Lucas and Tom Baumann may be brothers, but the two couldn’t be more different. One is strategic and level-headed, the other is creative and communicative. Nevertheless, they share a common goal: to successfully continue their father’s legacy. In this interview, they discuss their brotherly relationship, the big shoes they have to fill and the future generation of the company.
Tom Baumann, at the start of May, you and your brother took over from your father as the majority shareholders of RAUSCH AG KREUZLINGEN. What does this decision mean in concrete terms? Will you be taking on new tasks and responsibilities?
Our father’s success story is unique. He has made the company into one of the biggest employers in the Kreuzlingen region and established RAUSCH as a strong brand in a highly competitive environment. I’m delighted to be able to continue his success story together with my brother. Playing an active role in the strategic decisions of the company is already very important to me. The fact that the time has come to take full responsibility for it is simply a part of life. It’s something I’ve been particularly aware of since the birth of my own two children.
Lucas Baumann, your role as CEO means that you come across RAUSCH employees around the building on a regu-lar basis. But not everyone will have met your brother yet. How would you describe him?
We’re proud to be a family business – it means that everybody knows one another. Most people will have seen my brother at the Christmas meal or in the band ‘Bliss’. We complement each other brilliantly, as my younger brother has different strengths and often an entirely different perspective to me, so we can work together to find the most effective solutions. He’s always there to offer me advice and support – that’s something I really appreciate about him. His distinguishing qualities are his unique interpersonal skills, creativity and winning charm.
And what qualities set your older brother apart?
Tom: Unlike me, my brother is more of a quiet, calm type. His key strength is his consistent ability to see the big picture and to move forward with courage and vision, but always in a precise and carefully considered way.
Who tends to come out on top in your discussions?
Lucas: We don’t see ourselves as rivals competing against each other – we want to work together. We work so well to-gether precisely because of our differences – we complement each other! Except perhaps when it comes to politics – we have different views there. But wherever the work on the Board of Directors is concerned, we’re confident in our ability to work it out together and to devise solutions with reasonable compromises. The company was handed down to the next generation during a time of great change and upheaval, and not just because of the coronavirus crisis. RAUSCH itself is in the process of rejuvenating its brand image on all channels and tapping into a younger target audience.
What do you think about the changes currently under way at RAUSCH?
Tom: Longterm planning and thinking ahead is in our company’s DNA. At RAUSCH, it’s not about maximising our profit in the short term. We are currently reaping the benefits of our stable position and we’re certainly able to view the crisis as an opportunity for further development. The market and customer buying behaviour have changed considerably. The world of social media has a lot to offer in this situation. For example, with its new shop system, the RAUSCH website is taking advantage of all the possibilities of shoppable social commerce. This involves linking social media posts to the shop so that users can add products straight to their basket via the website.
Lucas: Our customers have grown with the brand. If we want to ensure that we still have customers in 20 years, we need to start aiming for a younger target audience. It’ll be hard work to pull off this change, but we have a sensational team driving it forward with a great deal of expertise and enthusiasm.
Lucas Baumann, RAUSCH is a family business with 130 years of history behind it, founded by Josef Wilhelm Rausch, expanded by your grandfather and continued by your father. Those are big shoes to fill. Do you feel a lot of pressure to keep running the company successfully in future?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt a close connection to the company. I grew up with my father discussing the business with us over lunch. You could say that RAUSCH is almost like another sibling to us. The French director François Truffaut once said, ‘You’ll never overtake someone by treading in his footsteps.’ So I don’t feel any pressure. My goal is to stay true to the RAUSCH philosophy and to ensure our brand stands out thanks to its high-quality, effective and Swissmade products. After all, we have over a century’s experience in extracting natural active ingredients from hand-picked herbs, using special in-house methods to harness this treasure for our customers. Our brand is unique and unmistakable, thanks to the best raw materials and production methods. And environmental sustainability is in our DNA. We will align the RAUSCH brand even more closely with the needs of our target groups and will lead the company into the digital age.
What about your own children? Will they, too, take over the family business someday?
Tom: We want to give our children the freedom to decide whether or not to join the company, just like our father did with us. But running or supporting a company requires particular skills, not just those of a strategic nature. There’s more to it than simply being the owner’s son. But of course, if our children wanted to join the company, we’d gladly give them the opportunity.
Lucas: There are four key requirements for the next generation to succeed: ability – drive – support – action. So if our children are willing and able, we will of course support them in taking over the company themselves someday.
What do you think RAUSCH will look like when, at the age of say 70, you yourself hand it over to the next generation?
Lucas: The most important thing is to ‘let go’ at the right time. As a patron, you need to trust that ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘worse’. This also means allowing successors to experience management for themselves and make mistakes along the way – you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. Regardless of that, my successor will always be able to count on my passion for the company and a certain level of basic trust. They should be able to take over a healthy business and continue to run it in line with the RAUSCH philosophy.