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Wolfgang Grupp on success at Trigema: “With me you understand every sentence”

Trigema boss Wolfgang Grupp.

Christoph Schmidt, picture alliance via Getty Images

The long-time Trigema boss Wolfgang Grupp has never attracted attention when it comes to assessing the situation in the country and criticizing the achievements of his colleagues and competitors. He recently attributed “unrestrained megalomania” to the Daimler board members. Previously, the 78-year-old company boss had expressed himself extremely critical of new work concepts such as free time management and the Duzen in the company.

But Grupp also had to put up with it, earning criticism for the respiratory masks, the production of which he switched his company to in the Corona spring – they were overpriced and ineffective, it said.

In an interview with “Wirtschaftswoche”, Grupp, who is far from thinking about retirement, spoke about his drive, his recipe for success and problems in the past.

“I can drive a car even on black ice”

At the beginning of his career as company boss, Grupp was thrown into the deep end. He had to quit his academic career and give up his doctorate in order to save the then highly indebted family business from ruin. To the “Wirtschaftswoche” he said that he had approached this problem as he has done every business task since then: “with common sense”. For this reason he has no fears, after all he can “drive a car even on black ice”. “I drive carefully, said Grupp. “Forwards bit by bit.”

It was five years before he paid everything back.

Grupp never regretted dropping out of his doctorate. Because one thing he learned in those early years at the company was “how little academic performance says anything about a person’s abilities.” And that “greed and megalomania do not get you anywhere.”

“I was never top of the class”

Even when he was at school, Grupp was a doer who trusted his talent more than cramming for exams non-stop. In relation to “Wirtschaftswoche”, Grupp said: “Nobody understands highly intelligent people – with me you can understand every sentence. Whether someone is a good entrepreneur depends on whether they have it in their blood, i.e. whether they are talented. Not from the notes. ”It’s like a cook who has to be able to taste whether a soup is too salty. “If he doesn’t feel that, he’s out of place.”

This also applies to entrepreneurs. Grupp has internalized his company through and through: “I can walk through my company and know how each individual machine works,” says the company boss. This also ensures the necessary flexibility when it comes to making quick decisions. From the previous 26 textile companies, only one remained in Burladingen: Trigema. However, he does not have a real recipe for success. He’s just trying to run his company sensibly.

Since the market had changed and major customers like Kartstadt, Quelle and Neckermann had collapsed, Grupp had to lead his company innovatively. This happened in the Corona spring, for example, when Trigema began producing face masks on a large scale. So far, 2.3 million pieces have been produced, which also means that annual sales are already at the previous year’s level – “100 million”. In addition, he did not have to fire a single employee.

And they have great opportunities in the company.

All of Trigema’s managers were once apprentices

“With us, all managers are former apprentices,” says Grupp, who “had previously proven their strengths in other positions” and thus climbed the career ladder step by step – “automatically through good performance”.

Grupp himself has long since reached the final stage, but still does not want to retire. “Wirtschaftswoche” wants to know how long he wants to stay in the executive chair: “Until my end is set… as long as people come to me and ask for my advice, as long as I stay… that’s the best feeling in life, needed to become.”

He wants to pass this feeling on to his children, to whom he will leave the company at some point. “My children know how I run the company. That’s how they’ll do it. “

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