STAR knows the market, so we know precisely what our clients and specialists need. We’ve been pursuing opportunities in Germany for eight years now, so it’s high time to talk to Lars Bakker and Stefanie Weßel, who head up our German operations, about how they’ve approached their challenge and achieved success.
“Germany is a huge market and its production capacity in our sectors is formidable. In recent years, there’s been a major trend towards green investment,” Lars explains, “and that’s where we train our focus. We want to provide large companies access to just the right specialists to help them complete a successful energy transition.”
The work in Germany has become more purposeful. “As a Dutch company new to Germany, we initially maintained our Dutch attitude. It takes time to acclimatise, to become truly aware of your environment and to adapt.
“We do things differently now. First we worked nationwide, but two years ago we adopted a regional focus, starting with the Ruhr region in the west of the country, where Stefanie comes from, and the Mannheim-Ludwigshafen region in the south. Business has developed much more swiftly since then, and we intend to continue rolling out our services region by region.”
Growth and diversity
As elsewhere, the emphasis in Germany is on building and maintaining close relationships, says Stefanie. “We don’t just want to find the best specialists for a client, we want to understand them completely – what they hope to achieve with a project, but also how their culture works. That way, you can supply the expertise a company needs and a character-match in one. It makes us the ideal partner for both asset owners and contractors – the approach works really well.”
The number of clients is on the increase and the number of specialists likewise. “Just like staff numbers at the office,” Stefanie says. “We aim to keep improving our services, which is why we’re growing. There are 15 of us now, and we’re a very diverse bunch.”
“We have staff and specialists from all walks of life and lots of different countries,” Lars continues. “Just like our clients. You learn so much from each other and as a natural consequence, you reach a higher plane together.”
Work to be done
“Our most important disciplines are engineering and construction,” says Lars. “We get a lot of support from our Dutch and Belgian colleagues on the construction projects.
“Investment levels are very high and the ensuing projects often incredibly interesting. Why? Sheer size, for starters. But their high-tech nature and the important role they play in the energy transition is what usually attracts the best specialists to projects. Popular pressure is on to make Germany greener, but they still have coal-fired power plants up and down the country, so there’s plenty of work to be done.”
Stefanie confirms the big ambitions: “We intend to be right there, hands-on, as Germany goes green. We will grow swiftly, and at the same time maintain our proposition of superior quality.”
Highly recommended for specialists
What’s it like for Dutchman Lars to work in Germany? “I’m originally from Enschede, close to the border, so I became acquainted with the German culture at an early age and I can tell you that the stereotypes are all wrong. Many Dutch people think that the Germans are standoffish, for instance, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Germans enjoy a very open, welcoming culture, and people take pleasure in their work. I really highly recommend Germany to any specialist in the Netherlands or Belgium who wants to broaden their horizon. If you like discovering new people and places, then Germany will definitely keep you busy for a while. And did I mention all the interesting projects going on here?”