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Daniel Lörcks und Christina Happich

31 March 2022 

All for one and one for all

Daniel Lörcks is not only the managing director of Lörcks GmbH, which he founded in 1997 as a sole trader, but has also been responsible for business development at FABRI since 2020. Daniel is a master electrician and electrical engineer, a qualified tradesman in the fields of heating, ventilation and sanitation and also a publicly appointed and sworn expert for the plumbing and heating trade.
We met up with Daniel Lörcks for a short interview.

CH: Hi Daniel. Perhaps we could start with a brief retrospective. Why did you decide to become self-employed over 25 years ago?
DL: There were two reasons for my decision. I completed my training in the public sector and – to put it simply – it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I’m more of a “doer” and constantly have new ideas and suggestions for improvement. There was just too little scope for this as a public sector worker. So one day I simply quit and enrolled in the school for master craftspeople. There were two electricians in Blankenheim at the time, and when both of them retired I saw this is my opportunity. I invested all my money in a van and tools – and the rest is history.
 
CH: That was quite a big step for a 22-year-old. What happened next? When did you hire your first staff?
 
DL: My first employee was a trainee, who I met and then effectively poached for my business. The next member of staff was someone whose tools I used to carry when completing my training. And I’m proud to say that this particular colleague still works for me in a managerial position. The team simply grew from there – a trainee here, a fellow there. Today Lörcks employs 35 staff and 6 trainees.
 
CH: On the subject of trainees: you attach great importance to good training. Why is that?
 
DL: It’s very simple: The best people are those you trained yourself – and they will remain the best people in the future. I care so much about this matter that I have been known to sit down with my trainees on a Saturday to help them study for the trade school.
The most important thing is that you support and encourage your trainees, that you give them their own projects and even send them off on their own from time to time. We require our trainees to be able to complete jobs independently by their second year of apprenticeship – with support and oversight of course. This is great motivation for them. And these efforts pay off: In recent years, many of our trainees have been deemed the best in their particular guild or chamber of crafts, and one even attained third place in the national rankings of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts. That is something I am very proud of.
 
CH: Virtually every business in the skilled crafts sector has been affected by the skills shortage in recent years. How do you manage to attract new employees to your company?
 
DL: Most of it happens by word of mouth. For example, our trainees may sing our praises at the trade school. And then there’s the events that we hold for everyone. We also document these on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. This makes it very clear that Lörcks looks after its employees.
Another factor is that we have a really good working atmosphere here. Everyone is treated with respect, but it’s still very informal, and we also have short communication paths. If someone has problem or concern, they can come directly to me or my wife. We interact as equals here, and that is something our employees really appreciate. They enjoy working for Lörcks – and word soon gets around.
 
CH: Perhaps it’s also your company’s approach to digitalisation? All of your technicians use iPads instead of the traditional pen and paper.
 
DL: Yes, that’s definitely another reason. Young people attach great importance to digital solutions. In fact, I would say that it’s something they expect and demand even. All of my technicians have tablets. It saves them a great deal of time, and it’s also something that they are proud of. When I look at other tradespeople, I can see that we’re very much in the minority here.
 
CH: Was it difficult to convince your employees of the benefits of tablets?
 
DL: Not at all. My employees definitely see the advantages of using a tablet. It makes their work a lot more enjoyable.
 
CH: Being something of a sports enthusiast yourself, you set up a gym for your employees on your premises some years ago. How was this received, and what effects has it had?
 
DL: I did, yes. I have been into weight training for many years, and then decided to do a triathlon about five years ago – more by accident than anything else. Knowing all the benefits that I gain from exercise, I hit upon the idea of setting up a small gym on our premises.
Around half of my employees use it very regularly, either straight after work or at the weekends. Some even bring their partners or friends along. They were particularly grateful for this facility during COVID times, when all other gyms were closed. I should add, of course, that we hung out schedules and made sure that the gym was never too full. Exercise reduces stress and helps to provide a healthy work/life balance. My employees value this very much. I have noticed a significant reduction in sick days, and a lot less complaining about back pain.
 
CH: You recently turned 48. Some would say that’s quite a young age to be transferring your business to new ownership. What were your reasons for making this important decision for your future at such an early stage?
 
DL: That’s a bit of a long story. Five years ago, I had some intensive discussions with the chamber of commerce to get some advice on how to attract new employees. These conversations gave rise to the idea of joining forces with other businesses so that we could be stronger as a group.
Since I was keenly aware that this was no small undertaking, I needed somebody to support me in this endeavour. Then I met Jochen Waag and – what can I say – we simply hit it off. And not just on a personal level, but the concept also exactly matched my expectations: this idea of strength in numbers.
I had also reached a point where there was nothing left to optimise within my business. I always need a goal for myself – another step to climb. And the next step for me was to share my knowledge and experience with other businesses.
 
CH: That takes me neatly onto the next question. As well as being the managing director of Lörcks GmbH, you are also a project manager within the FABRI Group. What does this job entail?
 
DL: First of all, I have to say that I am now more motivated than ever. I now have the wonderful job of strengthening the individual companies of the Group as one big whole. As a project manager, I am able to pass on my experience of operational matters, employee management, digitalisation and much more besides.
I also want to advance the training provision offered by FABRI. I am of the firm conviction that training and development play a crucial role in the success of a business. Every employee should attend regular courses and training. The FABRI Academy already offers first-class online coaching in a range of topics. I am also planning to set up a “learning workshop” in the coming years, which will offer tailored seminars and training for all employees of the FABRI Group.
 
CH: Daniel, many thanks for talking to us. We are delighted to call you part of the FABRI Group.
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