Last updateThu, 24 Sep 2020 6am

More investment in digital solutions instead of heavy iron

Generation change at the printing specialist Elanders GmbH

The megatrends have long since arrived in the printing industry, marking changes and re-shaping everyday working life. Under the influence of the major drivers, companies are facing the fundamental challenges. Elanders GmbH also devotes itself intensively to the topics of the future. And is taking the next important step with the generational change in the management: Sven Burkhard and Christopher Sommer took over the management together on 1 January 2020. The previous managing director Peter Sommer will continue to be available to the company as a consultant.

From digitalization to e-commerce: many business areas are increasingly shifting to the screen. Customers are increasingly digital, they want individually tailored shop systems. "We are now facing what is probably the biggest challenge - the question of what will be printed in the future," says Sven Burkhard. Which area of the print business will dominate and continue to grow? How will the digital mindset develop? How important is online marketing increasingly? And which product fields will soon no longer exist? Elanders GmbH, headquartered in Waiblingen near Stuttgart, has always not only accepted the changes in the printing industry, but has constructively helped shape them. As a company at the forefront of the industry, the company therefore not only wants to find the right answers but also generate a whole range of complementary customer benefits. Burkhard: "A new generation of customers has grown up - so it is also time for a new generation in the Elanders management.

Visible successes achieved

The 34-year-old Burkhard not only brings with him experience from one of the largest European online printing companies "Flyeralarm", but has also proven himself over the last three years as Managing Director of Schmid Druck + Medien GmbH and achieved visible successes. In the originally owner-managed company in Kaisheim (Bavaria), he has already carried out a successful generational change and digital conversion. At Elanders GmbH he is responsible for the entire commercial area. In the course of his new duties, he has also taken on worldwide responsibility as a member of the Elanders Print & Packaging Board of Management within the Elanders Group. "The interpersonal aspect is the focus of my work," says the new Managing Director. He wants to focus on optimized internal structures and a solid basis of trust across all hierarchical levels. "I want to encourage the people in the company to think and decide for themselves - in line with the company philosophy, economic goals and future orientation".

Digital solutions and smart IT services

31-year-old Christopher Sommer also wants to set a strategically clever course in the new duo. As the new managing director, he is responsible for the technology division and sees exciting topics for the coming years: "We want to invest not only in heavy iron and in machines, but also in digital solutions and smart IT services. Elanders GmbH will remain a printing specialist. "I approach the new tasks with great respect - but without fear, after all I have been with the company for a very long time and bear responsibility here". He is looking forward to the additional administrative topics and the innovative technologies. For Christopher Sommer, the topic of internal communication is very important - as a member of a younger generation, he wants to live an open management style, to always seek the opinions of his employees before making important decisions, and to take and involve people even more as part of the company.

The new duo therefore not only stands for a new management culture in the company, but also shares different visions: Elanders GmbH wants to broaden its future positioning, serve additional industries and focus on new markets. The company has set itself the goal of continuing to set the pace in the printing industry and to be a pioneer in the print business.
Rejuvenation and new management culture

Peter Sommer is also happy about the rejuvenation cure. "I'm fit enough and could go further, but the right time has something to do with intuition and gut feeling," explains the retired managing director. It was important to him to think about the generational handover in good time, to get everything in motion and to prepare for it. He appreciates Sven Burkhard's calm and likeable manner, has experienced that "the smart and honest guy" is well received by customers and employees and creates emotional connections to people. Peter Sommer is proud that his son Christopher is now joining the management team: "He has already gained a lot of experience in the company and brings with him experienced technical know-how and organizational talent. Not only does he know his way around procedures and processes and balance the technical capacities, he also has a very good connection to the works council".

Two young men on the same wavelength, who maintain a constructive relationship, understand each other excellently, have their own areas of responsibility and work closely together at certain interfaces - this seems to be the ideal solution for Elanders GmbH. "Sven and Christopher are good with each other as human beings, so it was obvious that the choice fell on both of them. I am convinced that they complement each other well and that with them we have laid an excellent foundation for the further development of Elanders," confirms Peter Sommer. He is completely convinced that the new duo will work excellently in the management. Neither vanities nor sensitivities would stand in the way of cooperation. The differences between the individuals are a real added value for harmonious teamwork - and also that each person is responsible for his or her own area of responsibility. "This generational change was very positively received by the employees. Many were already asking themselves: What will happen when the summer is over? Now everyone can see that the company is in trustworthy hands."

Information about Sven Burkhard
Sven Burkhard (born 1985) is Managing Director of Schmid Druck + Medien GmbH, based in Kaisheim (Bavaria), a company of the Elanders Group. The trained media designer, media specialist and business economist has been with the Group since 2017 and was previously employed in product management at Flyeralarm in Würzburg, among other things.

Information about Christopher Sommer
Christopher Sommer (born 1988) knew his father's printing business as a child. A trained media designer, he studied printing technology before first becoming head of the prepress department and then deputy technical manager. Since 2015 he has been working for Elanders GmbH as technical manager, from 2017 with power of attorney.

Information about Peter Sommer
Peter Sommer (born 1957) founded Sommer Corporate Media GmbH & Co. KG in Waiblingen and became managing director of Elanders GmbH in 2008. Since 2012, he has been Senator h.c. of the University of Applied Sciences in Nürtingen-Geislingen. Until the end of November 2019 he was Executive Vice President and CEO of Elanders Europe, Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of the Elanders Group and President of Elanders Print & Packaging Worldwide.


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