Mr. Moormann, 36 years ago you founded your furniture company of the same name. Now sell your shares. Why?
The more you get older, the more you think about it, of course. I am now 67 and I think quite cheekily that as an autodidact in design I have achieved everything that you can and want to achieve. I haven’t left anything out. What would the alternative be? Go on and on? Always keep growing? I was never interested in size. And isn’t it great not to have to ask someone to take over the company, but to put a healthy company in new hands? Now is the best possible time. We’re doing so well economically, it’s almost scary.
We have the highest order backlog in our history. It’s like a little boom. Most of the people stay at home, look at their walls and want to change something. And don’t just ask yourself in difficult times: Is that nice? Do i want this? But also: Why and why does the manufacturer do it, where does it come from? That’s all that defines our company. I am happy when the customer questions that.
You go anyway.
The decision was clear to me. I don’t want to become a worn-out captain who forgot to disembark at the last port. But I don’t have any children. So my first thought was: stop, get out, close the company. But if you sleep over it for one night, difficulties become apparent. Employees, suppliers and customers get into economic hardship just because I don’t feel like it anymore. So I started looking for a successor, and contrary to expectations, several investors were found. I had never dealt with investors before, they were all very nice, but they said things like: “You have a great company, but you are too small. The sales would have to be brought into another dimension.” That didn’t feel good.
Then you’ve found Kristina Münnix and Christian Knorst: a pair of siblings who have specialized in taking over small and medium-sized companies. What are you doing differently?
You bring a local proximity with you, so you can contribute yourself. And: You approach with your own capital, you take the risk yourself. They have no experience in the furniture industry. That was one of the reasons I chose her.
How can you understand that?
Keeping such a company going is a difficult undertaking. If somebody only has half an idea of it and integrates or sucks it out somewhere – or even worse: simply copies me – then I find that difficult. You have to start from scratch without forgetting the roots. It’s enough for me to see the passion for design sparkling in the eyes of Ms. Münnix and Mr. Knorst. That’s an incredible power, I’ve experienced it myself. I’m a broken lawyer, had no idea about design and business. That’s how I got started and with luck it turned into a real company.
But they also had a knack for good ideas. Some of your furniture, such as the modular FNP shelf by Axel Kufus, have become icons, and the tilting shoe cabinet by Hanspeter Weidmann, which helped you achieve your breakthrough, has been copied a million times.