Interview with Claus Seif: The history of the SUND Group


 

"We saw, that has a future" - Interview with Claus Seif

 

The history of the SUND Group combines tradition, innovation and several companies at once. The stone was set rolling back then by Claus Seif, who has always been involved with packaging in his professional career. How two small rooms in the Deichstraße became a large company, he tells in the interview.

Mr. Seif, your entrepreneurial career began with stencils and signing devices. How did you get from there to the distribution of trash bags?

Claus Seif: That was at a time when everything was shipped in boxes and crates. Containers did not exist at that time. These packages had to be labeled, of course, and stencils were cut out for this purpose. In the USA, there were already machines for this. I thought that was great, and I bought them right away. I was then asked if I would like to sell them in Germany. And so I started my own business. A car, a wife, a small child and very little money.

How did you then come into contact with EMIL DEISS?

He was our neighbor in the Deichstraße. We had to expand our office space, so I asked him if we could take over his rooms. He then offered us the whole company for reasons of age. At that time, DEISS was still dealing in jute sacks. I thought to myself, these are also packaging, so to speak, so we took over the company and continued.

What made you take over the company completely when all you wanted was office space?

At the time, Wolfgang Dede was already co-owner. By chance, we have seen that in the warehouse of DEISS were also blue garbage bags. We saw a product in the bags, which has a future and fits us.

What were the next steps then?

First we packed the bags neatly in boxes of 200. Then we made advertising and sent flyers with response cards by mail. A lot of responses came back with orders, from 200 to 1,000 pieces. We hadn't expected that; it was a great first success. Over the years, we continued with direct mail, but in the end it was no longer enough for our needs. We then decided to concentrate all our efforts on this market.

What did manufacturing look like back then?

Trash bags were only available in simple quality. Large and sturdy garbage bags, on the other hand, were made of multi-layer paper, which made them expensive and weak against moisture. The breakthrough of large plastic garbage bags then came through us. We had the bags produced in an old jute bag factory, they had an open-minded plant manager, and we converted the whole plant to produce blue garbage bags on rolls. This was a first, as the bags were previously only available individually.

What happened next?

DEISS continued to run with great success, because we could win large-scale consumers such as hospitals, municipalities and the wholesale trade as customers with our bags. Along the way, we always kept an eye on the retail sector. We then looked around the industry and bought a then still small company called FIPP who were already retailing with some items of this kind. It was not an easy time looking back. It was hard to get products into retail and very easy to get kicked out of those.

How many employees did you have back then?

Ten, today you would call it a start-up. We were on the right course when we moved from Deichstraße to Kreuzbrook. Then the new building in Lademannbogen was a big leap. At the end of the nineties, Martin Klostermann then joined the company, by which time we already had 40 employees.

What did your collaboration with Wolfgang Dede look like?

We complemented each other very well. He is rather the numbers man and I was at the front. Ultimately, this successful collaboration was the key to our success.