The Bank for Entrepreneurs combines corporate and private interests
Adrian Steiner is the CEO and co-owner of the coffee machine manufacturer Thermoplan AG. His own success and that of Thermoplan read like a fairy tale.
Dual advisory approach
Thermoplan is a typical Swiss success story: With creative ideas and a lot of hard work, the SME located on Lake Lucerne developed a coffee machine in the 1990s that attracted the interest of industry giant Starbucks. The current CEO, Adrian Steiner, experienced first hand Thermoplan's entire transformation from small company to global supplier. Credit Suisse was also there from the beginning.
Adrian Steiner is advised by Urs Graber and Ivan Blättler. They are a typical Credit Suisse "Bank for Entrepreneurs" duo. Credit Suisse developed this offer for entrepreneurs like Adrian Steiner. The team consists of a corporate client advisor and a private client advisor (Entrepreneurs & Executives). Why? Because many business owners have a share in the company in addition to their management role. Corporate and private interests are thus often intertwined at many points and require a holistic view. Examples of areas involved include financial planning, tax optimization, pension provision, and investment strategies. The "Bank for Entrepreneurs" meets this need with its dual advisory approach.
A decision with many consequences
Ten years ago, Adrian Steiner was given the opportunity not only to lead the company as CEO, but also to become a shareholder. He recalls: "When I started as customer service manager at Thermoplan in 1997, the company was more than just a simple employer to me. When I became co-owner ten years ago, the implications of this decision were not at all clear to me at that stage." Today it's different: "You're in the same boat as the company, in both good and bad times," says the CEO. Steiner knows what he's talking about.
Strengthened by crisis
Thermoplan is flourishing today, but the financial crisis of 2008 proved to be a difficult time for the up-and-coming SME. Starbucks, the client who had helped Thermoplan grow enormously, suddenly put a large order on hold out of the blue. Because the coffee giant treasured its relationship with the company and did not want to forego Swiss quality, the global corporation consented to giving its small partner on Lake Lucerne just as many orders as it needed to survive. Credit Suisse provided the company with the necessary credit.
"We came out of the crisis stronger. Over the years, we have minimized our risk concentration by building up other business units. However, the global coffee chain remains significant: Soon we're going to start work on another building for the next generation of Starbucks machines," announces Steiner with pride. In order to keep up with global competition in the future as well, digitalized production will be implemented in the new building in the form of fully automated processes.
The bank as a sparring partner
"With a company that has flourished like Thermoplan for several years, questions come up that I would never have imagined before," says Steiner. "My private client advisor Ivan is a little like a coach or sparring partner to me. His core business is investment strategies, but we also talk about all manner of topics concerning pension provision, mortgages, dividends, and tax optimization."
Some questions only affect Steiner and his family, while others are very closely connected to Thermoplan. He very much appreciates the fact that he doesn't have to take care of the coordination himself: "The exchange between Ivan and Urs works perfectly. The two talk about everything and, when necessary, bring in an additional specialist to meet us."
Steiner isn't interested in grappling with financial planning in detail. Instead of studying share performance, he would rather invest time talking with his employees. Those in the research department, for example, where one-fifth of the employees work: "Walking through the lab inspires me. I know my way around here. To me, Urs and Ivan are similarly researchers in their area: They are constantly working on improving our financial solutions. That's a little bit like us, only they don't produce any hot air when they work."