How does a company reach 30 successful years in business? Many would point to motivation as a driving force, but for the CEO and co-founder of FLEXIM, Jens Hilpert, it’s something a little different. For Hilpert, respect drives motivation. “Motivation is not just about money,” he says. “Motivation is also respect. The most important thing is … that we have to respect the work of everybody in the company.”
By any standards FLEXIM is a successful business. From four founders it’s grown to over 450 employees and established operations in every region of the world. Now, with more than 25% of the global market, FLEXIM is known for high-quality products and technological leadership. So just how did this company grow to become a successful market leader? As we know, sustained success takes more than great products. It’s about the people that make up a company and how they work together. With that in mind, we sat down with Mr. Hilpert recently to talk about the part culture plays in the FLEXIM story.
What Matters at FLEXIM
FLEXIM exists to make things of value, and currently these things are high-quality, technically advanced ultrasonic flowmeters. These flowmeters perform valuable functions for the customers that buy them, helping to conserve resources and improve quality. In this way, FLEXIM manufactures and sells things that serve the common good.
A Focus on Technology
“Our aim is to be the technological leader,” and this clearly has its roots in the very first flowmeter the founders built.
From the outset, their goal was to build not just a better product but the best product. The sophisticated, and proprietary, algorithms they developed are key, but the quality and integrity of the electronics plays a part too. Attention to detail is deeply ingrained in the company culture to ensure every FLEXIM flowmeter delivers exceptionally stable measurements, whatever the fluid or application environment. Speaking of the product focus, Hilpert says, “Our target is to produce the best meter. We are technology-oriented, not sales oriented.”
Staying ahead of competitors demands constant innovation, and this is something Hilpert and his co-founders actively encourage. Those working in R&D are encouraged to spend some of their time pursuing “pet” projects. This, “Time to play,” as Hilpert calls it, is often the source of new ideas and solutions. FLEXIM seeks patent protection for the best of these, with employees receiving due credit and recognition.
It’s also worth noting that, while Hilpert has assumed the Managing Director role his three co-founders still work in R&D. After all these years and a great deal of success, there’s been no letup in the focus on the product!
Respect for Employees and Stakeholders
With customers, establishing a lasting, durable relationship is key. The FLEXIM way is to give customers sound and accurate advice on what they need to solve their problems and improve their processes as this is the only way to build long term relationships. Customers and distributors comment frequently on the outstanding support they receive, so clearly this is working!
When it comes to discussing how people work together within FLEXIM, “Respect” is another word that Hilpert uses a lot, and notes the mutual respect shared by all within the company.
“Teamwork is the key for success,” says Hilpert, and it’s a subject on which he becomes quite animated. Managers are expected to promote teamwork, and every employee is expected to work in a cooperative, team manner.
Showing Employees the Impact of Their Work
Openness, teamwork and mutual support all help provide motivation, but FLEXIM adds something extra. This is to help each employee see the impact of their contribution. It’s done by showing and explaining where and how customers are using their FLEXIM flowmeters. Letting employees see that the products they helped design, develop or assemble supported a NASA project or are part of lifesaving oxygen monitoring systems (especially important these days) shows them the impact they are having with FLEXIM on the world.