In the beginning, there was a wish.
So here I come from Berlin to Munich to study. The way people came to study in the 70s: in a VW van. Love & peace sign clearly visible. Hair a little longer. Which doesn’t detract from the knowledge I gain during lectures. Especially since it awakens a desire in me: Get away from what others whisper to you. Strive for a self-determined life. This way, I found a company while I’m still a student. And I also gained another, a practical insight: not everything I do succeeds just because I want it to. Sometimes an idea crashes into the wall. Fortunately, not the VW van.
At that time, I wasn’t aware that I’m experiencing what happens to most start-ups. The term probably didn’t even exist in Germany back then. As an attentive reader of printed media, however, I encountered the term “outsourcing” more and more frequently in the English-speaking world. Now it was no longer just a business idea. It was also the fascinating idea of being so good at something that others would entrust me with this task because it paid off.
Respect for craftsmanship shapes the business until today
Next step to successful self-employment: I’m setting up a commercial cleaning business. Three things speak for it. My respect for craftsmanship on the one hand and the unconditional intention to work with people on the other. The third reason is my family background – my father was an architect – and my familiarity with everything that has the term “building” in it. My first team was small, due to the costs. A Greek couple who had the actual skills, and me as an assistant for mopping. Our first client, a bank in Munich, complains that the mopping is not always up to the promised standard. Managing director Eberhard Sasse slips on the smooth marble of his core business, a real “underperformer” at the mop.
What ultimately crowns these insightful years is that an academic education alone is obviously not enough for me. I decide to take an additional educational path and become a quailified industrial cleaner, a “Gebäudereinigungsmeister” as it is known in Germany. In 1985, I received my certificate. A fitting moment, since this was the same year that FC Bayern won the title for the third time in a row. All of Munich was in championship fever. Me too.
Now I had expertise from the ground up. During this time, my already existing respect for professional craftsmanship was further strengthened. It is still formative for me today. Industrial cleaning is not a service according to the manual. You have to understand it in order to master it. What followed? More about that soon.