"Beer is the heart of our family"
Read a rare interview with the head of our brewery below. Pia Kollmar spoke to B4B Schwaben on a range of subjects, including tradition, values and OeTTINGER’s unique “family DNA”.
Source: B4B Schwaben, October 14, 2020
“OeTTINGER Brewery: 300 years of company history in the Donau-Ries-Region”
Family businesses have stayed loyal to our region for generations. The new series “Our family businesses” looks at what makes them successful and what the region of Bavarian Swabia means to them. This time, it’s OeTTINGER Brewery in the spotlight.
At first glance, Oettingen – situated between Augsburg and Nuremberg – seems to be a typical town in Bavarian Swabia. Just over 5,100 people live here, with its most characteristic construction being a Baroque residential palace. However, the Bavarian Swabian town in the Donau-Ries district is also the setting for an almost 300 year-long company history – it is a history centered on Germany’s national drink: Beer! Because this is where OeTTINGER, one of the largest breweries in the country, has its headquarters. In an interview, Pia Kollmar, currently Managing Partner of OeTTINGER Brewery, explains the secret to the business’s success, when its big break came – and why OeTTINGER has escaped relatively unscathed by the coronavirus crisis.
B4B WIRTSCHAFTSLEBEN SCHWABEN: What is the scale of production at OeTTINGER?
Pia Kollmar: Each year, approximately 800 million liters of drinks leave our four brewing locations. In addition to our headquarters in the Donau-Ries district, we also have regional branches across Germany in Mönchengladbach, Gotha und Braunschweig. Therefore, in total, we produce more than two billion bottles and cans each year, which we distribute across Germany and all over the globe. OeTTINGER drinks are enjoyed by people in almost 100 countries. We are a global brand Made in Germany. And if you like, we are “Born in Donau-Ries”!
Where did the story of OeTTINGER begin?
The dynamic history of our Höhenberger/Kollmar brewing family begins in 1731 in the present-day Forstquell Brewery in Fürnheim near Wassertrüdingen, Middle Franconia. We expanded in 1956, purchasing the former cooperative brewery in Oettingen. Little by little, our other brewing locations and our distribution center in Walldorf were also added to the Group. Today, around 1,000 wonderful people put their heart and soul into their work at the OeTTINGER Brewery GmbH family business.
What sort of strategy was followed to achieve this?
The 1970s saw an increasing number of supermarkets springing up right across Germany, and my father Günther Kollmar was quick to see the sales potential. His business idea: High-quality, affordable beer to enjoy at home. This idea not only worked out well, it also continues to build the basis for our modern business strategy.
OeTTINGER Brewery’s major growth spurt came in 2003 with the introduction of can deposits: Many consumers switched from consuming beer in cans to consuming bottled OeTTINGER beer as an affordable alternative.
Which generation is now managing the company?
We Kollmars and our forefathers the Höhenbergers have always been brewers who have passed the business onto their descendants. As the business grew and out of it was formed OeTTINGER Brewery GmbH, it remained an owner-managed company, as it is to this day. My mother Ingrid and I are the Managing Partners. Now, the tenth generation of the family since 1731 in the shape of my two daughters are nearly ready to take on management responsibilities. Peter Böck and Dr. Andreas W. Boettger are also part of the management team at OeTTINGER.
What advantages do family businesses have over externally-managed companies?
Since 1731, we have firmly believed in one of the most wonderful products in the world: Beer! Beer is at the heart of our family! Ambition, hard work and a sense of responsibility also form part of our “family DNA”. Therefore, beer brewing is very clearly not just a way of earning money but also a hugely important and very fulfilling legacy. One of the greatest advantages of managing such a large brewing group as a family business is that we as a family can embody the values we expect from our colleagues to set an example: Everybody pulling together to brew the best beer.
How has OeTTINGER handled the corona crisis?
So far, the issue of short-time work or other government aid has not had to be raised at any of our locations. Production is continuing seamlessly and OeTTINGER has not been hindered in its distribution capacity. Of course, we took measures very early on in order to protect our colleagues, suppliers and partners as much as possible against infection. Based on our own strengths, such as our focus on retail as a distribution channel, forgoing advertising and major sponsoring initiatives, as well as our own fleet of vehicles, we have done everything we can to ensure that OeTTINGER Brewery has been able to escape the crisis largely unscathed.