Between Motorcycles and Defence Technology

Newspaper article in the General-Anzeiger about the first year of the steep GmbH

One year after the management buy-out by Matthias Möseler: The steep GmbH in Bonn is expanding its business abroad

BONN. The clientele spans from the German Armed Forces via BMW to Harley-Davidson: One year ago, Matthias Möseler bought the Bonn-based service company Serco GmbH from the British parent company and renamed it steep GmbH.

He already functioned as CEO in the company beforehand. Up to now, he has no regrets about taking the leap to independence – even if the first year as entrepreneur was more wearing than anticipated: “I didn’t expect the effort of getting a grip on the company to be this large”, says Möseler, who has also been the chairman of the Bonner SC since January. Leaving the parent company comes with new possibilities as well as risks. Conversations with banks and some customers are initially held on an entirely different level once a company becomes independent from a group. But, all in all, everything worked out well.

“It was a very successful business year”, says Möseler. After the management buy-out, there were some cleaning-up operations that were predominantly concerned with the organisational separation from Serco. ”Afterwards, we quickly concentrated on starting up business in regions that were denied to us in the past.” Prior to the buy-out, other divisions of the parent company were often in charge of certain commercial activities. Now, steep is active in Dubai, the US and Eastern Europe. “The BMW dealer training in Eastern Europe is conducted by us”, Möseler says. A trainer drives from workshop to workshop and holds technical training for the employees. His company does this for Hungary, the Czech Republic and now also for Greece. ”BMW also wants us in Russia”, the 43-year-old says. But, considering the size of the country, more detailed talks will have to be held about the topic first. The advantage of self-dependence is: “Now, we are in the position to take on inquiries of this kind without anyone in the group standing in our way.” The business abroad, that used to amount to six to eight per cent of the turnover, now accounts for 15 per cent. Möseler reckons that the annual turnover of about € 110 million will remain stable this year. The number of employees is just under 700.

The Harley-Davidson-University in Dransdorf, which is located on the steep-site, is also part of the business area Training. Employees from the authorized Harley-Davidson repair shops come here for technical training. Traditionally, the company in Dransdorf that was founded as Elekluft in 1961 is strongly engaged in business with the German Armed Forces. The innovations that steep has now developed for the information and communication technology of the German Forces, now also appear to be interesting for the US Army, Möseler explains. This especially applies to the Mobile Unified Platform (MUP), a rugged and mobile communication system. It consists of rucksacks that weigh about 15 kg containing the technology with which soldiers can communicate with each other in the field. The first 130 MUP will be delivered to the German Army this year. Furthermore, the MUP will also be presented on a large trade show for defence technology in the US. He has established contact with the US telecommunications group Cisco Systems that is willing to include the steep products in their product partner price list.

steep also parted with projects in its first year: This especially applies to service contracts in facility management such as lawn care and janitorial services. In these areas, the company does not match up to the competition due to its cost structure. steep focuses on complex service contracts, as for instance the partly privatised prison in Hünfeld in eastern Hesse. The assignment that also includes catering, workshops for prisoners as well as socio-psychological and medical services was renewed earlier this year, including an option for three additional years.

Möseler says that he is not the kind of boss that spends a lot of time at his desk: “I am happy to be outside.” There are loads of exciting projects, company locations and customer calls. He arrives at the office at 7 a.m. every morning and works on things “that need to be done with the necessary peace and time”. Afterwards, he goes outside. “In spite of this, I am of course well aware of everything that is going on in the company”. Introducing further investors into the company is not part of his plans: “We are not in a hurry to have the freedom to decide for ourselves taken away from us again”.

 

(This text is a translation of the article by Claudia Mahnke that was published in the General-Anzeiger Bonn on July 24, 2013. For the original German article, please go to www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de/)

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