Heinrich Schaper: I can still remember our first meeting quite well. Diana was very successful with various products and processes, which is why we bought the company. As a result, our conversation was characterized by a great deal of mutual respect. Jean-Yves and I understood each other from the start. There was the occasional difference of opinion, but we always knew how to reach a consensus.
Dr. Jean-Yves Parisot: I was very impressed with how well the merger went and with the extensive know-how of our new colleagues. We found a good way to communicate with each other from the beginning, and despite the differences in culture that exist between a German and a French company, we easily found a common language based on shared values.
HS: When one company acquires another, the acquiring company often tries to force its own processes on their newly acquired partner. Integration is often seen as a matter of standardized procedures, which is wrong. Instead, we made sure that everyone knew what they were contributing and how each side could benefit from the other.
JYP: That’s exactly how we experienced it. It was about developing a mindset that wasn’t merely German-French, but that of a global company that doesn’t lose sight of individual cultures.
JYP: We had a series of synergy meetings where we looked at the big picture at the management level. We also got our sales people, developers, engineers and technicians together very quickly. This has already resulted in nearly 50 projects – and that number continues to rise. We have also started working together on significant strategic projects: One current example is the chicken or onion lines, which show significant potential for the future.
HS: To help this process, we encouraged employees to talk with each other directly, rather than immediately appealing to managers when problems arose. We wanted to take advantage of that fresh, innovative momentum that only comes when adapting to a new situation. We also tried to bring the respective contacts together in informal settings, such as at dinner, to create a good atmosphere that went beyond the workplace.
JYP: We just purchased, at the beginning of 2016, a new mushroom production site. We did this because mushrooms will be a strategic raw material for us in the coming years. In the same way we generate natural colors with carrots or sweet and spicy flavors with onions, we can use mushrooms to create umami taste. Utilized with the right scientific and application knowledge, this can replace the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, for example. This represents a huge competitive advantage for our customers who are looking to position themselves in clean label goods.
HS: Many synergies were used in this development. Diana brings the raw materials while Symrise uses its new technologies and creates very specific flavor nuances that were not previously possible. In this example, France contributes the base notes for soups, instant foods and snacks with its mushroom concentrates, while Holzminden develops the top notes. That’s how our combined strengths provide unique aromatic profiles to the industry and distinguish us from our competitors.
» Instead, we made sure that everyone knew what they were contributing and how each side could benefit from the other. «
HS: That’s true. Symrise can increase its volumes fairly simply. Diana, on the other hand, has to manage a very complex value chain as all of its raw materials come directly from nature.
JYP: The Symrise Flavors Division is therefore able to react to customer wishes much more quickly. Creating a flavor composition from various raw materials is certainly an art of its own, but it can always be accomplished when one has the necessary know-how. At Diana, we have to develop products on a longer timeline. Also, we cannot store all our materials in all seasons, at all locations and at any desired amount. Supply chain optimization and productivity improvement are our main focus in this.
HS: What we are eating here is delicious, but also very substantial, to put it nicely. That’s fine from time to time, but generally, I eat lighter meals. At Symrise, we also want to contribute to healthier diets. We are committed to the United Nations charter to combat obesity and diabetes around the world. We want to enable food manufacturers to use considerably less fat, salt and sugar in their foods and more natural ingredients than they could in the past with the help of our products.
JYP: It is the same for us. As an example, the broccoli here on my fork is the basis for an extract that has detoxifying effect thanks to the glucoraphanin it contains. Our BrassicareTM extract was sold for the first time this year in China, which has a quickly growing market when it comes to products that positively affect health. It took us five years to obtain the health certification for this and to develop the proper standardized active ingredient. Overall, it was a big success thanks to very efficient team work. We also work on joint projects for several global manufacturers looking to position their brands in natural segments that emphasize health-related effects. This increasing trend is working to our advantage as we help these big players utilize alternatives for synthetics and reduce the amount of salt or sugar in foods and beverages without sacrificing the product’s sensory experience.
HS: We’ve never had a major problem. Perhaps we need to be a bit quicker on implementing some of our inspirations and ideas into products. We are working on that and trying to fill the right positions with the right people.
JYP: Some progress has already been made here. We all firmly believe that more tremendous opportunities for creating value through working together await. Therefore we aim to further intensify our collaboration in the coming months, specifically in the areas of Food and Pet Food.
HS: We see each other as equals with many similar abilities, attitudes and opinions. That’s why our cooperation will continue to run smoothly and we will continue to benefit from various positive synergies.