Berner family business: Young successor on crash course?

Christian Berner

Imagine yourself: A 31-year-old successor moves the headquarters of a long-established company in Baden-Württemberg to Cologne. He cuts most of the sales staff’s commissions, shuts down ten subsidiaries and leaves hardly any other stone on top of it. A consulting-resistant egomaniac who drives his father’s life’s work against the wall? No, the decisions of Christian Berner, CEO of the screw and chemical distributor Berner SE (1 billion turnover, 8,500 employees), have proved to be absolutely right. In Cologne he found qualified specialists who would not have come to Künzelsau.

Digitisation: “We have what Amazon will never have”

And the reduction in commissions – compensated by higher fixed salaries – has turned sellers into consultants. Berner told the Handelsblatt that this had reduced the fluctuation of the Würth competitor by 40 percent. He also says that clients appreciate the new consulting-oriented approach. Berner has what Amazon will never have – “a real customer relationship”. By the way, one could have guessed that the meanwhile 34-year-old son of the founder Albert Berner does not take a harakiri course. It is supervised by a five-member Supervisory Board, which also includes experienced and independent experts: The head of the committee is the long-standing Hella board member Carsten Albrecht.