12 Mar SESITEC | A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE OF EMOTIONS
SESITEC INTERVIEW WITH
CHRISTIAN VON LERCHENFELD & CHRISTOPH SCHWARZ
Burgberg/Germany, 09 March 2018 – With its 25-year history, Sesitec von Lerchenfeld GmbH is truly a company with tradition. Complex developments and sudden expansions put company founder and CEO Christian von Lerchenfeld in the situation of needing to rethink existing structures and in order to re-organize the company from the ground up. The result of this process is the new Sesitec GmbH, which along with the strong involvement of Christoph Schwarz, longtime partner and owner of Turncable Wakepark, will lead the company successfully into the future.
Christian, which special highlight from the last 25 years has stuck in your memory?
Christian : The huge grin on the face of our longtime Sales Director and former pro wakeboarder Patrick Viererbe in June 2008, after he became the first one to master the curve on the rear mast of our newly developed System 2.0. This moment was simply indescribable: we had so much fun we couldn’t stop riding.
Has the System 2.0 changed a lot for Sesitec?
Christian : Yes, definitely. 2008 in general was a very important developmental moment for our company. Despite the worldwide recession that year, we were able to create drastic revenue increases. That made it possible for us to find solid ground as a company. The System 2.0 opened our company to the world market, and all of a sudden we were the talk of town and seemingly omnipresent.
Looking back, how would you describe the past ten years?
Christian : On the one hand, this time was exciting and packed with many great moments. On the other hand, it was also marked with many difficult challenges. It was an entrepreneurial rollercoaster ride of emotions, and it was definitely never boring.
Photo: A Full Size Cable as well as a System 2.0 is currently being installed in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Two additional projects in Texas and North Carolina are in the final preparation phase and will break ground later in March.`
Christoph, in February 2018 you joined Sesitec. How did this come about?
Christoph : As the owner of Wakepark Turncable, I got to know Sesitec and Christian back in 2008 as a reliable and innovative partner. From the beginning, we saw things the same way. Over our many years of collaboration, a friendship and very close relationship developed between our companies. I’d already been thinking about the ways in which I could get more involved with the company and have a positive influence on its development. In February we were able to wrap it all up and I am now the owner of Sesitec GmbH.
Concretely, what will your role be with the company in the future?
Christoph : Above all, I want to support Sesitec in my role as partner and chairman, which means participating in broader strategic decision-making and exerting a certain influence so that the company develops in a healthy direction and we’re able to complete all of our coming projects vigorously. Basically, we want to maximize Sesitec’s potential in order to master the challenges that Christian mentioned earlier.
Sesitec von Lerchenfeld GmbH declared bankruptcy in February 2018. Why?
Christian : The bankruptcy was a consequence of some poor decisions that were made in the past years. As a result, the company suffered from an increasing liquidity problem, which was the reason why I first contacted Christoph about this issue about one year ago. We discussed how we could unite our strength in order to give the company a better footing.
Christoph : We never planned to go the bankruptcy route. But it was clear to us that we needed an economically sound, sustainable solution for the future, for us as well as for all of our customers, suppliers and employees. If a deal is built on insecure footing, upon closer inspection it’s practically predestined to fail, and at some point you have to accept that a different solution is needed. Due to a variety of technical complications, everyone involved in our process realized that there was no alternative to bankruptcy, even if it’s completely self-administered.
Christian : We know that unfortunately no bankruptcy takes place without creating some casualties, and that some of our partners will also be affected. This isn’t a good place to be, and neither Christoph nor myself were excited about it. However, I think that this decision in the long term will provide the chance for even the affected suppliers to continue to work successfully with us in the future. From most of these partners we’ve received positive feedback about continuing our collaboration, and even strengthening our relationships.
Photo: In Lithuania, work is progressing on the 313 Wakepark. This is the customer’s second big project with Sesitec, the first being Wakeway.
Is the bankruptcy more of a defensive move, or do you have a full-speed-ahead strategy for the new Sesitec GmbH?
Christoph : We are definitely going full speed ahead, and that’s remained the same throughout all of our talks. In the past weeks we’ve focused heavily on the technical steps necessary to bring the company on a secure footing so that we can then really move forward, and not be hindered by these burdensome factors from the beginning that would constrain the development of the company.
Which advantages does the structure of the new Sesitec GmbH have?
Christoph : We’ve brought a new CEO on board, Dieter Eisenlauer, who is an absolute financial professional with extensive, relevant experience in the sports industry. So we can be sure that the entire commercial and financial side will be absolutely professionally managed in the future. Additionally, this path has also created the opportunity to supply the company with new liquidity, so that financially the company is now on a very strong footing.
Christian : For me personally, I’ll be dedicating myself to the role of Technical Director. I can leave administrative decisions to others with a clear conscience – I’m excited to apply my skills again in product and project development. That’s what’s the most fun for me, and where my strengths lie.
Christian , a 25-year family tradition… will this carry on despite the changes?
Christian : Yes, of course! Our passion for this will never change, and our entire company lives it every day. And what’s more: Christoph has already been like a member of our family almost since the beginning.
Christoph (laughs) : I feel the same way – and not just during the recent developments, but for many years already.
With so much experience in the company already, is the plan to stay grounded, or to push forward with new innovation?
Christoph : Very clearly, push forward. Of course! I have always wanted to set new marks, provide new impulses and pursue new paths. There’s nothing else I would want to do with Sesitec.
Photo: Infinite Ride in Argentina has made it – their new Full Size Cable near the city of Rosario was completed in the past weeks.
How would you describe the positioning of the new Sesitec GmbH?
Christoph : The expanded product portfolio of Sesitec is a very important point of difference in the market. In the end, we describe ourselves not only as the builders of parks and facilities, but we also use our advantages and expertise to go beyond this. Of course, we are already well-positioned with our existing technical products and innovations we already have on the drawing board and which we’ll pursue with increased energy now. But we can also use our company experience, specific know-how and diverse contacts in the market to make credible judgments on what really defines a successful wakepark and where improvements can be made. Therefore, we started to do more customer consultation and accompany our partners through all the particulars of different project phases. For me Sesitec was always a synonym for wakeboarding and for an earnest interest in the positive development of the whole branch, which no competitor can match at this level.
Christian, Christoph. What do you wish for the future of Sesitec and for the whole branch?
Christian : I believe that we can provide many more people with wonderful moments out on the water, whether they’re completing their first runs or watching their kids learn new tricks from the shore. Wakeparks are meeting places with a high recreational value that can have a positive impact on people. This realization led us to integrate the slogan “Living Water” into our communications for many years now already. The concept applies more now than ever before: with Sesitec we want to increase the attractiveness of lakes and wakeparks in general, and help even the most diverse groups of people have an unforgettable time on the water.
Christoph : I hope that in the coming years many more people will get to know and come to appreciate Sesitec as a loyal, reliable and innovative partner. As a team we want to enrich the entire branch with new approaches and products. And all of this with true passion for the sport – just as I and many other Sesitec customers have come to perceive the company over the years.
Photo: What an opening party! The new facilities at Infinite Ride were swarmed by enthusiastic riders and spectators alike.