Interview: Christof Droste, Hella Saturnus
The SATURNUS company was established in 1921, producing packaging goods & products out of sheet metal for the chemical and food industry. The production programme was extended in 1948 when the company started to produce lighting equipment for the automotive industry. Today, Hella Saturnus is one of the most recognised and successful Slovenian companies and Managing Director, Christof Droste, one of the most recognisable directors in Slovenia. He was Manager of the Year 2011 and best known for his direct and sincere attitide regarding the current economic situation.
How is Hella Saturnus coping with the crisis? Is the crisis affecting your business?
We’ve been predicting for a long time that even the automotive industry and for sure, we as well, will feel the crisis. Now, this summer, a slow drop in orders has just started. My prediction until the end of our business year (31 May 2013) is sales volume approximately 10% below budget. We have been prepared for some time. We invested only in necessary equipment and not into decoration or “nice to have” things. In other words, with all our measures in the past, we have generated an extremely flexible environment which now gives us the possibility to quickly adjust to the situation.
What are the differences between the Slovenian market and neighbouring countries?
The Slovenian market is much smaller which means much more flexible. I know that the small market has some disadvantages but we should concentrate on the advantage of flexibility, using it and turning a bad situation into a reasonable one.
Is the general lower rating of Slovenia affecting your company and daily business?
Short term - no! For long term business we need a stable situation and environment. If we (as a country) understand that the lower rating is a wake up call and act soon and fast, then it will have a positive effect on the country and also on us at Hella Saturnus. If we (as a country) do not act but argue, it will have a negative effect on the country and on us.
What do you expect from the Slovenian Government in the next few months, what are the neccessary steps to finally get out of the stagnation?
There are a lot of discussions going on between the government and the opposition, between the parties and the unions, between the unions and the economy, and, and, and. ... For me it is important to recognise that the enemy is not our neighbour but it is “the crisis”! Lets stick together and fight the enemy! Let us all fight the crisis. It will not be easy and we will all suffer, but it is possible and I am sure, doing so, we will win!
What are your biggest projects for future development?
Investing into new projects, new technology, new competencies, into new, even non-automotive, products and going each day for new improvements in using our full innovation power.
What´s your prediction about end of the crisis in Europe?
At each step the politicians are followed very closely and commented on by everybody, it is extremely difficult for them to make the right, maybe at first not very convenient, decisions. And instead of that, a lot of populism happens. Let us all give a fair chance to our politicians to decide for the right steps, for a bright future with short term negative effects. All medicine is bitter but very often important to swallow to regain health as soon as possible. From the politicians I am expecting they use that chance, tell the truth and make the right decisions. Then the crisis will be manageble in two to three years, if they dont do so then it is impossible to predict.
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