office supplies & service from a single source
How did you go about becoming self-employed?
I learned the trade of a maintenance mechanic for data processing and office machines at Robotron Dresden. Bürotechnik Chemnitz emerged from this company shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1989/90 I started to build up the sales department for the Cottbus area together with other colleagues.
From then on I was employed as a salesman on a commission basis. Since we, as employees of the former Robotron company, knew many companies in the area of the former district of Cottbus and far beyond this border, we achieved an enormous turnover month after month. I conducted all negotiations with suppliers on my own, went to the relevant trade fairs and thus bought directly for Cottbus. Understandably, the management wanted to centralise purchasing for Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg in order to obtain better conditions from the manufacturers. So I had to order the goods from the head office in Chemnitz. The delivery time of 3-4 days was extended to 14-31 days. That did not work at all. The turnover collapsed and I only got my basic salary. When I complained about the long delivery times, I got the answer: “Then take over the company!” I replied, “Immediately, but with 5 people.” I was supposed to take over 28 employees. That would have been the certain end of self-employment. I resigned and started the leap into self-employment in March 1992. At that time, I lived at 157 Spremberger Str. The Konsum below our flat had closed. So I applied for these premises at the housing association. I got the tenancy agreement on the condition that I would also sell food in the area. A lot of money went into the renovation work until we finally opened the shopping corner in Noßdorf. At that time it had the character of a corner shop. At the same time, the drop shipment of office supplies was going on from the very beginning. For the most part, the customers’ orders were delivered directly from the manufacturer to them, or the goods came to me on the farm, were put together and personally delivered.
When the house was signed over to the previous owner at the end of the 1990s, the rent jumped and repair work was no longer carried out. So I looked around for new premises. I found a converted garage complex at Otto-Nagel-Straße 6 and started a warehouse sale there. After a few years, the major customers such as Deutsche Bahn and the Cottbus city administration fell away. I needed many new customers. After long and tough negotiations about the rent for the business premises at Bahnhofstraße 66, I moved in.
A few years later, I bought the company “MB Das Büro” and hired its technician. An excellent man for whom work and hobby are one and the same. So I could expand the service and bring more stability into the company. Service is an important pillar, almost more important than trade. Service is also in great demand nowadays, because you can hardly buy it on the internet.
What is particularly troubling you?
It is not always true that office supplies can be bought much cheaper at discounters and on the internet. But the reputation that small shops are expensive is one reason why many people don’t even dare to visit a small specialist shop. Of course, we don’t get the articles at the same conditions as the big ones, but we have the chance to talk to the customer, to offer him goods that suit him exactly. An example: a printer might cost 10 – 15 € less on the internet. Many of the customers do not look at what the Maintenance costs. We advise so that these bad purchases do not happen. So for every buyer, the few euros they may have paid more with me often pay off with the first purchase of the consumables.
What does Forst mean to you?
Forst is my hometown, I was born here, I had a fantastic childhood here, most of my family lives here. I also feel comfortable in the community of members of our church.
How long do you plan to run your business?
There is no exact date yet. Health permitting, I will be seen here for a long time. Of course, I am actively looking for a successor, because it would be a pity if a life’s work that has grown close to my heart would simply disappear. Unfortunately, there is no one in my family who can take over.
If you could wish for something from the city, what would it be?
I know that the city has to be very economical with the money it has. I have expressed the wish several times that parking facilities should be created on the post office side of Berliner Straße so that traders have a chance to survive with their businesses there. Unfortunately, nothing has happened there. On the other hand, it would be nice if more administrative staff, whether city or district, would make more use of the services offered by Forster’s tradespeople. But I also count every single citizen as part of the city. Working together moves us forward and creates jobs, not penny-pinching and stinginess.
03149 Forst (Lausitz)
Saturday: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Parcel shop (DPD)