2021 was a very special year for us – as we celebrated our anniversary and reflected joyously on 150 years of company history. These have been eventful years, in which we developed from a traditional jewellery box manufacturer to an international provider of packaging for the luxury & lifestyle sector. Today, we market our innovative products across the globe from our base in Lahr in the Black Forest. Our history is characterised not only by major successes, but also challenges that were just as great. Both of these made us who we are today, and we reflect on this with a sense of pride and gratitude. A lot has changed in 150 years, yet one thing still remains the same: Dahlinger always focuses on the customer and their highly individual product. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to offer everyone that has accompanied us on our journey our sincere thanks for their trusting and successful cooperation.
An interview with Bernd Dahlinger
Our managing director about 150 years of family business
What does the 150th anniversary of our company mean to you personally?
My strongest feeling on the occasion of our anniversary is gratitude. Gratitude to our customers, suppliers and other service providers, who have helped our company thrive over five generations and taken us to the point where we can celebrate this fantastic anniversary. Alongside this, I also feel a certain sense of pride that five generations of Dahlingers have succeeded, sometimes in challenging and adverse circumstances, to navigate the company to where it is today. These challenges include the First World War, the global economic crisis, the Second World War, the financial market crisis, yet also the complete realignment of the company in the context of shutting down production at the Lahr location and entering into new business areas.
What is the most important piece of advice you have ever received in your life and who gave it to you?
Success is 80% excellent preparation. I first heard this sentence several years ago while chatting with a management consultant, who accompanied the transformation of our company on the advisory board between 2002 and 2009. It still applies to this day…
You are known as a family man, so do you consider the Dahlinger family to be an extension of your own family?
I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful family with four children. The Dahlinger family is clearly far bigger, yet I really enjoy trying to apply the rules of interaction within my own family to the Dahlinger family and vice versa.
What form does this take?
Although this approach obviously does not always make sense or work everywhere, there are certain situations which are encountered in both families. These include friction, the joy of joint achievements, overcoming negative experiences, as well as controversial discussions and occasionally disputes. When it comes to the latter, management and resolution clearly require well-honed soft skills.
What are the most important values that have shaped Dahlinger over the last 150 years?
How important is the German market for Dahlinger today – and how important is it likely to be in future? Which foreign markets do you consider to be particularly important and attractive?
The German market is currently the most important market for us. We enjoy an excellent market position here. This market will also remain highly important in future in absolute terms, but we actually have greater potential overseas. We are already exporting almost 80% of our products overseas as things stand today.
There is currently quite a lot going on at Dahlinger in terms of sustainability, particularly in the ecological dimension. Can you tell us why this topic is so important to you?
The topic of sustainability has grown significantly in importance over the last few years. For us, sustainability is already a key topic that we have been addressing intensively for many years. Based on our desire to make our own contribution to saving resources, we have introduced numerous measures and are currently focusing on implementing further measures to help us get where we wish to be. This not only affects our product portfolio, but also our entire supply chain and our locations. More and more business partners are adopting a similar way of thinking. Indeed, we receive a whole host of suggestions and requests from all sides as to how we can all move closer to this objective when cooperating with our partners on our joint projects.
Let us take a glimpse into the future. What needs to happen to ensure that the company can continue to thrive for another 150 or more years?
This is a very interesting question, which I will try to answer as simply as possible. If subsequent generations of both management and the workforce succeed in maintaining a business strategy that combines proven values, gives up on fields with no future, continuously seeks to rejuvenate itself and enter potential future markets, while at the same time staying passionate, committed and respectful with one another, this is most definitely achievable.
What are you own personal highlights from the last few years?
The successful transformation of our company in the period following closure of production operations in 2002 and our development into an important provider of jewellery boxes, displays and decorations for the markets of the luxury and lifestyle sector.
Will Dahlinger also remain a family-run business in future generations?
As an optimist, I would most certainly say yes. However, this will require each generation to establish management that secures the requisite experience, skills and values that I already mentioned when answering one of your earlier questions. This is clearly no easy task, but one which I hope will be successful.