An interview with Uwe Scharfy – CEO at Baumer of America
In 2017 Uwe Scharfy started at Baumer of America (BoA) as CEO. Learn more about his way of life and his character.
In which ways did you develop your liking for foreign countries and change from Germany to America?
At the age of 17 I have already developed a taste for travel and discovered my liking of foreign countries and cultures. I went from Germany to the U.S. as an exchange student and at that time said that this won’t be the last time I visited. So I started with training to become an industrial business management assistant for the engineering firm Heinrich Georg GmbH in Siegen-Germany. This early employer quickly recognized my potential and after my apprenticeship sent me to the U.S. subsidiary to establish services there. I gladly accepted because I enjoy tackling tasks being challenged. First I took on the role of General Manager. Then I became Vice President, and finally the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). At the same time, I studied business and minored in accounting. I have a practical background and have expanded my knowledge by studying the basic principles.
Why do you like working in a family-owned business?
I definitely wanted to embark on the next step in my career in becoming a Chief Executive Manager (CEO), and thus Managing Director, in a family-owned business. Structures are flat and decisions are made quickly in this type of company. Everyone knows each other and people aren’t just numbers like they are in a large company. I quickly became part of the “family”. The sense of community here is palpable. This is important for me and was something I immediately liked about Bäumer. Another bonus, as a result of my decision to join Bäumer, is the healthy balance between years of experience and creative, youthful dynamics. These are good prerequisites for innovative growth in the future. At the same time, I also feel the responsibility that comes with the new position. After all, as a subsidiary, Baumer of America (BoA) is one of the largest and most important markets for the foam industry.
What is the secret to be a good chief?
By their own admission, the BoA colleagues welcomed me with open arms. It was really great and I could also immediately feel the harmony in the team. They all work very well together. My door is always open and my staff knows that they can turn to me any time and I’ll be there for them. I’m a loyal person and everyone who has ever met me can tell. I stand by my team and I always listen to all sides. I have an acute sense of fairness, which always results in good compromises.
New industry – new customers. Is it exciting?
An interesting time is starting for me. The foam industry is a new industry for me, and it is exciting to learn about what makes the customers tick. Bäumer has a wide range of machinery, and the technical complexity is challenging. I especially like the intercultural environment at BoA. Working with people with different cultural backgrounds makes it particularly interesting and exciting. This is why it is so important to me to work in an internationally active company. Better yet, I am now actively involved in the future growth of the Bäumer Group. What was particularly impressive were the initial results with Bäumer customers. It’s great to see how many customers are Bäumer fans to the core. They don’t want anything else. They value the premium product and absolutely want a Bäumer machine, made in Germany, in their workshop.
What is your goal for the future?
In the U.S. everything is done with less red tape. The focus on service is a notch higher than in Germany. In the U.S. people experience good service in person. For example, I was in a restaurant and the wait was long. I got my food for free as a result. The goal of most American companies is customer satisfaction under all circumstances.
My goal is to further expand Bäumer’s market position and brand and to strategically adapt to the growth in recent years. I have ambitious goals and I have to develop growth strategies. This also includes the advancement and further development of the BOA team. I see the parent company and the BOA subsidiary as one large team. Through close cooperation we can take advantage of our synergies and strengthen our market position.
Please describe your character. What type of person is Uwe Scharfy?
Challenging tasks drive me and I like that. Boredom is not for me. I like sports and I need that as a balance to my job. In Germany I played handball. Now I ski and enjoy skiing on very difficult ski slopes because I love speed. I also exercise at a gym and don’t have time for more.
I need to get away for vacation and I like to meet new people and learn about new cultures. This is part of my nature and the reason why I lived in China for a year in 2013 to manage a subsidiary there. After that I backpacked for several months through Asia and Australia.
What have impressed you most in your travels, Uwe Scharfy?
It is incredible how much poverty there actually is in the world and how different you feel when you face it close up. This has influenced my perspective significantly. But I also mention unique experiences in nature, such as in Bali/Uluwatu. There I spent hours sitting on a cliff and taking in nature.