Mr. Puschmann, the RKW Group combines traditional locations with newly acquired plants. Does this not lead to a clash of cultures?

“Each of our locations maintains its own culture and mentality. As opposed to large corporations, we don’t force ourselves to adopt everything new but respect the history and conditions at every location. RKW’s culture of respect unites and shapes all locations”.

What does respect mean to you?

“For me, respect has many aspects: Reliability, honesty, tolerance, openness, appreciating other people, a strong team mentality and development opportunities for all employees. We look after others.

Naturally, RKW is innovative, performance-driven and financially sound. But the key factors are feeling positive, being appreciated as a person and the opportunity to progress. This applies to all employees and managers equally”.

Can you give us an example?

“Our managers are always available and approachable. The Board Member just as the foreman. We even promote soft skills in the production areas. We only have foremen who are master craftsmen and who understand personnel management: They don’t just supervise the work but also look after the people. If colleagues from another plant are with us, we entertain them in the evenings, organize leisure-time activities, go hiking with them or visit Munich. They shouldn’t have to sit around in hotel rooms”.

How do you promote employees in production areas?

“If a process engineer, for example, wants to become a master craftsman, he can be seconded to the six-month training program while his employment contract is on hold. He keeps his vacation entitlements and also qualifies for any annual bonuses”.

I would like to join RKW. How could I impress you?

“The most important point is qualifications. And you have to get along with us: With our team and with our values. We don’t want egomaniacs who don’t support the team and who don’t help others. We want to maintain our corporate culture. People’s personality must fit, whereby gender and age are immaterial”.

How do you reward achievement?

Bavarians say “Ned g´schimpft is schon g´lobt gnua” (not complaining is praise enough). That’s not enough for us. Our organization is open to positive and negative critique from above and from below. We vigorously maintain our culture of appreciation. Small actions are rewarded with, for example, a gasoline voucher which we personalize with a written dedication. Some employees are so pleased that they keep a copy of the voucher. Or we ask about hobbies and present a voucher for a sports shop or visit to a restaurant with the family. Money is not everything. We put some thought into our people”.

And what drives you?

“I love working here, with these people, in this team, because people look after and help each other. Perhaps we appear cautious to outsiders but we want to do a good job with little show. Having put the recruitment of new employees under the motto of respect sums-up RKW perfectly”.

How do you want to be treated?

“I want people to treat me openly and honestly just like I treat others. I need a trusting environment and superiors who offer reliability. Such a climate of openness characterized the purchase of the former BP plant by RKW. The RKW Group paid attention to the greatest possible transparency. The employees were informed and involved. The change happened very quietly. Many of the people already knew RKW as a competitor. They were relieved that the plant hadn’t been sold to a corporate raider who was only focused on Shareholder Value but to a company which upholds values and preserves jobs”.

Do your business partners also value RKW’s culture of respect?

“I’m sure. In our industry, RKW is renowned for its excellent and highly innovative products. And, of course, our extreme reliability”.