On March 8, more than 70 managers from small- and medium-sized companies located in the Koblenz region gathered at a lecture hall at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar to discuss possible strategies for handling crisis. With rising energy costs, disrupted supply chains, a lack of skilled personnel, and rapidly shifting customer and employee demands today, such companies are facing some serious challenges. To maintain growth in this particularly difficult market landscape, now is the time for course correction and thorough strategic decisions.
“The defining characteristic of our event is the variety of topics,” said Professor Christina Günther of the IHK-Chair for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises during her opening speech. “Because there is a variety of challenges we’re having to face today—and that means we need various strategies.” And indeed, that same variety was reflected in the many different perspectives the business experts took as they gave their insights and presented their approaches to overcoming crisis. Thomas Paul of Böker & Paul, based on his firsthand experience as a consultant, recommended a number of actions, including reducing dependence, promptly negotiating prices, and putting financing options to the test. Dr. Ralf Kölbach from the Westerwaldbank advocated increased robustness on the supply side, easing the immigration of qualified workers, and the adoption of more sustainable business models. Stephen Schmidt spoke of his own experiences managing crisis, as his own family business, which today stands as a global leader in special clays, had to face some temporary difficulties in the past. He overcame these challenges by securing the company’s liquidity and profits through sustainable investments. Bastian Bösch, during the following panel discussion, shared how achieving ESG-related goals could help succeeding in times of crisis. Guest Norbert Weichele and consultant Reinhard Vanhöfen of the Vancore Group discussed how grueling it can be to find a balance between daily business and necessary strategic development.