Before we begin talking about the projects carried out by kfu within your company, I’d first like to ask which demands you make of a consulting company.

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: For me it’s very important that a consultant opens up to our needs. He should identify our weakness and help us to help ourselves. I not only expect competent advice from the consultant but also that he accompany us in the implementation of that advice, wherever possible with practical examples. As I see it, the feeling that you’re being well looked after is also very important. A consultant shouldn’t only provide me with this feeling, but should also take care to ensure my staff has this feeling too. A consultant should also be in a position to broaden our personal horizons.

Did you have offers from other consultants before making your decision for kfu? What were your reasons for choosing kfu?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: No, there were no other offers. I followed a recommendation from Mr Krottenthaler. Before he came to Feycolor, Mr Krottenthaler worked for BASF Coatings. He was very positive about the consultancy services provided there by kfu. I contacted kfu as I also intended having staff developed in distribution. Instead of a staff-seminar programme, a strategy then came into being.


As early as the first conversation with kfu, we recognised that staff development would be a sensible project, though not in a period through which the company was going through such quick upheaval. The first priority was to complete our strategic homework.

To what extent was the company going through a period of upheaval?

For strategic reasons, in the previous year we separated from almost 30% of the turnover. Affected were business fields which we’d kept for reasons of tradition, though were no longer consistent with our other activities. Now, the next step means focusing more intensively on expanding some fields of business and reducing others.

Is this already the result of kfu advice?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: No, slimming down our focus was always on the cards. In November 2006, as the work with kfu began, we stood at a junction, as it were and had not yet taken the wrong path. Mistakes, which we certainly would have made, were avoided thanks to kfu. Thanks to kfu, we’ve completely rethought our strategic planning and chosen a completely different starting point. We no longer take the product as the root of consideration but the market. I’d like to quote Mr Friedmann here:

“We shouldn’t have one bait and ask ourselves which fish are likely to be attracted, rather we should provide the bait which the fish likes to eat.”

I have asked about your personal expectations of a consulting company. Have these expectations been fulfilled in respect of the competence shown?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: Yes, and I remain fully behind my decision for kfu. The chemistry was right from the very start; from the very first conversation with Mr Friedmann it was clear that I wasn’t talking to someone only versed in theory, but to someone who speaks from a practitioner’s perspective.

I informed the company head of the strategy devised together with kfu by means of a presentation. The presentation was received very well by the company, primarily on account of the new approach starting from the market and market attractiveness. We are a very technically orientated organisation and this “fish needing the right bait” motto was for us exactly the right phrase.

We are now in the middle of the implementation phase with respect to this strategy, though trail a little behind in terms of time. This, however, all has good reason: one of our strategic business fields currently offers us a unique chance which we cannot miss. Admittedly we’ve fallen a little behind on the implementation of our new strategy, though we are increasing turnover much quicker than planned, and this despite us not accepting certain customer requests but rather – pursuant to the strategy worked out with kfu– refusing them.

How did the business field analyses and strategies go? How did the project proceed?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: The team was made up of 10 to 12 persons, mainly from distribution teams from the company’s coatings operations. We went into the first meeting with kfu basically unprepared and determined the site of the markets by estimating their size. I’d like here once again to quote Mr Friedmann: “Better roughly right than detailed and wrong.” In a quiet moment, I took the time to properly work out the size of the market. Our estimations were right 90 percent of the time! This is considerable and makes clear just how well our distribution specialists know the market.

The approach of kfu consultants was predictably simple: We began by considering the markets in which we’re active, what position and what opportunities for development there is for us in these markets and what the competition is like. The results were entered into a matrix “Market attractiveness – own position”. This matrix functioned as the evaluation criterion against which we defined the markets in which we want to grow in future.

It’s a simple technique which for me as managing director has a positive side-effect: The results are simple and can be conveyed plausibly. The goals defined with the help of kfu documentation could be communicated to the entire team without a problem.

And good communications have a positive effect on mood within the company. Together with kfu, we set ourselves the summit of the Himalayas as goal, but before reaching this point, there are several stops along the way which first have to be achieved. That motivates people! Thanks to plausible kfu documentation, even the waverers can be convinced and filled with enthusiasm.

Could you see positive effects subsequent to the market cultivation?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: Together with the kfu, we came up with such a positive growth prognosis that we questioned this on several occasions. At the beginning we asked ourselves whether we should better adjust the prognosis downward – after all, the company is measured against such predictions. We then decided to communicate the prognosis we came up with! And at the moment, it looks as if we won’t have to worry about generating the turnover predicted. As a result of the positive development in respect of turnover, we rather have to concern ourselves with things such as whether we can increase staff accordingly and whether new machines will be delivered on time.

With respect to all the opportunities we see, we ask ourselves the question whether they fit into our newly defined strategy. The answer we give ourselves is more often than not in the negative. We take care to be consistent here and then refuse the additional burden, even where our success should later cease as a result. For that, success is more intensive. In the past, we made strategic business decisions on gut feeling alone. It makes a difference though, whether I do something right as a matter of gut feeling or – thank to kfu– I have figures and reports as a basis. These “documented considerations” are worth a lot when you’re moving down new roads and when decisions have to be taken.

I expect that in around 3 years we’ll be able to say that with the strategy developed together with kfu, we have been able to set a milestone in our company history.

How do you perceive the time and cost of your company in such projects? Is it justified?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: Yes it is. Up until now we’ve invested 11 days with up to 12 staff. This is not something you do if you don’t expect anything back!

The sum invested in total is actually above the amount which I may actually spend, but Mr Friedmann presented kfu’s approach to my boss Mr Lozser so convincingly that I was given the go ahead with kfu.

Like many medium-sized companies, we too are short of resources in terms of staff for the implementation of the strategy in accordance with the time plan set. As a result of the market situation, we hardly have time to catch our breath. But as I always say: better slowly and well than quickly but badly.

Are there further projects with the kfu?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: Yes, in the field of “company-wide strategic purchasing” there’s room for improvement. kfu has already been awarded the mandate for this project by my boss, Mr Lozser.

My personal experience has shown that one is very much involved in operative daily business. I would like that kfu continue to accompany us with our strategy. Given the special dynamic of our market, I could imagine two strategy meetings per year. An excellent consultant such as Mr Friedmann provides a company with special impulses. Consultants for me are also bridge builders and agents between the fronts. Where certain topics are assessed by someone external to the company, better results are achieved.

Because of the group to which the company belongs, we’ll always work with several consultancy companies. Currently we’re focused on the project “team building in personnel”. We made a conscious decision not to use kfu here and have awarded the project to a consultant acceptable to the women at both company locations. In this case the woman to woman working relationship is better than a man- woman working relationship would have been.

What, in your view, are the particular strengths of the kfu consultants?

Rolf J. Dürschmidt: Mr Friedmann’s particular strength I see in the field of market strategy. His competence wasn’t only appreciated by me but also by my colleagues.

The chemistry between Mr Friedmann and myself was right from the very beginning. I’d like to mention here the numerous topical discussions which developed on the fringe of project work, for instance at an evening meal after a long meeting. One talks about everything, expands one’s horizon, as it were, through thought provoking discussion, and one or other good idea also comes from it.

I see the kfu as a signpost at the roadside. I have a goal, a vision and kfu shows me the way to get there. kfu is the motivational drive, not only for me, but also for my managers and the entire team.

I enjoy my job very much and kfu has helped to make it even more enjoyable.

Thank you very much for taking part in this interview.