First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oliver Sonntag: I am very happy not to have had to face any COVID-19 disease in my family and in my closer friendship so that we can feel happy to be healthy. Of course, life has changed in the pandemic. Social contacts have decreased. On the other hand, I have reduced business trips, which means that I can spend more time with my family, i.e., with my wife and my children.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Nano Care Deutschland AG.
Oliver Sonntag: Directly after having passed final secondary school examinations, I joined my father’s company, Nano Care Deutschland AG. Besides working in the company, I studied and successfully passed my Master of Science in Business Administration. Of course, a dual study besides full employment takes much more time, but retrospectively I think that the business experience which I was able to gain directly after school examination is worth its weight in gold. 2010 I was able to join the Board of Directors. Since 2017 I have been working as sole General Manager.
How does Nano Care Deutschland AG innovate?
Oliver Sonntag: Nano Care Deutschland AG produces invisible coatings of which only the effect is visible; e.g., three years ago, we launched an invisible antimicrobial coating which is strongly asked for in times of COVID-19 pandemic.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Oliver Sonntag: The Corona pandemic led to a demand shock in our company. We receive inquiries from all over the world for working as a distribution partner of our antimicrobial coating Liquid Guard. We experienced bottlenecks both in the production and in sales, as we were primarily not able to cope with this increase in inquiries. Within a few weeks, we were able to adjust to this situation by extending our production capacities. Consequently, we were able to reduce delays in dispatch for our products to a minimum.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Oliver Sonntag: Did you make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned? Yes, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cope with an increase in demands and make difficult decisions with regard to delivery chains. It was also imperative to protect my employees from being infected and keep up the production in times of the first and second wave. E.g., we tried to split up as many jobs as possible into two teams. This way, we would have had the opportunity to exchange one complete team against another one if an infection had come up in one team, thus guaranteeing business to be kept up. Luckily this case never happened. This kind of protection allowed us to avoid any more huge damage. This situation showed me that many jobs could well be done from the home office side. I am very proud of my employees taking that much effort to solve the problems as quickly as possible, which came up in the pandemic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Oliver Sonntag: For 1 ½ year, I am dealing with the lessons of Buddhism. In this context, it is not the religion that is most important to me, but the mental part. What I have learned from this religion helps me in every situation in life and with every emotion, not only in connection with stress and anxiety. I hope that the persons I live and work with will also take advantage of what I learned.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Oliver Sonntag: One of our competitors recently applied for insolvency. His product portfolio seems not to have been as diversified as ours, e.g., we could compensate for all our decreases in sales volume through our antimicrobial product, as this year will end up as the most successful business year in our company’s history. Of course, this will go on during the pandemic. Nevertheless, we start already at this very moment to do researches on products that will be asked for after the pandemic. Here we focus on environmentally friendly products.
Your final thoughts?
Oliver Sonntag: I realize that pandemic splits many people with regard to their opinion. In the future, I would like to see a decrease in these differences and hope that this situation will teach us to show more comprehension and respect for other people’s opinion. I think this way we will succeed in overcoming this crisis very well.
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