People at BBS

‘At Bösch Boden Spies, Sales is a Team Sport’

Maximilian Voss is a “Hamburger” through and through. As Key Account Manager Supply at Bösch Boden Spies, he also feels at home all over the world, because he is in constant contact with ingredient producers around the globe. A conversation about trends, team spirit and terrific people.

Interview Maximilian Voss

“As a company, we’ve made a lot of good decisions in the past few years,” says Maximilian Voss, with equal conviction and satisfaction. The 37-year-old sports fan lives with his wife, son and two daughters in his hometown of Hamburg. He joined the team of the long-established company Bösch Boden Spies as Key Account Manager Supply in June 2008.

A business economist and paper-industry export merchant by training, Maximilian Voss now services our suppliers of cranberry juice concentrate from the U.S. and Chile, Mexican mango puree, banana products from Costa Rica, and passion fruit juice and concentrate from Ecuador and Peru. Most of the time he works from the company headquarters, but he also travels to visit farmers and partners, of course. “It’s very impressive to see how farmers give their all for a top product,” he says.


Mr. Voss, you trained in the paper industry, and have been working with fruit ingredients for ten years. What are the similarities and differences in the products?

Both industries work with natural ingredients whose availability depends on nature. For example, the weather determines the size of the harvest. Another common denominator is the influence that trends in consumer behavior have on sales. For example, more e-readers and online offerings mean less newsprint sold. By the same token, there are major differences. At Bösch Boden Spies,
I can go to the supermarket and see the products I’ve just sold the ingredients for. At my previous company, this sense of achievement was not as tangible.


What are your tasks as Key Account Manager Supply?

My KAM Supply colleagues and I are the supplier’s voice to the sales team at Bösch Boden Spies. On the one hand, we ensure that the team always knows what’s going on and, on the other, we discuss the strategy and implementation of the annual budget with the suppliers, define new projects, and which products the clients develop with the ingredients. The most important thing is staying in touch with our suppliers. We telephone, write and Skype about prices, harvests, availability, customer needs, quality requirements, and much more. This is a very varied task that constantly
challenges us.


Where did you last visit a supplier?

I went to visit our cranberry partner Ocean Spray in the U.S. with a client. Before that I supported a client’s audit at our passion fruit supplier in Ecuador and Peru – that was also very interesting. My visits on site allow me to know more than the sales side. This is very important for understanding the supplier’s processes and challenges. Talking to a farmer while standing in a passion-fruit plantation at the foot of the Andes makes you see things
in a different light.


Have you had any particularly memorable business trips?

I’ve experienced a lot in my time as a Key Account Manager, but one thing that left a particular impression was a train journey
I took in my early days – across India to a mango plantation. India is extraordinary. Likewise, the cranberry harvest in the U.S. is always an impressive experience – quite unlike anything of its kind. Or talking to customers and suppliers in the Costa Rican plateau about banana puree while looking down on the capital San José – that leaves an indelible impression.

And then there are the many great people who put all their passion into working with plants and fruit… When I meet farmers or factory workers and tell them that their fruit is turned into juices,
yoghurts and ice cream, this is met with genuine joy.


Long-standing partnerships are part of Bösch Boden Spies’ guiding principles. Why is this so important?

Long-term collaboration creates trust; trust breeds joint projects; and joint projects bring the next development steps in a business relationship. We place a priority on continuity and reliability. We work with suppliers who, just like us, invest in long-term collaboration and whose sales philosophy is compatible with our model of exclusive representation.


What role do producers play in the development of new products and evolution of existing ones?

There are suppliers who create additional capacity and support us in modifying products and opening up new sales channels. These are our key suppliers who contribute to the success of Bösch Boden Spies. Sometimes, however, evolution can consist of just a small modification to the production process that leads to cost
savings – which we can then pass on to our customers.


How important are trends for you as a key account manager?

Trends influence our daily actions. In 2009, for example, smoothies hit the market and the demand for banana puree shot up. The result was a significant price increase, even for the production of proven products. That really stirred up the market back then. Or take the juice industry, which has been struggling with falling consumption for years. Ten years ago, per capita consumption in Germany was 40 liters, now it’s down 33 liters. We counter this trend with high-quality products.


Where and how do you switch off from your job?

When I get home and three – usually cheerful – children jump into my arms, thoughts of work are quickly superseded. And I play hockey with the Grossflottbek Tennis Hockey and Golf Club (GTHGC). Hamburg is the hockey capital of Germany. A total of eight men’s and six women’s teams play in the national 1st or 2nd divisions, where everyone can see competitive sports at an affordable price – much better than courting disappointment with overpriced beer at the Volksparkstadion.


What do you love about hockey?

First and foremost, the team spirit. Wanting to guide the ball and pass it at just the right moment instead of hogging it and dribbling through on my own – having that skill helps me in my job as well. A hockey game is always a team effort, just like the collaboration between KAM Supply and KAM Sales. To cheer on others or have them cheer you on, and jointly achieve success – that’s what keeps you going.


What sights would a local recommend for a visitor to Hamburg?

Don’t miss the Fischbeker Heide, take a walk in Jenischpark, and cross the River Elbe on the Hadag ferry from Teufelsbrück to the city. Of course, this is something locals should see and do at some point, too!