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JUMBO-Textil production © JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG

JUMBO-Textil: "For us, leadership means team development."

With its high-quality technical narrow textiles, JUMBO-Textil stands for high-tech - whether woven, braided or knitted. As an elastic specialist and solution partner, the company develops and produces individual innovations for customers worldwide. The 70-strong team must be as diverse and flexible as the products it designs. Textination spoke to industrial engineer Carl Mrusek about the current challenges facing family businesses. Carl Mrusek, who has been Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at Textation Group GmbH & Co. KG, to which JUMBO-Textil belongs, for almost a year now, is in charge of strategic corporate development as well as other areas of responsibility.


With its high-quality technical narrow textiles, JUMBO-Textil stands for high-tech - whether woven, braided or knitted. As an elastic specialist and solution partner, the company develops and produces individual innovations for customers worldwide. The 70-strong team must be as diverse and flexible as the products it designs. Textination spoke to industrial engineer Carl Mrusek about the current challenges facing family businesses. Carl Mrusek, who has been Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at Textation Group GmbH & Co. KG, to which JUMBO-Textil belongs, for almost a year now, is in charge of strategic corporate development as well as other areas of responsibility.


"In a family business, tradition is the foundation, innovation is the way forward," they say. The image of family-run companies has changed significantly in recent years - old-fashioned values and outdated business concepts have given way to a strong corporate culture, a strong sense of regional responsibility and sustainable planning. How does JUMBO-Textil combine its corporate values and traditions with a contemporary management style?

Carl Mrusek: As a family business, there is a close bond between the employees and the company and vice versa; the continuity of human relationships is important and valuable. JUMBO-Textil also has a tradition of one thing in particular: contemporary corporate management, both technically and professionally, as well as in terms of management style and values. Especially in a family business, which is often managed by the same person for decades, it is crucial to question corporate values and management style and to promote change. A company that has been operating successfully internationally for almost 115 years must be adaptable. For us, reacting quickly to changes, even anticipating them and moving forward accordingly, is at the heart of smart business practices. The specialization in elastics in the 1920s is an example of the foresighted power of change, as is the strategically important turn to technical textiles in the 1970s. A recent example is the merger with vombaur under the umbrella of the Textation Group.

The most important thing in any company is its employees. We would not be able to attract and retain them with outdated traditions and working methods. For us, the focus is not on the company management, but on joint success, and in a complex world, this is usually the result of successful cooperation and not an announcement from the boss. Leadership clearly means setting and pursuing strategic goals, but today it also means team development. Finding the best people, bringing them together and motivating them to achieve the goal.


Team spirit and vision development: How do you achieve this at JUMBO-Textil?

Carl Mrusek: As a team! JUMBO-Textil has systematically expanded its management team. In addition to the Managing Director, our CEO Andreas Kielholz, the Chief Operational Officer Patrick Kielholz, the Chief Financial Officer Ralph Cammerath, the Chief Technology Officer Dr. Sven Schöfer and myself as Chief Sales Officer work here. This shows that we are convinced of the idea of cooperation: We also work together on corporate development and strategic issues. The same applies to the individual teams - in organizational specialist teams or in interdisciplinary project teams. The tasks for which we are responsible may be different, but each is equally important.


Is that why you start the introduction of contact persons on your website with the Junior Sales Manager? And the C-level representatives are at the end?

Carl Mrusek: Yes, all JUMBO-Textil heads are the head of the company for us. All JUMBO-Textil faces represent the company. This is also reflected in the order of the contact persons on the website. Visitors should be able to quickly find the person who can help them and not find out who runs the company. That's what the legal notice is for. (laughs)


What is JUMBO-Textil's mission statement and vision for the future, and what needs to change in order to achieve this vision?

Carl Mrusek: We are currently working on the strategic direction of the Textation Group, which JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG and vombaur GmbH & Co. KG are part of. In this context, we have developed the Group's corporate vision and mission and updated our mission statement. This serves as a foundation for strategy development and is only sustainable if employees are involved in this process through surveys and workshops. I don't want to give too much away yet, but this much is already clear: strong teams, the right people in the right place, taking responsibility at all levels, sustainability as the basis for innovation - these will be the four cornerstones. You can already see from this: To achieve our vision, we cannot flip a switch. We must always remain open to change, always new - from product development to personnel recruitment. But as I said, we have a tradition of doing this.


JUMBO-Textil is not an industry specialist, but combines expertise for demanding high-tech narrow textiles. Who is in charge of challenging customer projects - do you decide in a team or rather top-down, where is the responsibility for an order placed?

Carl Mrusek: As a team, we decide which projects to implement and how to prioritize them. The corporate strategy determines the "direction of travel". In addition to the sales side, the development side of new projects also plays a decisive role. I therefore coordinate intensively with Dr. Sven Schöfer (CTO) and his team, as the focus here is on the technical development and implementation of our products. In the end, project processing is always a team effort between Sales and Development in close cooperation with Production..


Between above-standard pay, a 4-day week and the much-vaunted work-life balance in the current situation on the job market, companies are more likely to be in the position of applicants than vice versa. What are you doing to remain attractive as an employer for new colleagues? And how do you keep the enthusiasm of your skilled employees at a consistently high level?

Carl Mrusek: An important approach for us is education. Training young people and proving to them during their apprenticeship: JUMBO-Textil is your place to be. We therefore already start recruiting skilled workers through our school visits and school internships. As a state-of-the-art company, we offer an attractive salary level and a pleasant and healthy working environment.

Applicants today also often want to organize their working hours and work arrangements individually and flexibly, for a variety of reasons. With modern working models and thanks to our ongoing progress in digitalization, we support them wherever possible. People also want to work for a company that they can identify with. Environmental and climate protection are just as important to our employees and applicants as social standards in our supply chain. The fact that we have set ourselves ambitious goals with our sustainability strategy and are consistently pursuing them with firmly scheduled steps - our climate-neutral energy generation is a concrete example that has already been implemented. Furthermore, we vigorously encourage our business partners to respect human and employee rights and are committed to the Code of Conduct of the German textile and fashion industry. All of this helps us to recruit staff.


What larger, more capital-intensive companies can partially make up for with financial resources, SMEs have to manage through agility and adaptability - especially in situations of crisis. To what extent are these requirements also reflected in your organizational structure and the requirements profile for employees?

Carl Mrusek: Exactly, that is the advantage that family businesses have over large corporations: We can make decisions quickly and react on a daily basis if necessary. Hierarchies are flat and coordination processes are short. An exciting suggestion doesn't have to be prepared by agencies and coordinated across several levels before it is approved by the management and can be implemented. The go-ahead can also come immediately over lunch: "Great idea, we'll do it." In a corporate group, this fails because only very few employees have the opportunity to have lunch with the management. - And we only talk about business in exceptional cases. Most of the time, the break is about family, the weather, sports and leisure plans - lunch topics, in other words. - We need responsible team players who are willing to make a change. People who work with others on an equal footing, who are committed to the company and its goals with drive and expertise and who are keen to try new things.


It now takes much more than a fruit basket and a gym to motivate current and potential employees. Working in a meaningful way and participating in a climate-friendly transformation is particularly important to many people. What does JUMBO-Textil do specifically to not just quote SDGs in a statement, but to live them in everyday company life?

Carl Mrusek: We have set ourselves a specific climate target: By 2035, our administrative and production operations at our headquarters will be climate-neutral. Realistic steps have been defined to achieve this. We have already achieved an important interim goal: at our headquarters in Sprockhövel, we only use green electricity from the sun, wind and water. We offset the unavoidable emissions for our heat generation with CO2 compensation services. We are also developing more and more products from recyclable and recycled materials. Our vehicle fleet is currently being converted to purely electric or hybrid models.


Diversification and internationalization are part of every corporate strategy these days. But what do these terms mean for the management style of a medium-sized company in Sprockhövel? Do you consciously build interdisciplinary international teams?

Carl Mrusek: We live in a hyper-diverse society. This is also reflected in our company. Our teams consist of people with different international backgrounds, without us having to actively control this. The age structure is now also very mixed. We see the different perspectives as an asset, an opportunity and a success factor. We - and that ultimately means our customers and their projects - benefit from the variety of perspectives that flow into our solutions. As with many companies in the technical textiles sector, the proportion of women in some teams is still somewhat unbalanced. However, it is fortunately increasing steadily.


Generational change and succession planning are core issues for family-run companies. How important is it for JUMBO-Textil to professionalize its management team and to what extent is the company open to external specialists and managers?

Carl Mrusek: A company that closes its doors to external specialists and managers is also closing a door to success. That would be foolish. At JUMBO-Textil, we try to combine and balance the close ties, personal continuity and flexibility of a family-run company, the passion and innovative spirit of a start-up and the solidity and financial strength of a group. With Patrick Kielholz as COO, the next generation of the family is represented at management level, as is the external view and the diversity of perspectives provided by the other new members at C-level. The Textation Group, which also includes Patrick Kielholz's brother Kevin Kielholz, supports the company and enables it to think and act bigger than medium-sized family businesses often do. JUMBO-Textil is an elastic specialist. And what distinguishes our product also distinguishes us as an organization. We span the advantages of a family business as well as those of a start-up and a group. If I may use the image of elasticity here and not stretch it too far. (laughs)

Carbon U Profil (c) vombaur GmbH & Co. KG

"After all, a spaceship is not made off the peg."

Interview with vombaur - pioneers in special textiles
Technical narrow textiles, custom solutions, medium-sized textile producer and development partner for filtration textiles, composite textiles and industrial textiles: vombaur. Digitalisation, sustainability, energy prices, pioneering work and unbroken enthusiasm – Textination spoke to two passionate textile professionals: Carl Mrusek, Chief Sales Officer (CSO), and Johannes Kauschinger, Sales Manager for Composites and Industrial Textiles, at vombaur GmbH, which, as well as JUMBO-Textil, belongs to the Textation Group.

Interview with vombaur - pioneers in special textiles
Technical narrow textiles, custom solutions, medium-sized textile producer and development partner for filtration textiles, composite textiles and industrial textiles: vombaur. Digitalisation, sustainability, energy prices, pioneering work and unbroken enthusiasm – Textination spoke to two passionate textile professionals: Carl Mrusek, Chief Sales Officer (CSO), and Johannes Kauschinger, Sales Manager for Composites and Industrial Textiles, at vombaur GmbH, which, as well as JUMBO-Textil, belongs to the Textation Group.
If you look back at your history and thus to the beginnings of the 19th century, you will see a ribbon manufactory and, from 1855, a production of silk and hat bands. Today you produce filtration textiles, industrial textiles and composites textiles. Although you still produce narrow textiles today, the motto "Transformation as an opportunity" seems to be a lived reality at vombaur.
Carl Mrusek, Chief Sales Officer: Yes, vombaur has changed a few times in its almost 220-year history.  Yet the company has always remained true to itself as a narrow textiles manufacturer. This testifies to the willingness of the people in the company to change and to their curiosity. Successful transformation is a joint development, there is an opportunity in change. vombaur has proven this many times over the past almost 220 years: We have adapted our product portfolio to new times, we have built new factory buildings and new machinery, we have introduced new materials and developed new technologies, we have entered into new partnerships – as most recently as part of the Textation Group. We are currently planning our new headquarters. We are not reinventing ourselves, but we will go through a kind of transformation process with the move into the brand new, climate-friendly high-tech space.


Could you describe the challenges of this transformation process?
Johannes Kauschinger, Sales Manager for Composites and Industrial Textiles: A transformation usually takes place technically, professionally, organisationally and not least – perhaps even first and foremost – culturally. The technical challenges are obvious. Secondly, in order to manage and use the new technologies, appropriate expertise is needed in the company. Thirdly, every transformation entails new processes, teams and procedures have to be adapted. And finally, fourthly, the corporate culture also changes. Technology can be procured, expertise acquired, the organisation adapted. Time, on the other hand, cannot be bought. I therefore consider the greatest challenge to be the supply of human resources: In order to actively shape the transformation and not be driven by development, we need sufficient skilled workers.


Visiting your website, the claim "pioneering tech tex" immediately catches the eye. Why do you see your company as a pioneer, and what are vombaur's groundbreaking or pioneering innovations?

Carl Mrusek: With our unique machine park, we are pioneers for seamless circular woven textiles. And as a development partner, we break new ground with every order. We are always implementing new project-specific changes: to the end products, to the product properties, to the machines. It happens regularly that we adapt a weaving machine for a special seamless woven shaped textile, sometimes even develop a completely new one.
With our young, first-class and growing team for Development and Innovation led by Dr. Sven Schöfer, we repeatedly live up to our promise of "pioneering tech tex" by developing special textile high-tech solutions with and for our customers. At the same time, we actively explore new potentials. Most recently with sustainable materials for lightweight construction and research into novel special filtration solutions, for example for the filtration of microplastics. A state-of-the-art textile technology laboratory is planned for this team in the new building.


The development of technical textiles in Germany is a success story. From a global perspective, we manage to succeed with mass-produced goods only in exceptional cases. How do you assess the importance of technical textiles made in Germany for the success of other, especially highly technological industries?

Carl Mrusek: We see the future of industry in Europe in individually developed high-tech products. vombaur stands for high-quality, reliable and durable products and made-to-order products. And it is precisely this – custom-fit products, instead of surplus and throwaway goods – that is the future for sustainable business in general.


What proportion of your production is generated by being project-based as opposed to a standard range, and to what extent do you still feel comfortable with the term "textile producer"?

Johannes Kauschinger: Our share of special solutions amounts to almost 90 percent. We develop technical textile solutions for our customers' current projects. For this purpose, we are in close contact with the colleagues from our customers' product development departments. Especially in the field of composite textiles, special solutions are in demand. This can be a component for space travel – after all, a spaceship is not manufactured off the peg. We also offer high-quality mass-produced articles, for example in the area of industrial textiles, where we offer round woven tubulars for conveyor belts. In this sense, we are a textile producer, but more than that: we are also a textile developer.


In August, Composites Germany presented the results of its 21st market survey. The current business situation is viewed very critically, the investment climate is becoming gloomier and future expectations are turning negative. vombaur also has high-strength textile composites made of carbon, aramid, glass and hybrids in its portfolio. Do you share the assessment of the economic situation as reflected in the survey?

Carl Mrusek: We foresee a very positive development for vombaur because we develop in a very solution-oriented way and offer our customers genuine added value. This is because future technologies in particular require individual, reliable and lightweight components. This ranges from developments for the air taxi to wind turbines. Textiles are a predestined material for the future. The challenge here is also to offer sustainable and recyclable solutions with natural raw materials such as flax and recycled and recyclable plastics and effective separation technologies.


There is almost no company nowadays that does not use the current buzzwords such as climate neutrality, circular economy, energy efficiency and renewable energies. What is your company doing in these areas and how do you define the importance of these approaches for commercial success?

Carl Mrusek: vombaur pursues a comprehensive sustainability strategy. Based on the development of our mission statement, we are currently working on a sustainability declaration. Our responsibility for nature will be realised in a very concrete and measurable way through our new building with a green roof and solar system. In our product development, the high sustainability standards – our own and those of our customers – are already flowing into environmentally friendly and resource-saving products and into product developments for sustainable projects such as wind farms or filtration plants.


Keyword digitalisation: medium-sized businesses, to which vombaur belongs with its 85 employees, are often scolded for being too reluctant in this area. How would you respond to this accusation?

Johannes Kauschinger:

We often hear about the stack crisis at the present time. Based on this, we could speak of the stack transformation. We, the small and medium-sized enterprises, are transforming ourselves in a number of different dimensions at the same time: Digital transformation, climate neutrality, skilled labour market and population development, independence from the prevailing supply chains. We are capable of change and willing to change. Politics and administration could make it a bit easier for us in some aspects. Key words: transport infrastructure, approval times, energy prices. We do everything we can on our side of the field to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises remain the driving economic force that they are.



How do you feel about the term shortage of skilled workers? Do you also take unconventional paths to find and retain talent and skilled workers in such a specialised industry? Or does the problem not arise?

Carl Mrusek: Of course, we are also experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, especially in the industrial sector. But the development was foreseeable. The topic played a major role in the decision to move together with our sister company JUMBO-Textil under the umbrella of the Textation Group. Recruiting and promoting young talent can be better mastered together – for example with cross-group campaigns and cooperations.


If you had to describe a central personal experience that has shaped your attitude towards the textile industry and its future, what would it be?

Johannes Kauschinger: A very good friend of my family pointed out to me that we live in an area with a very active textile industry, which at the same time has problems finding young talents. I visited two companies for an interview and already on the tour of each company, the interaction of people, machines and textiles up to the wearable end product was truly impressive. In addition, I was able to learn a profession with a very strong connection to everyday life. To this day, I am fascinated by the wide range of possible uses for textiles, especially in technical applications, and I have no regrets whatsoever about the decision I made back then.

Carl Mrusek: I came into contact with the world of textiles and fashion at a young age. I still remember the first time I went through the fully integrated textile production of a company in Nordhorn with my father Rolf Mrusek. Since then, the subject has never left me. Even before I started my studies, I had made a conscious decision to pursue a career in this industry and to this day I have never regretted it, on the contrary. The diversity of the special solutions developed in the Textation Group fascinates me again and again.


vombaur is a specialist for seamless round and shaped woven narrow textiles and is known throughout the industry as a development partner for filtration textiles, composite textiles and industrial textiles made of high-performance fibres. Technical narrow textiles from vombaur are used for filtration – in the food and chemical industries, among others. As high-performance composite materials, they are used, for example, in aircraft construction or medical technology. For technical applications, vombaur develops specially coated industrial textiles for insulation, reinforcement or transport in a wide range of industrial processes – from precision mechanics to the construction industry. The Wuppertal-based company was founded in 1805. The company currently employs 85 people.


  • Aviation & Automotive
  • Sports & Outdoor   
  • Construction & Water Management
  • Safety & Protection   
  • Chemistry & Food
  • Plant construction & electronics   
  • Medicine & Orthopaedics


(c) JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG. CEO Andreas Kielholz (r.) and Business Development Manager Patrick Kielholz in the state-of-the-art production facility of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG.

JUMBO-Textil – Innovative Narrow Textiles redefined

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.

The history of today's company "JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG" goes back to the last millennium. Founded in 1909 in Wuppertal, you have moved beyond the production of pure yard goods for the lingerie industry and are now a demanded competence partner for high-tech solutions for narrow textiles. Which industries do you focus on when developing your technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil focuses on particular competences in the field of narrow textiles and not on specific industries. We produce narrow fabrics, narrow braids and knitted fabrics. In these three fields we bring out our special competences: Elastics, individual solutions and individually fabricated elements in combination with non-textile components. There is, of course, a long-standing intensive cooperation with customers from the automotive industry, for example. In this sense, JUMBO-Textil is also an "interior expert". However, this does not imply a focus on a specific industry. Quite the opposite: We are very broadly positioned in terms of industries. New sectors are opening up all the time; most recently, we supplied the toy industry with textiles specially developed for babies and toddlers. We also supplied the medical technology sector with narrow-textile solutions in form of skin-friendly elastics.

Speaking of Elastics - how did the specialization come about?

Patrick Kielholz: The specialization in elastic narrow textiles began as early as the 1920s. In our entrance area you can see one of the first specialized braiding machines that was purchased for this purpose. It is about 100 years old. A landmark decision: It made the step from apparel textiles to technical textiles, which - many years later – became essential for survival, if not possible, then at least considerably easier.

What characterizes elastics? Why is the property so important for technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: Technical textiles, as well known, are textiles that are developed for a specific technical function. They have to, if you like, be capable of doing something: securing a load, sealing an opening, protecting from heat ... Many of these industrial functions can only be accomplished with elastic textiles - from applications in aircraft construction to protective suits for divers and to textiles in medicine. It is often the specific, highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratio that makes use in such extreme, highly demanding applications possible. Innovative fibers are manufactured and finished by us on highly modern, digitally controlled equipment. In this way, we achieve highest precision and safety in the elongation properties and and produce a textile high-tech product with high-performance fibers for extreme, often individually requested technical applications.

And what does your product portfolio look like for your customers as a whole?

Patrick Kielholz: The spectrum ranges from woven tapes and belts to braided tape, tubular braids and braided cords to nets - in all widths, made from numerous raw materials and with specific, even demanding properties, special features and fabrications. As a solution partner, we often guide our customers from the initial idea to the finished product.
The importance of narrow textiles as components is growing visibly. Since they are very light, very efficient and at the same time very quiet, they are being used more frequently as an alternative to components made of other materials. The demands placed on the textiles are growing with their tasks: Their specifications are becoming increasingly more precise, the tolerances increasingly tighter. In the automotive sector and in protective equipment, for example, fire safety requirements play an important role. Therefore, we only have success with narrow textiles that are permanently flame retardant. We are currently addressing many inquiries for fitness bands with highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratios. We are also responding to the sustainability question with our portfolio: We are increasingly working on projects with recycled materials or recyclable products. This development is embedded in a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which we are addressing for the entire Group - also in connection with the new planning of our sister company vombaur GmbH & Co KG.

What has particularly influenced the company's development process of about 110 years? Were there any significant changes of direction or decisions?

Andreas Kielholz: In the 1970s, we broadened our range enormously by no longer producing technical narrow textiles only for the apparel industry, but for all industries. At the same time, we continued to specialize - in elastics. This is not a contradiction: We implement what we are particularly good at, however, for all industries.
In the recent history of the company, we made a strong push with our new building in 2016. Optimal production conditions were created. With a variety of new production plants, we are at the advanced level of technology and high production capacity. The environment also has an effect on our team. You can feel that people enjoy working here. At the beginning of 2019, we again set an important strategic course when we combined our competencies with vombaur GmbH & Co KG under the umbrella of Textation Group GmbH & Co. KG.

These two traditional companies for demanding high-tech narrow textiles will remain independent as companies and brands. Why did you decide to take this step, what is the market response and what can you recommend to other producers in terms of partnerships?

Andreas Kielholz: We have had very good experiences as a sister company: Knowledge transfer, trade show appearances, digitization workshops - the partnership is beneficial in many ways. But - unlike in real life - we were able to choose our sister. The partner companies have to be compatible. Sure, you have to pay attention to that. They should have things in common without doing exactly the same thing. Because if they are too similar, there is a risk of competition, even cannibalization of one of the brands.
Our construct is perceived by our market companions as a good and elegant solution. We could serve as a role model for one or the other. Perhaps we will also expand our circle in the next few year, which we are open to. And our move has also been well received by our customers. In addition to all the other positive effects, succession issues can also be solved more easily in the Group. We are thereby demonstrating future prospects and security.

In the medium-sized textile industry, companies were and still are shaped by people - founding personalities, owners, families who live and breathe textile tradition and innovation. In your opinion, what qualities do people need to have in order to be successful in our niche-oriented German industry?

Andreas Kielholz: Successful and formative are people with curiosity and drive. People who like to explore new territories, first in their thinking and then consistently in their implementation. You should be able to inspire others in these explorations. In addition, you should keep a close eye on the market and act accordingly, i.e., constantly questioning the status quo. Self-criticism is therefore also important: Is our path still the right one? Are we fulfilling our aspirations? To move forward as a company, you have to work tirelessly not only in, but also on the company.    

Patrick Kielholz: The important thing is to recognize change and see it as an opportunity, not as a threat. I fully agree with that. However, I would strongly question the idea that it is the one founder, the one owner, and therefore individual people who make a company successful. We live in a very complex and fast-paced world that cannot be overseen and comprehended by a single person. Don't get me wrong, great ideas can come from individuals and help a company succeed. But we can't rely on that. A company today must be managed in such a way that ideas are developed by divergent teams. An environment must be created that gives each person the opportunity to make a difference. A leader must therefore understand how to develop functioning teams.

Mr. Kielholz Snr., you are the managing partner of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG and one of the managing directors of vombaur GmbH & Co KG. For about two years now, you have your son Patrick at your side as Business Development Manager of JUMBO-Textil. How did that come about? Did you encourage your son to follow in your footsteps?

Andreas Kielholz: Not explicitly. My sons - there's also Kevin, Patrick's brother - had a lot of freedom in their childhood and youth. It was always up to them how they wanted to live their lives. During their school education and their studies, I tried to support everything in a trusting manner. Education has a lot to do with leading by example. I always had a lot of joy in what I did, even if it wasn't always easy. They witnessed this joy every day - and so I may have implicitly encouraged them.  
The fact that Patrick is now part of the team, performing a very good job and already bears a lot of responsibility - of course I'm very happy about that. He is a good, trustworthy corrective for me, because he can do some things better than I can. There is a high chance that Kevin will also join us after completing his technical studies.

Mr. Kielholz Jr., you completed your studies with a master's thesis on family businesses. How do you assess the future of family businesses in a global textile industry in general? And where do you see JUMBO-Textil here?

Patrick Kielholz: Family businesses are usually employers that retain their employees for a long time - by providing a family-like working environment and a corporate culture that creates trust. These include values that are important to the younger generations. Status symbols are becoming less important. This can create a working environment in which highly innovative and flexible work can be done - if it is not prevented by an overly patriarchal structure. Family businesses can usually still work on this. We are trying to create such an innovation-friendly environment in the Textation Group with JUMBO-Textil and vombaur, and in this way to be the best solution partner for narrow textiles in the future.

You manufacture exclusively in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to benefit from lower wage levels in other countries?

Andreas Kielholz: We position ourselves as a highly qualified solutions partner and aim to provide our customers with excellent expertise in the field of narrow textiles. We can do this best in a country with very good education and training opportunities, which for us, is Germany as a location. Of course, we also work in close cooperation with partners in Eastern Europe.

Customized instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization up to batch size 1 takes up a lot of space today. At the new site in Sprockhövel, you have invested significantly in innovative production technology. What is your opinion of individual product solutions, and in which areas of application have you already implemented them successfully?
Andreas Kielholz: We don't produce tailored suits; we produce goods by the meter. Batch size 1 - this has a special meaning for us: We develop in exchange with our customers for one project - a car seat in an off-road vehicle, a crab on a crane, an exoskeleton, a baby grab ring, whatever - so we develop a textile component for this one project. Individually specified for the particular concrete application and its requirements - for example, with regard to elongation, temperature resistance, skin-friendliness, etc. All the properties of the textile are configured individually. And then it is produced in the required quantity. This is definitely a customized solution. So; if the customer project is the tailored suit, then "individualization up to batch size 1" is our day-to-day business. Because that's what we do.

What does it take for such solutions?

Patrick Kielholz: A close exchange is important for such individual solutions, but also precise industry knowledge and knowledge of the applicable standards. We assist some customers all the way to product registration and advice on technical delivery conditions and documentation. For individual solutions, know-how and experience go far beyond technical textile expertise. The key basis here is to understand the customer's product, the manufacturing process and its purpose. We want to offer a complete solution that provides the greatest value for the respective client company. This starts with the selection of the raw material and ends with the use by the end consumers..

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and therefore also having the courage to fail. Not each project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad you made?

Andreas Kielholz: The courageous decisions to reconstruct JUMBO-Textil, the corporate alliance with vombaur and the planned new building here are among them - and: having my son on the Executive Board. He brings a new, different perspective to the company, which enriches us enormously. In addition, I simply enjoy it. Who sees their grown-up children every day?

Patrick Kielholz: Yes, that took courage to fail. (laughs) Seriously, not every result of a decision can be dated as firmly as the commissioning of our new building. We are right in the middle of some processes. We started digitization early on, for example, and it will certainly never be completed. It has an infinite number of facets - from materials management to product development, from quality assurance to internal and external processes. It’s an unbelievably dynamic topic that is constantly evolving and opening up new potential for improvement. You need smart people who want to work as a team to advance the issues, otherwise you'll be lagging behind instead of moving forward. The same applies to sustainability - also a topic that must be viewed as an opportunity rather than an unwanted evil, as is so often the case.

Andreas Kielholz: That's the crux of the matter: As a company, it's important not to be driven by such major issues, but to actively drive development forward yourself.

How important is the concept of sustainability in corporate decision-making? Which certifications do you use and where do you go beyond legal requirements?

Andreas Kielholz: Our quality management system is certified according to IATF 16949:2016, an extension of ISO 9001 developed by the automotive industry. We have also been awarded Formula Q-Capability according to the VW Group's customer-specific certification with a score of 95%. In the area of environment and sustainability, we are certified to the environmental management standard ISO 14001:2015, and many of our products meet the OEKO-TEX® Product Class I certificate. In addition, we expressly stand by the claim to enforce human rights, labor, social and ecological standards in economic value-added processes, as formulated in the Code of Conduct of the German Textile and Fashion Industry.

Patrick Kielholz: A specific feature of family businesses becomes apparent here as well. The demands on the company and the values it stands for are much more personal demands. People must and want to be measured against these demands as individuals. They cannot and do not want to hide in the anonymity of stock corporations. A family business owner is also personally connected to the stakeholders of his company and therefore has a stronger interest in pursuing social, environmental and economic sustainability.

How do you judge the efforts of other countries, such as China, to increasingly address the issue of sustainability? Will this mean that an important unique selling point in the comparison between Europe and Asia will be lost in the future?

Andreas Kielholz: The topic of sustainability has not yet reached its peak, in other words: demand will continue to rise here as well. China is getting stronger, but Europe is also working on not losing its pioneering role. Increased demand and competition will benefit us all, especially agile companies.

The COVID19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful and where did you feel left alone?

Andreas Kielholz: By facing up to the challenges early on and - thanks to our timely, multi-layered controlling - always knowing where we stand, we were able to adapt quickly. This is how we have largely come through the crisis well. The newly developed forms of work - mobile working and video conferencing, partly also in-house - will continue to exist. We have also made significant progress in digitalisation and new media.

If you had to introduce your company in 100 words to someone who does not know JUMBO-Textil: What would you say? What makes you unique?

Patrick Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil is a solution partner - our customers are always at the center of our thoughts and actions. For them and their projects, we develop and manufacture sophisticated technical narrow textiles: precise, custom-fit and Made in Germany.

Andreas Kielholz: I don't even need that many words: Highest quality standards, intensive customer relationship, reliability and unique Elastics expertise.

Patrick Kielholz: These were eight. (laughs)

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing partner of Textination GmbH