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Interview with Katharina Prinz

Stay grounded while reaching for the stars.

A company is characterized by many things, there's the staff, the customers, the products. And there is also the management. This interview was conducted in May 2010 and reveals a lot about our Managing Director Katharina Prinz - also, among other things, why  you need to stay grounded to reach for the stars.

Have fun!

Mrs Prinz, the Telekom has introduced a quota for women executives. Is that, from your perspective, a good idea?

I think it's a good idea. Although I think the word “women’s quota” is horrible . The word has a negative connotation, because it suggests that under-qualified women might be lifted to a position - just to fulfil a quota. It is clear that at least 50% of university graduates are women. Many of these women can not advance into high positions because men obviously form much better networks. In principle, these are therefore not mean, but nonetheless influential mechanisms that prevent the advance of qualified women to appropriate positions. The fact that a quota of women can counteract this problem successfully can be observed for example in Scandinavia. There are many more women working in absolute leadership positions.

Reinhard Mey once versed "men are in the DIY store, while the woman parks outside." Do you park outside, or does your husband?

Unfortunately, I don’t know this interesting song. Finally, I am a very busy woman (laughs). Who parks depends on what car we are traveling in. And I think it goes without saying that I don’t let me take away to do the shopping together with my husband.

As managing director of Carl Prinz GmbH you run a company with a long family tradition. Are more than 100 years of history more curse or blessing for your daily work?

I think it's a blessing. A long family tradition may never cause you're constantly looking backwards. I find it excellent that a company exists as long. And the decision to enter the company respectively to rethink my career choice again was made on the occasion of the 100th anniversary - because I would have regretted if a company does not continue with a long family tradition. But it’s important that you also keep looking forward, because tradition alone does not keep a company alive! I want to build upon what has been created over many years, and - this is particularly important to me - I want to shape the future!

What is more fun? Staying grounded with experience or being innovation hungry and to reach for the stars?

For me it’s a joy to keep the company while shaping it at the same time. "To keep" means to live the values ​​that are rooted in a company that was able to stand its ground for more than 119 years. With "shaping" I think of shaping the future. We constantly have to reinvent ourselves and need to align to the changing needs of our customers. Traditionally, Prinz is an innovation leader. We deal with new trends and product requirements very intensively and sustainably to offer innovative solutions to our customers. Our customers expect that from us.

It is interesting that just the company that I manage, recently gets copied more often. Copied are both our products and our product design as well.

What does it mean to you to produce at the location Goch?

I grew up in Goch and feel connected to the Lower Rhine region and its inhabitants. In Goch we have a highly motivated, experienced and innovative team. This is the basic condition for the success of the company. And Goch is closely linked to the Ruhr, the Rhine region and our neighbouring countries Holland and Belgium. Therefore, the city and the surrounding area is the ideal location for the company Prinz.

Was there ever seriously the idea to change the location?

In 1956 we already changed the location. At that time, we came from Werdohl (Sauerland) to the Lower Rhine region. It would therefore be no problem for me, in turn, to change the location. But there is this not the slightest reason to do so.

What would you say you love most about your job, and what do you like least?

I decided to become CEO at Prinz because I wanted to work independently and not bound by instructions.

I like the most that you can be creative every day, and that there is so much to change and so many things to move. That is a lot of fun! I also like to be on the move. I like to travel, which is a great advantage of my profession. And if you ask me what I like less - I can’t think of anything spontaneously!

What do you like to do when you have a break from the daily business?

I am a family person. That said, all family members who are active in the company have a very close relationship and meet regularly in private. Since my husband is self-employed and professionally strong involved, we have little common leisure time on weekdays. That is why we enjoy it very much to find some distance from the business world on weekends to golf together. Being in nature, to have a quiet talk and also do sports - that is great fun for both of us.

Tell us your secret recipe: How does Carl Prinz GmbH manage to grow healthy, compared to the general market trend?

The company Prinz is oriented to think from the customer’s view. I have already pointed out that we are an innovative company and for this reason we have innovative products in our product portfolio. That is a very important "ingredient" to our success. And we have a very good, highly qualified and motivated team.

On top of that, being a salesperson is, in a sense, my passion. That is what I mediate and live in front of our team in the field. Not solely, but also because of that we have 14 dedicated retailers, who see themselves as consultants for our customers.

In addition, Prinz has good and innovative products and a high quality service, like delivery reliability and speed of delivery. The composite is an important part of our recipe for success.

Where do you think the industry will develop? And is Prinz up to the challenges ahead?

We see the trend that the consumer remembers the domestic more than hitherto. This is often a consequence of crisis. One draws back to one’s own home, back into the house, and there you want to have it nice and appealing. For this part of the consumers we have our premium products in the first place.

There are also more and more low-wage earners, who can afford products from the discount sector only. For this target group Prinz also supplies products.

Finally, there is the commercial sector, which in turn has different requirements. We have also developed professional products for this segment.

Therefore, the company Prinz is strategically well positioned and can continue to grow. In my opinion, growth is generated more by the width of the program than by growing demand for our products in the near future.

Where do you see Carl Prinz GmbH in the future? What long-term goals are to be attained?

In the future, I see Prinz as a family business. We will expand our program to become a full-line provider in the flooring area. In our 7-year plan we have laid down an annual growth, and by now we are performing better than expected.

We want to and will expand our market share in Germany and we are more than ever focused on export, above all in Europe.

To cope with this growth, we are currently investing in the expansion of our warehousing and logistics. This summer the expansion of our logistics centre starts, which will more than double our currently available capacity.

And finally, straight to the point: If you had to decide quickly, what would you choose: Hammer or handbag?


Mrs. Prince, thank you for the interview.