It has built key components for the International Space Station and is a world-leader in satellite technology. It is the prime contractor of 22 satellites for the European Navigation Satellite System, Galileo. Its clients include the European Space Agency and the German Federal Ministry of Defence. OHB SE has achieved a lot, but it is still highly ambitious. CEO Marco Fuchs talks to The CEO Magazine about some of the milestones that have stood out on the way to the top.

The CEO Magazine: Since buying the business in 1981, what do you think have been your family’s greatest achievements and success stories?

Marco: I think that the main achievement was in 2001 when we developed a concept for Germany’s Radar Reconnaissance Program. We were applauded for this and it was a major breakthrough. Before then we had annual sales in the range of €25-30 million and this contract was worth a further €10 million per year. It was like we had moved from the regional [!football!] league to the Bundesliga.

You have grown to be a very large corporation. What systems and structures did you have in place to enable such growth to occur? And what were the biggest challenges that you faced?

In a way, it was a type of chicken and egg process. We had been very active in acquisitions, based on excellence in engineering and technology. At that time our only challenge or limitation was that we were a very small team. However, a team of excellent experts. When we looked at the future, we needed a way to grow that didn’t follow the standard approach. We couldn’t just increase our capacity by hiring more people and then hope that we get the programs, or acquire them. It was a really critical point. We had to make new acquisitions to ensure that we could pay our team and on the other hand our customers expected us to provide excellent teams for additional programs. This duality—this step-by-step approach—was a way to success, but it also provided our biggest challenge.