Professor Burkart Knospe, CEO of Testo, has been part of the Testo family since 1992, working as managing director of Testo Incorporated, which is the companys US subsidiary. After five years in the United States, Burkart returned to Germany as managing director of the organisation until Testo was floated and he took up his current role.
The CEO Magazine caught up with Burkart to discuss the changes the company has undergone and what lies ahead for the international leader in high-tech measuring instruments.
The CEO Magazine: Having led Testo since 1997, how have you seen the company grow and develop?
Burkart: When I came back from the US in 1997, it was very important for me to turn the company into a truly international organisation in terms of our sales and marketing in different countries, and also our understanding of the product needs of different countries. So I changed the international sales department and sales management. I started a period of very quick establishment of additional subsidiaries. When I came back in 1997, there were about nine subsidiaries and two years later there were 17 or 18. The company became much more international.
Today, roughly half of our employees worldwide are not working out of Germany but in an international Testo company. That has certainly been a very big change. The other one is a change of focus in terms of where we make most of our sales. In the past until 2010, our largest subsidiaries worldwide were France, Italy, and Spain; today our largest markets are China and the US. France is still among the top, but the other two have fallen behind. We have strong growth out of intercontinental markets and we see less growth out of European countries, so we have the company turning more intercontinental as opposed to only international.