Henrik Oevermann, CEO of DIOSNA Dierks & Söhne GmbH, a worldwide manufacturer of pre-dough systems, kneading machines and granulating plants, tells us what he has learned from the past year and provides us with an outlook for 2021.
If you were to use just three words to describe what 2020 has been like for your company, which ones would you choose?
Novel, challenging, and unrepeatable.
Can you explain that in more detail?
The situation wasn’t like anything we have ever seen before—and it certainly wasn’t something anyone could have predicted at the time. It was a real challenge, because a lot of carefully considered and far-reaching decisions needed to be taken. In the process, it wasn’t just about thinking about the wellbeing of our customers and of our company, but we also needed to consider health-related aspects that went beyond the scope of our already existing health management plans. By “unrepeatable” I mean that the pandemic has forced us to rethink our processes. When I was asked in an interview in March 2020 whether our ability to deliver was at risk, I was able to offer a clear “no” in response. Thanks to our excellent internal structures and our strong network, this assessment has proved to be correct. We have noticed very clearly where our strengths lie, how important our internal and external communications are in order for us to act and respond quickly, and what steps are required so that we can remain competitive with our committed team in the future as well. This includes comprehensive risk management, which enables us to react immediately to unforeseen developments.
How has DIOSNA managed to avoid sales losses despite the major challenges of the past year?
A number of factors have contributed to this. On the one hand, the situation was very solid in terms of our order books, but we have also seen a shift within our customer groups. The collapse of sales in the trade and in the semi-industrial sector was almost fully offset by increased demand from industry. We have always worked very closely with our partners to ensure that we can rely on a secure supply chain, and this has made it possible for us to fulfill all our orders.
In addition, Germany as our local production location offers many advantages, particularly during the time of COVID-19. And we have also seen confirmation that it was the right decision to rigorously adhere to our high quality inhouse manufacturing standard in everything we do. This is implemented by our motivated employees in all areas, and thanks to their independent and prudent behavior we have been able to master this critical situation. I am proud of my entire team and am really grateful for their efforts and commitment.
Which factors have influenced your decisions, and which measures will continue to be important in 2021?
For me it was really important to act calmly, with a focus on our customers and on job security. My clear goal was to avoid reducing the working hours of our employees, so that we could thank them in this way for their service. Even in this exceptional situation, DIOSNA has been able to demonstrate that we are a responsible and reliable employer. In addition, we are also working on digital solutions that will enable us to offer customers tangible added value, for example with our virtual technical center of our granulation division.
How have the current travel restrictions impacted on your sales planning, and what do you need to take into account?
Our customers have also adapted their procedures and ordering processes to the new lockdown environment. The decentralized structures we have already built up in recent years are a real help here, and they will enable us to continue to meet our obligations to our customers in 2021.
Particularly in turbulent times, the value of cooperation based on partnership, with high quality standards and short distances, really comes to the fore.
What is the short and medium-term HR policy at DIOSNA?
At the moment it is still all about safeguarding jobs, which we managed to do very successfully already last year. The current order situation is so promising that I expect to see growth in the medium term. For this reason, we are planning to strengthen our team and are looking for motivated employees for our sites in Osnabrück and Isernhagen.