In 2015, for the sixth consecutive year, Knaus Tabbert showed record sales in the European marketplace. The leading caravan and motorhome manufacturer managed to break over €350 million in turnover, achieving a 12.4 per cent market share in Germany for motorhomes and 22.4 per cent in caravans after growth rates above 20 per cent.
This level of success looks set to continue, which is great news for Knaus Tabbert considering the testing times it has experienced in the past.
When Wolfgang Speck came on board as CEO in 2013, the industry was in dire straits. Back in 2006, there were roughly 200,000 units being sold each year, but by 2013 that number had dropped to just 130,000.
“The entire market in Europe had lost a third of its volume,” Wolfgang recalls. “That was of course a difficult situation for everyone in the industry and that was what was happening when I stepped into the job. Also, internally at Knaus Tabbert, there were a lot of things that needed to be worked on and resolved. So I dug deeply, looking at ways where the business could improve. We ended up negotiating a new contract with our consortium of banks, we negotiated with the unions to make settlement over the next three years, and we also developed a lot of new models which would better support our dealer network. The big challenge back in 2013 was also to create a new mindset, a new culture, and a new management team in Knaus Tabbert.”
Bringing in a fresh executive group, Wolfgang felt it was important to get the right mix of skills and capabilities in order to deliver the changes most effectively, and he says the selection process was based on several key aspects. While the question of competence was important, he also felt it was necessary to analyse the candidates’ relationship skills. “For me it is more important to have a well-balanced team in place, rather than just one or two excellent players in that team,” Wolfgang explains. “I didn’t want people who were only focused on their own agenda. It was my decision to bring in people who had also already worked for long periods within the organisation, to give them an opportunity to develop and grow. I think that has been the key to working wonderfully together with a lot of power, and a lot of enthusiasm.”