of state and federal real estate is also part of our repertoire.”
What was the reason for the sale of the company?
“The reason for the sale was to secure the financial future of the company and the related preservation of jobs. My partner Mr. Winter and I started thinking at an early stage about how things could continue after our exit. In the context of these considerations, only a strategic partner that would support us in the further development of our corporate goals was an option for us as a successor solution. A financial investor was not a possibility for us as well as an internal solution within the company was not in sight or possible.”
What were the conditions of the sale?
“It was very important for us that the autonomy for operational decisions remain with emutec®. Furthermore, a decisive factor was that the visibility of the emutec® name, which stands for trust and quality among our customers and the industry, would continue to exist and that the company and the employees could develop further. Site security also played a major role.”
What were the tasks of WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance?
“It was important for us to have a competent and trustworthy partner at our side during the sales process, as we were still involved intensively in our day-to-day business. With WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance GmbH, managed by Holger Fries with his colleagues Christian Hock and Tim Bieder, we found exactly this partner, who, with his extensive experience from a wide range of company sales, provided us with optimal support in financial, tax, strategic and contractual matters.
Looking back, we can say without any doubt that without the team around Holger Fries, we would never have completed the sale of the company in such a short time and in such a high quality process management.”
How does a company sale feel as an owner?
“On the one hand, we are happy about what has become of “our baby” and grateful for what we have achieved – but on the other hand, we are also a little sorry that our time with emutec® will come to an end at the end of the year.
For us it was important to stay with the company for some time after the transaction, to accompany our colleagues and to see that the promises made during the process of the sale were actually implemented. It also gives us a good feeling to have found a partner in BKW Engineering (a subsidiary of BKW AG) that builds on the expertise of the individual companies and employees.”
Why did you choose BKW AG?
“BKW AG was one of several interested parties with whom we had built up a great deal of trust right from the start. The discussions with the team of BKW Engineering, gave us at all times the very good and trusting feeling that we had made the right decision. To maintain a high degree of independence for the emutec® GmbH within a corporate group was an essential argument for us to go this way with BKW Engineering.
In the decision for BKW AG, we saw an added value for emutec® GmbH due to the network within BKW Engineering, which is now one of the largest general planners in the DACH region with more than 40 companies and over 3,000 employees. With our partner offices, we have the opportunity to provide, from a single source, the entire planning services that large-scale projects offer.”
When did you announce the sale to your employees?
“Immediately after signing the contract, we informed the entire workforce in a joint meeting in Norderstedt and, in parallel, connected the branch offices via video conferencing technology. Two regional meetings were then held very shortly after, at which colleagues from the branches were able to ask the management questions about the sale in a face-to-face presentation. Of course, the sale was perceived differently among the employees: Some colleagues saw it as an opportunity, some were skeptical and others were disappointed, as they would have preferred an internal solution. There are different reactions and thoughts, so we have had many clarifying discussions. In addition, the head of BKW Engineering initiated a so-called town hall meeting at our headquarters, which was simultaneously broadcast to our branches via video conference. All this has led to the fact that a corresponding trust has developed over time.”
Did the sales process go as you thought it would?
“We had immense time pressure in the process. The first talks between WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance GmbH and BKW Engineering took place in April/May and the purchase agreement was signed six months later. However, together as a team with WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance we were able to achieve the goal as well as the successful implementation.”
What has changed for your company:
“The main changes have taken place in the commercial area, since with BKW AG we now have a parent company that is listed on the stock exchange and therefore our financial statements must be prepared not only in accordance with the German Commercial Code (HGB), but also in accordance with IFRS. There have been no fundamental changes in any other areas. Decisions will continue to be made by emutec® executives. However, it is extremely positive that we now have a network which emutec® can additionally use positively for various areas, e.g. with regard to improved purchasing conditions, exchange of different expertise, cooperation in case of personnel bottlenecks as well as joint preparation of offers and handling of projects.”
What are your plans now? What do the next 10 years in your life look like:
“I will continue as Managing Director at emutec® until the end of 2020 and will train and support our successor management team. After that, I will take a break together with my wife before looking for new challenges. I have enjoyed my job very much in the past and maybe an option is to pass on this knowledge.
You can tell from this answer that the future after emutec® is not yet planned and I would like to take the time to consciously consider in which area I would like to work in the future, even after I leave.”
What three words come to mind spontaneously about WALTER FRIES Corporate Finance?
“High professional competence, very good partnership, loyalty and high reliability.”
Thank you very much Mr. Strömmer.