Profound knowledge of the subject: After studying chemistry and subsequently earning a doctorate in physical chemistry, Dr. Dieter Gutwerk has spent his entire professional career working almost exclusively on the (further) development of laboratory equipment. Thus, he already successfully steered the fortunes at Berghof Products + Instruments from 1996 to 2017.
Since May 2021, he has been back at his former place of work and has been leading the company into the future as the new CEO since the beginning of 2022.
1. Dr. Gutwerk, you have been part of the management team at Berghof Products + Instruments again since May 2021 and have been responsible as CEO since the beginning of 2022. What was your first period like?
At first, I was naturally very curious to see how the team would react to my return. My positive expectations have been more than fulfilled: Returning to the team felt like coming home, everyone welcomed me with open arms. However, I also immediately sensed the high expectations to set a clear course and direction. That's why I didn't allow myself a long familiarization period, although it was of course a great advantage that I already knew the products, markets and sales partners well. It was therefore not difficult for me to make upcoming decisions quickly and to set priorities accordingly. This again significantly increased motivation in the team.
2. What is your impression of Berghof Products + Instruments as a returnee?
Even though I knew the company, the products and the markets very well from the past, many faces were new to me. All the new employees are a real enrichment to the team. They bring in further valuable knowledge, skills and ideas, so that together we are a very powerful and motivated team. This has always been and will continue to be the backbone of Berghof Products + Instruments and makes me extremely optimistic for the future.
3. In which direction do you want to further develop Berghof Products + Instruments?
We want to grow even more strongly than before by focusing even more consistently on our unique selling points. And we have a few of those: Our speedwave microwave digestion systems stand out from the competition due to the durability of the vessels. While all competitors regard these as wear parts, ours last at least 5 years. That's why we are the only supplier on the market to offer a warranty on them. Our customers benefit from this sustainable solution in the truest sense of the word through the lowest operating costs. The safety concept and process control are also unique on the market. The quick-acting closure systems of the reactors are the decisive advantage of our highpreactor high-pressure reactors. Time-consuming closing with 8, 10 or more bolts is a thing of the past. This makes working with high-pressure reactors much easier. In addition, our unique PTFE lining of the reactors and their modular design enable customer-specific solutions, which are often enough considerably less expensive than reactors made of expensive special alloys, especially with corrosive media. Last, but not least, we have a number of innovations that are close to market maturity and with which we will continue to set ourselves apart from the market in the future. You can look forward to that!
4. Speaking of further development: Your return to Berghof Products + Instruments in the middle of the Corona pandemic has presented you and your team with some very special challenges. How did you master them?
As a matter of principle, I don't dwell for long on things that I can't directly change or influence myself. Instead, I immediately try to develop an adapted strategy for the future. The Corona pandemic can certainly not be directly influenced either by me personally or by Berghof Products + Instruments. From my point of view, the most important challenge is to protect the team as best as possible against infections. We have managed this very well through home offices, separation of the individual areas and other protective measures. In this context, I am grateful and proud that all employees of Berghof Products + Instruments are fully vaccinated or have recovered. We are countering the current difficulties in the procurement market by seconding an experienced employee to the technical purchasing department on a short-term basis. His task is to find alternative suppliers, materials, etc., in order to avoid material shortages as much as possible. The result is impressive: We have hardly experienced any delivery delays. At the same time, we have transformed our sales organization into a powerful remote organization by investing in modern IT technology. This has enabled us to continue to grow despite the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic.
5. What is very important to you in your job and in your day-to-day work?
Trusting, open and honest dealings with each other. Everyone makes mistakes, including me. It is important to admit mistakes and learn from them. This is the basis for good cooperation and continuous learning and improvement.
6. Is there something you do particularly well to switch off, or what do you do to give yourself time off?
My sons are already studying and starting to live their own lives. So I enjoy it all the more when the family gets together for meals or celebrations. On the other hand, this gives my wife and me new freedom, which we fill with cultural events and sporting activities such as cross-country skiing, hiking or cycling - provided Corona allows it. With friends, of course, this is even more fun, and every Monday evening I meet up with my old handball buddies to play soccer.