Family business by conviction

After 400 years under collective ownership, Achenbach became a 100% family owned and operated business when Engelhardt Achenbach acquired Eisenhammer in 1846. The company is now in the 7th and 8th generation of family ownership.

Supporting external relationships

Our passion for the fascinating world of rolling mill and foil slitting technology, our competitive drive in the world market and team spirit in our collaborations are external signs of the strong corporate culture at Achenbach. They are the soft facts behind our success and provide not only product advantages but also future security.

1. Value stability

Reliable values include dependability and punctuality, willingness to serve both internal and external customers, giving the company a human face, a passion for technical perfection, a willingness to learn, intrapreneurship instead of bureaucracy, team spirit instead of hierarchy and credibility in making promises. At Achenbach, values such as these are prized, nurtured and supported. They help build trust and ensure customer retention and recovery as well as employee retention.

2. Employee loyalty

With diverse range of duties and decision-making authority that requires and encourages employees to take on responsibility combined with a comfortable work environment, our staff members see the company as their “own”; many of them are even third- or fourth-generation Achenbach employees.

3. Flexibility of doing

Thanks to the small business culture of the company, operational decisions can be made quickly and unbureaucratically, allowing Achenbach to respond quickly to daily needs as they arise. High effectiveness and efficiency not only benefit customers, they also make working together fun.

Remaining strategically flexible means being willing to adapt to changing conditions over the longer term. The key is not only to generate new knowledge, but to reorganize existing material and non-material resources and to reconsider or reinterpret the company's core values from time to time. An open dialog between employees with many years of experience and younger staff with fresh ideas supports the important strategic learning process. After all, we can't preserve what's important to us without a willingness to change. The average age of the Achenbach employee is less than 40 – evidence of a good balance between experience and optimism.

Supporting internal relationships

Internally, the strength of our corporate culture is our commitment to deepening the sense of trust in the organization, one that promotes respect for other ways of thinking, fosters interest in differing points of view, promotes fairness toward colleagues who contribute ideas, provides the courage to share one's knowledge and creates a willingness to help in areas both big and small.

As in a family, the staff at Achenbach are not only valued as performers of essential functions, they are respected as people. This “culture of interaction” is evident in the many initiatives launched by the staff and in the popularity of employee events.

  • St. Nicholas celebration in the Ernst Barten hall: For almost 60 years, the employee council and the management have held a large St. Nicholas Day celebration for its young staff and their children on the second Saturday before Christmas.
  • Christmas party in the assembly hall: On the last workday of the year, the staff gathers among the preassembled systems in the production hall to ring in the holidays in a relaxed environment with light entertainment and delicious food.
  • Achenbach Journal: Once a year, the company publishes the Achenbach Journal, in which staff members share words and images from installation projects in faraway lands, introduce new projects and customers, report on the latest news from the departments, write poems about internal events or even explain Achenbach technology to non-technies.
  • Sports initiatives: As many other regional companies, Achenbach has been participating in the 'AOK Firmenlauf' in Siegen with a team of up to 85 runners every year since the beginning. The respective fitness is exercised throughout the year within the 'Achenbach Lauftreff', a weekly meeting of the team runners.
  • The 'AchenBäcker': The Achenbach commercial and industrial trainees have a unique team spirit, which is proved by some self-initiated and jointly performed charity campaigns such as cake and sausage sale or smaller repair works at the adjacent elementary school.

The concept of family business

Definition problem

The terms family business and small and medium enterprise (SME) are part of the lexicon of the private sector.

  • Small and medium enterprises are defined according to certain quantitative limits. For practical reasons, companies are classified into certain size categories mostly based on the number of employees or their sales revenue.
  • Family businesses, however, are characterized as such by their ownership and governance structures and not necessarily their size. In practice, however, these are mainly small and medium-sized businesses.

Family businesses in the narrower sense are characterized by being family-owned and operated. The owners of the company, i.e., those who own all or most of the shares or have control over the company, manage the company themselves or with outside help (per the definition of the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM)).

Family businesses in the broader sense include those companies whose ownership and management are divided but where control lies with a limited number of natural persons or families.

Economic importance

As a study by the IfM confirms, family businesses are quite common in Germany.

  • About 95% of German-based companies (3 million) operate as family businesses (in the narrower sense).
  • About 95% of German-based companies (3 million) operate as family businesses (in the narrower sense).
  • 57% of all jobs are with family businesses.

The concept of corporate culture

“Visible” standards (guiding principles for action) and “invisible” values (a feeling of what is desirable), which can only be conceptually separated, together define the culture of a company as a “collective programming of the mind”. This company-wide programming guides all actions and behavior in the business and manifests itself in a particular interpretation of the world (“sensemaking”) balanced against a willingness to help (“sensegiving”).

The culture of a company is characterized by its specific historical patterns of thought, beliefs, behavioral norms, structures, potential and resources as well as its internal and external relationships. This set of emotionally developed, behavior-defining values and the cognitive, action-guiding wealth of knowledge that characterizes a company together serve as selective filters for decisions and behavior.

 

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