From start-up to leading provider of company solutions for the print and packaging industry
Interview with Ulrich Lauterbach on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of LP.
On the 1st April 2017 Dr. Lauterbach & Partner celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation. Ulrich Lauterbach has taken this as an opportunity to look back at the story of its success and speaks in an interview about the origins, philosophy and customers of this family business, operating successfully worldwide.
The company, Dr. Lauterbach and Partner GmbH, was founded by me and my brother, Dr. Christoph Lauterbach, in 1992. The idea of using standard software, in use in many industries, and applying it also to the print and packaging sector came into being at my previous long-time employer CP Schmidt Packaging. I had played a significant role in the implementation of a new software application and was able to execute the project successfully. The project concerned PPS Software (production planning and scheduling) that also included a module for sales, warehousing, stock control, distribution and purchasing. No significant additional programming took place. This was only possible because the software contained a variant configurator which enabled the mapping of the core business of the packaging industry. The implementation worked well which generated a great deal of interest as no-one had thought it possible. How could it be that a standard industry software that had never been the subject of an implementation specific to the packaging industry could work so well in a company as renowned as CP Schmidt? The answer lay principally in the clever interpretation of the standard software. It was an employee of the software company who suggested that we set up a company to continue this success on our own account. The approach we adopted of taking the solutions and functions of a worldwide market leading provider being used in many industries and to use this as the basis of a sector specific solution and add only the sector specific functions ourselves has been a success to this day.
At the beginning we worked out of a cellar in Homburg- Einöd and in 1993 we took on our first employee, Patrick Oberhausen, who is now our Support and Development Manager. The first project was implemented at Casimir Kast Packaging and Display GmbH in 1993/4. They are still using our solution today. This shows just how stable and long-term the use of an industry standard software as the basis of a sector specific solution is. Back then we worked with ‚Baan 4‘software and came to SAP via a project at Schattdecor, world market leader in décor printing. The decisive factor for their decision making was their conviction that sector specific knowledge was a mandatory requirement for ensuring the successful implementation of standard software. We were able to justify their trust in us and based on this also win further customers.
As a result of our increasing employee numbers we have had to find new offices on multiple occasions and since 2000 our offices have been housed in our own building in Amerikastraße 15 in Zweibrücken.
As the packaging industry comprises mainly small to medium sized firms we also wanted to offer them the possibility of using the business solution provided by the world market leader. We came up with the idea of pre-defining the solution and its settings to the point where an economically viable implementation would be possible for this circle of clients. To date the strategy has successfully achieved its objectives: namely to concentrate on the SAP solution and to pre-define the system as far as is possible and to enhance it with indispensable sector specific solution components. Alongside this small to medium sized company strategy our know-how and solution components are in demand in national and international projects in order to reduce implementation risks and to significantly shorten implementation timeframes.
In the last few years we have developed specific solutions for the printing industry and are gaining customers in the areas of commercial print, online printing, security print and label and leaflet production amongst others. Opportunities to grow in this market are good and digitization under the moto Industry 4.0 is providing us with additional tailwind, even though the print industry is still showing some scepticism towards SAP-based solutions.
This is the same scepticism shown by the packaging industry some 20 years ago – however, taking the SAP approach in this industry today is very widespread. Customers in the printing industry make the highest demands on process optimization and automation and these can only be fulfilled by highly integrated business solutions. Projects are coming increasingly from specialist printers or the area of online printing, whereby the connection of the online shop with SAP is of high importance. Because of this we can now speak of both a print and packaging solution. In every case we look to connect business operating processes with a technical workflow and to this end have developed many different interfaces – this has led to business process automation across the entire value added chain.
Demand continues to grow – by itself from our regular customers – which is why we are looking for good employees. For this reason we are currently trying to increase levels of awareness about our company and to make it attractive as an employer for the very best people. To satisfy our clients we must grow and for this we need a cooperative working culture in which everyone works as one. The foundation of a subsidiary in Rumania, the strengthening of our management capacity and product marketing are measures being implemented to meet these challenges alongside the demanding customer projects that we are working on.
Alongside a working culture based on cooperation and mutual respect, I believe that the long-term customer relationships we have, and that we strive to keep, result from the fairness and honesty with which we treat our customers. It was always my aim that this must be the guiding principle of the company and the one which would achieve long-term success. I am convinced that customers and the sector will be loyal to us for as long as we continue to serve them fairly and to serve them well – simple really.