Up Close & Personal

In search of the perfect breeze

“Bösch Boden Spies is a hidden champion,” says Dr. Philipp Stradtmann. Since 4 June, the 45-year-old has strengthened the Bösch Boden Spies management team in matters of Dried Fruit & Nut Sales and Retail. But who is the new manager? An interview about BBS, the love of sailing, and a sabbatical.

“Bösch Boden Spies has positioned itself very cleverly and sustainably in a niche. And it has done so with the kind of entrepreneurial quality that only a family-owned business can achieve.” Dr. Philipp Stradtmann knows what he is talking about. Born in Bocholt in the Münsterland region, he grew up in Düsseldorf, studied and earned his doctorate at St. Gallen, was CEO of the KOB Group, the world market leader for elastic textiles, and held management positions in the Oetker Group.

The 45-year-old turns the former management trio into a quartet. He has long-term plans for his commitment to Bösch Boden Spies: “Hamburg is meant to be a home port.” The father of a 16-year-old son loves sailing and jogging regularly around the Alster. He ran the Hamburg Marathon at the end of April. “Hamburg has the most beautiful route I’ve run so far and the greatest crowd.”


Dr. Stradtmann, how did your new team welcome you?

Very warmly and openly, but without special treatment. That’s the house style.


Do you see it more as an advantage or a disadvantage to join such a successful company?

As a worthy challenge. I know situations in which companies have gone off the rails and a turnaround was necessary. But of course it’s just as challenging to ensure the success of a company that has grown as dynamically as Bösch Boden Spies over many years. On the one hand, this is quite practical because they can initiate changes with the warm tailwind of success and prepare them with a lot of lead time. But of course they also have to overcome the potential mental barrier of “Why does anything have to change at all? – We’re already doing great.”


Bösch Boden Spies is developing rapidly. Have you already found the reasons for this?

In my opinion, BBS’s successful concept consists of three components: On the one hand, there’s a very clear business model that the shareholders resolutely maintain and develop. This gives our business partners an essential sense of reliability and contributes to a high degree of trust. Secondly, our family-owned company has excellent suppliers, real partners whose interests we represent on a long-term and sustainable basis. And thirdly, every day I experience a very committed and entrepreneurially motivated team, and that ultimately provides the momentum for this impressive success story.


You were in the food industry for ten years once before, starting in the mid-2000s: What has changed since then?

A lot – above all because thanks to the internet, anyone can access information about the production and processing of food in a matter of seconds. Consequently, customers demand a completely different degree of transparency than 10, or 20 years ago. In connection with this, there’s also a completely different awareness of quality. These are all indications that we’re eating more consciously and are much more concerned about where food comes from and how it’s processed.


What are the consequences for Bösch Boden Spies?

We have to take this into account because we serve two sides: Firstly, retail and the food processing industry, who increasingly need more and faster information from us. Secondly, at the same time we must convey to our suppliers how they can position themselves to this end – also regarding the huge issue of sustainability: Do they work in a socially responsible way? Do they manage their company in an environmentally friendly way? These questions arise today with a completely different intensity than in the past.


Before joining Bösch Boden Spies, you took a four-month sabbatical. Why?

The last years of work were very intensive and I was apart from my family during the week. That’s why I wanted to use the time for my family and myself. I also ran the Hamburg Marathon, attended a Zen seminar in a monastery, obtained a Scrum Master certificate, went to Israel with my family to see how start-up support works there, learned a few things about Design Thinking… The time out was very valuable for me and my family. I’ll probably do something similar again.


Are you capable of just sitting back and doing nothing at times?

My wife would laugh out loud now. I have a fundamental restlessness, in the positive sense. Whenever new winds come up that take us somewhere else, I remind her of my vow when we got married: that life would never be boring. She admits I’ve adhered to this strictly for 16 years.


You like to sail. What fascinates you about it?

Above all – and this has a lot to do with management – the search for auspicious winds. If you decide that you want to get from A to B on a certain route, but the winds won’t allow it, it probably won’t work. You have to be flexible and be able to say: The destination is still the right one, but getting there is going to require a different route. That’s exactly what corporate management is all about: sticking to the goal but, if necessary, taking a different course while keeping everyone on board.


If Bösch Boden Spies were a ship, what would it be?

A proud, streamlined three-master racing south under full sail.