Company’s anniversary: 90 years of Bauerfeind With courage and determination
For 90 years, Bauerfeind has stood for consistent patient focus and outstanding product innovations, but also for quality awareness and entrepreneurial vision. A discussion with Prof. Hans B. Bauerfeind, the Chief Executive Officer and grandson of the company founder.
Bauerfeind life: 90 years of Bauerfeind: How does taking a look back at the past help us for the future?
Prof. Bauerfeind: That depends on the distance.
On the distance?
Prof. Bauerfeind: Yes, on the distance to the event or to the decision that is to be assessed. The larger it is, the more calmly and probably also objectively we can assess past events and draw our conclusions. A lot is put into perspective over time and becomes less important – especially within 90 years. What preoccupies or even annoys us now is no longer an issue and perhaps not even worth a footnote in two weeks, two months or two years. In this respect , it is worth pausing for a moment – or looking back – in order to gain some distance and make a better assessment , particularly in our fast-moving world.
Many business decisions or product launches of the past have turned out to be a success: How much of that is chance, a hunch or vision?
Prof. Bauerfeind: There is no ultimate recipe for success stories. Chance, hunches and vision always play a role somehow. What also counts is sheer hard work. Because it is only through continuous work that lasting success is achieved. I don’t know any slackers who can boast of success stories, at any rate. For me, courage and determination are also part of entrepreneurship, since it is not only my own family’s well-being that depends on my decision, but also that of our employees, who I am responsible for and who trust me.
You have been working for the company for over 55 years. What do you particularly remember in the company’s history?
Prof. Bauerfeind: Every period had its moments. I remember how, aged nine, I had to leave our home town of Zeulenroda with my parents in 1949, and how a completely new life began for us in Darmstadt-Eberstadt: building friendships, founding a company and establishing a new livelihood in a strange town. As a child, I already wanted to help. Right after school , my school bag would go flying and I was off to help out in the company. I enjoyed writing invoices or do some bricklaying or carpentry jobs, because there was always some sort of construction work going on. The way back was just as formative for me. Our first company meeting in 1991 in Zeulenroda – I can still see exactly the employees’ faces in front of me: distanced, waiting to see what would happen, mistrustful. At that time, it was still important where you came from – especially for a new operations manager. All the staff had already had experiences of “Wessis” (the informal name given to former citizens of West Germany before reunification) or knew stories from hearsay about people who made some quick money in East Germany and then left again. That sort of thing also made me furious. However, it wasn’t shared indignation that then made us so successful in Zeulenroda, but a shared thirst for action.
“For me, the company’s greatest success is that we do not compromise on quality at any time – not in the products, not in consultation and not in our service.”
Prof. Hans B. Bauerfeind
What are the company’s milestones, in your opinion? What is the company’s greatest success?
Prof. Bauerfeind: I could describe countless product developments and healthcare concepts to you in that regard, which we report on in detail here in life Magazine: the invention of our Train supports almost 40 years ago was formative for its type. As regards the orthoses, the Spinova portfolio currently offers every possibility for successful multistage treatment , for example. Foot orthoses such as the TRIactive and the ErgoPad weightflex are setting standards in production technology. And let’s not forget our VenoTrain compression stockings: we can integrate microfibers in both circular knit and flat knit stockings. In addition, we invested in measurement technology very early on and created a standard from which medical retailers and patients now benefit in the digital age. But for me, the company’s greatest success is that we do not compromise on quality at any time – not in the products, not in consultation and not in our service. We have also been putting this into practice since 2007 as a principle in the Quality Partner Program, together with more than 1,200 medical retailers in Germany.
What do you see as the greatest challenges for the medical aids industry?
Prof. Bauerfeind: Demographic development means that the need for health products and services increases. That offers every opportunity for our industry. The challenge is to orient this country’s healthcare system towards the future in such a way that innovations benefit the patients. It is therefore also about how health should be financed in Germany in the future. In this regard, it would be disastrous to discard quality. What use is a product that is cheap to buy but does not work and is only worn reluctantly? Therapeutic goals can only be achieved with high-quality medical aids that convince patients with a tangible effect , the best fit , a pleasant feel and an appealing visual appearance.
Image: Bauerfeind/Andreas Chudowski