Leading in the European market with Danish leadership style and German motivation
“You’ve got the wrong person, actually”, is the first reaction from Lars Christiansen, Managing Director and namesake to the Ilsenburg company Christiansen Print, when he received the request for an interview with a foreign investor in Saxony-Anhalt. After eight years in Germany, the Dane feels at home and considers himself a representative of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. “We were supported unbureaucratically by both the municipality and the state of Saxony-Anhalt in our project – I’d like to give a little bit back”, said Christiansen, highlighting his involvement in the region.
Lars Christiansen founded Christiansen Print in 2005 in Ilsenburg and quickly established the company as a European market leader for high-quality printed corrugated board in the pre-printing sector. The bright printed images on the packaging of renowned brands such as Nestlé or Rotkäppchen are created in this state-of-the-art plant. As a sole supplier internationally, Christiansen Print has two of the largest and most up-to-date structurally identical central cylinder flexographic printing presses in the world. An innovative GPS system ensures low waste and short setup times so that even short-term campaigns can be implemented extremely quickly. Christiansen Print thus ensures security in terms of delivery reliability, technical stability and cost efficiency. However, for Lars Christiansen it is not the technology, but the team that is his priority. His staff of around 70 employees has mostly been around since the start of the company; the rate of staff turnover is low. Specialists, particularly in printing, are rare. The especially quiet atmosphere on the premises of Christiansen Print is down to the Scandinavian style of leadership.
In Denmark, the boss is always part of the team. Employees are also allowed to have and express different opinions. “We are an island here in the region with our company philosophy”, noted Christiansen, explaining the cultural differences. In Saxony-Anhalt, he came across highly committed employees from the very beginning. Through targeted training sessions, particularly in foreign languages, they are supported and thus become a key component in the success of the company. All team members are equally integrated into customer deadlines. The printers themselves explain their activity at the machines. All are to feel equally responsible for the entire product and so transmit the positive mood of the company.
The fact that people are always the priority is also shown in the social commitment of Christiansen Print. Instead of sending company gifts, facilities for children are funded to give them better starting opportunities. In his involvement on site, Christiansen mainly keeps his ears open when among his employees and their families to find out their needs for nurseries and schools. A matter close to his heart is the greater integration of foreign languages which is already part of daily life for children in Denmark even from a young age due to the films being in their original language.
The site in Ilsenburg in western Saxony-Anhalt was chosen rather randomly. After Christiansen already had made business links in the region and his partner from Goslar felt at home in Ilsenburg, this choice of site seemed obvious. In two construction phases (2004 and 2010), around 25 million euros were invested in the plant in Ilsenburg. Today, settling at the edge of the Harz has proven to be an absolute advantage due to the central location at the heart of Europe. Christiansen is sure that “our company would not have had such success at a site outside Germany.” He views the basic attitude of German employees and their high level of motivation as an enormous advantage. Thus Germany is much more interesting to him as a production location than abroad.
Due to the good experiences and the easy cooperation with the community of Ilsenburg and the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Christiansen has ventured another project. Already in 2007, the purely Danish company Innowo Print – the European leader in direct printing on nonwovens emerged from Christiansen Print. With a wink, Christiansen responds to the question about the future by referring to his option right for other commercial spaces. The motto of the state: “We get up earlier” applies to him figuratively: getting up earlier to identify progress and changes in the market and to implement visionary ideas. The 49-year-old father of four children, who has made Ilsenburg the centre of his life, still has a few plans in Saxony-Anhalt – that much is certain.
Author: Miriam Fuchs
Christiansen Print GmbH
ph: +49 39452 4840-0
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