Chair of Production Management

Zukunftsunternehmen Prize 2021 awarded to Eckes-Granini

Minister President Malu Dreyer: Digital transformation leads to sustainability

Companies from Rhineland-Palatinate that combine digitization and sustainability were invited by the Zukunftsinitiative Rheinland-Pfalz (ZIRP) to apply for the title 'Zukunftsunternehmen 2021'. This is the first time in Rhineland-Palatinate that ZIRP has honored a company that combines its digitization strategy with the values of sustainability and involves its employees along the way. Minister President Malu Dreyer, Deputy Chairwoman of ZIRP, presented the award to the winning company today in the ballroom of the State Chancellery.

The 'Zukunftsunternehmen 2021' is Eckes Granini Deutschland GmbH, based in Nieder-Olm. Minister President Malu Dreyer is particularly pleased to be able to honor a traditional family-owned company from Rhineland-Palatinate, which impressed the independent jury with its digitization strategy and with its focus on sustainability goals. "Digitization and sustainability - both goals will shape this century. The digital transformation is changing the way we do business and work. Combined with sustainability goals, companies can shape it with added value for society, employees and customers. In this way, companies are demonstrating responsibility far beyond their business interests," said Minister President Malu Dreyer, who was impressed. The digital transformation in business and work is a challenge that the state government is supporting strategically and with many measures. Similarly, the state government believes that the goal of climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest for Rhineland-Palatinate can only be achieved in partnership. "If we shape the digital transformation in harmony with appreciation for people and nature and with responsible business practices, we can make Rhineland-Palatinate a future-oriented and attractive business location. I am certain that we will succeed in this, as the substantial applications for the ZIRP Sustainability Award speak for themselves," said the Minister President.

The 'Zukunftsunternehmen 2021', Eckes-Granini Deutschland GmbH, was convincing in all the criteria for a digitally sustainable company that were decisive for the jury: Value System and Corporate Purpose; Strategy and Employee Engagement; and Digital Responsibility. In her laudatory speech, Minister President Malu Dreyer emphasized that the company has a clear focus on sustainability goals. She mentioned the use of data from warehouse and logistics processes for transport space sharing in cooperation with a retailer with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "This is a core idea of digital sustainability: using data to generate sustainable added value. Eckes-Granini Deutschland GmbH can thus demonstrate that both digital transformation and sustainability are being advanced in equal measure and are mutually reinforcing," praised Minister President Malu Dreyer.

"Receiving the Zukunftsunternehmen Award is a great honor for us," said Tim Berger, CEO of the Eckes-Granini Group. "At Eckes-Granini, we think of innovation, digitalization and sustainability as a triad in which none of the three building blocks can be dispensed with. From fruit cultivation to production and logistics, digital solutions make an enormous contribution to making processes and structures more sustainable. We are very pleased that our commitment to date has been honored and can promise: We still have a lot of plans."

The Minister President gave an honorable mention to Josef Seibel Schuhfabrik GmbH in Hauenstein, a 5th generation family business. "Josef Seibel Schuhfabrik GmbH has launched an impressive transformation, especially in the last two years. This includes e-commerce and data usage for business and private customers, the renovation and expansion of the former Transparent Shoe Factory into a new visitor and experience center, the use of green electricity at the production site in Rhineland-Palatinate and a shoe configurator for personalizing individual shoes. Finally, a brand relaunch that expresses the digital strategy and the focus on sustainability," said Professor Dr. Arnd Huchzermeier, member of the jury and Chair of Production Management at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, explaining the honorable mention.

 "We are very pleased that our brand relaunch, with all its innovations, is perceived and appreciated to this extent," commented Franziska Seibel from the three-member management team on the honorable mention. "We opted for revolution instead of evolution - and are being rewarded. Despite strong competition, especially in the areas of digitalization and sustainability, we are convinced that we have taken the right path for us."

The importance of sustainability in production was also emphasized by Professor Dr. Martin Ruskowski, CEO of the SmartfactoryKL technology initiative, in his keynote speech: "Sustainability, resource conservation and circular economy are the challenges for production in the future. Our Production Level 4 vision aims at a paradigm shift. We develop technical tools that are geared to people's needs. For us, people are the sovereign. Humans must be able to decide at any time what needs to be changed. Currently, the focus is on saving the planet as an orientation. What else?"

For the fifth time, the Zukunftsinitiative Rheinland-Pfalz (ZIRP) e.V. is awarding the "Zukunftsunternehmen" prize, this year for the first time for digitally sustainable entrepreneurship in Rhineland-Palatinate. Companies of any size and from any sector with their headquarters or branch office in Rhineland-Palatinate that have developed remarkable strategies or projects in relation to one or more of the categories defined in the call for entries and that can serve as inspiration for other companies in the sense of good practice were eligible to apply.

The 'Zukunftsunternehmen' prize is ZIRP's sustainability prize and has been awarded since 2015. An independent jury selected the winner from 17 applications submitted by companies and research institutions from all over Rhineland-Palatinate. The prize is unique and consists of a sculpture specially designed by the Institute for Artistic Ceramics and Glass (IKKG) at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences.

More about the 'Zukunftsunternehmen 2021' prize at www.zirp.de