People at CREMER
CREMER is a successful family-run business. Our employees ensure this around the world – responsibly, reliably and competently. But what moves our colleagues at CREMER? What do they deal with in their daily work? And how do apprentices and trainees experience starting their career at CREMER? Meet some of our colleagues here and find out more about the people behind CREMER.
From job speed dating to joining CREMER
Melissa Burzlaff, Trainee in Foreign Trade Management, Peter Cremer Holding
Working internationally was always my goal. In 2018 I spent a school year in New Zealand, and after finishing school in 2020 I wanted to go overseas again. Unfortunately, corona put paid to that plan. So I stayed in Hamburg, worked odd jobs, did an internship, and then learned about CREMER at a job speed dating. In 2021 I started working here.
I started with dual study at CREMER, but then switched to a trainee program. That kind of thing is possible at CREMER, because their career planning is always centered on the person – and sometimes you need to adjust your direction before you find the right path.
Sometimes you need to adjust your direction before you find the right path.
Now I’m finishing a program as a Merchant in Foreign Trade Management. Foreign trade – here that means worldwide contacts on all continents and dealing in all kinds of products, like ethanol, steel and oleochemicals.
I myself grew up bilingual since my mother comes from England, so at home we spoke a lot of English. That’s a plus for me at an international company like CREMER, because here I interact with people from all sorts of countries, every day.
As trainees we pass through many departments and learn a lot about the individual areas. For example, during my time at Quality Management with CREMER OLEO I had the opportunity to be in on a customer audit and get a look at the process of glycerin production. It was exciting to see how they make the product that we deal in around the word every day.
Varied and responsible tasks, daily contact with customers and colleagues from different countries, and the possibility of continuous professional growth – that’s exactly what I like.
An open ear for trainees
Katherine Wienold, Staffer Supply Chain Management and Training Officer at CREMER OLEO, Hamburg
CREMER is a family affair for me. I’ve known the company from childhood, since my father worked here. When CREMER OLEO was urgently looking for someone for Supply Chain Management, I applied on the spur of the moment and was quickly invited to an interview.
I’ve been here for over 13 years now. My tasks cover everything having to do with oleo product order handling and logistics. I telephone with customers and suppliers, enter orders, keep an eye on volume planning, and take care of contracts, billing, and import and export documents.
As Training Officer, I am also the first point of contact for our trainees and dual students at the Hamburg location. New talent development is a priority at CREMER, and so for me it was a heart’s desire to take the “train the trainer” course.
As Training Officer, I am the first point of contact for our trainees and dual students at the Hamburg location.
I accompany our new talent on the road into professional life. This includes regular performance reviews with trainees and students, as well as preparing and coordinating their work assignments, always in close coordination with our department People & Organisation. I also represent CREMER at training trade fairs.
Our trainees and dual students quickly become familiar with a wide range of work areas and tasks. We want them to work independently as soon as possible and run their own projects.
I myself did a training program in wholesale and foreign trade after completing my abitur (A levels). That wasn’t so very long ago, so I can empathize with our new talents. I always have an open ear for my protégés. Helping young people during their education and seeing how they develop is a very rewarding part of my job.
From Hamburg to Latin America
Roberto Echeverría Botero, Managing Director Latin America, CREMER OLEO
From Argentina to Brazil to Colombia, Mexico, and Paraguay, as Managing Director Latin America I take care of all of CREMER OLEO’s Latin American business. I’m on the road about half the time, traveling from our location in Colombia to our factories, offices, and customers all across the continent. I also regularly travel to Cincinnati OH, where CREMER OLEO has its US headquarters, and to CREMER’s world headquarters in Hamburg.
I’m Colombian, 38 years old, and attended the German school in my home town of Barranquilla. At 18 I decided to study in Germany. After a degree in Foreign Trade and International Management at HAW Hamburg, I went to work for a consulting firm before switching to CREMER.
In our Hamburg office my product area was glycerine. This is a real do-it-all material with over 3000 uses in every area of industry, from toothpaste to hand lotion to pralines, suppositories, animal feed, and paper. I started out as Product Manager for Glycerine, and then became Business Development Manager. Starting in 2016 I was Business Unit Manager responsible for the entire glycerine business in Europe. But I wanted more!
In 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, I moved to Colombia and established the office in Bogotá. From here we coordinate all of CREMER OLEO’s production, commercial, and logistics activities in Latin America.
I attended international conferences, held presentations on glycerine and biodiesel, and networked with interesting players from around the world. My special focus was always on Latin America and the opportunities that might arise there. So I suggested to CREMER management that we get more involved there. They liked the idea and set up our CREMER OLEO unit in Brazil. As we expanded to Paraguay we decided to open a headquarters in Latin America.
In 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, I moved to Colombia and established the office in Bogotá. From here we coordinate all of CREMER OLEO’s production, commercial, and logistics activities in Latin America. Our Executive Team is distributed across the continent and acts from different countries, yet together. In total we have more than 70 people and counting in the region.
What I like about CREMER is the responsibility they give you, the freedom, and the flat hierarchies. Here, you’re an entrepreneur within the company. If you have good ideas and the desire to achieve and build something, you’ll get the resources and trust you need to do it. Regardless of where in the world, everywhere you can feel the special CREMER spirit that binds us together.
Customers in Africa, Suppliers Worldwide
Uwe Protz, Division Manager Steel and Sustainability Manager Steel, Peter Cremer GmbH in Hamburg
I buy and sell a material without which the lives of most people on Earth would be unthinkable. From washing machines, cooking pots, and lamp posts to cans, bottle caps, and tubes, steel is a fundamental part of everyday life.
The department I work for is the “beloved eccentric” of the company. “Steel is different” as they say here, because CREMER actually has its roots in agriculture.
I spend about 50 days a year visiting our customers in Africa and suppliers worldwide. Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana – I don’t just go there because Africa is such a beautiful continent, but also because we have very good business relationships there. We supply sheet steel for the oil and gas industry, and source special sheet steel for making transformers and for the automotive industry. But whether large order or special order, my goal is always to source high-quality steel at the best possible price with the ideal delivery date for my customers.
I spend about 50 days a year visiting our customers in Africa and suppliers worldwide. Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana – I don’t just go there because Africa is such a beautiful continent, but also because we have very good business relationships there.
Sustainability is also more and more important in our business. I’m responsible for it across CREMER in my additional function as Sustainability Manager. Our goal is to sell customers more sustainable steel, and also make the transportation chain more sustainable.
I was born here in Hamburg, and am as deeply rooted here as the family company I work for.
Work-Life-Balance and Internationality
Katrin Kool, Staffer in Operations Steel, Peter Cremer GmbH in Hamburg
I work in a field formerly considered a male domain. The product I have to do with daily is steel. Our steel is used in a tremendous number of ways, from enormous tubes for pipelines to sheet steel from which ships and storage tanks are built, to the caps you find on just about every beverage bottle.
My job is handling the orders from our steel traders. They travel the world to make contracts with customers and suppliers. China, India, the Middle East, Europe, Africa – we buy and sell steel all over the world, and the operational handling is done by five of us in Hamburg. We’re in direct contact with our international customers, so English is a must.
We get notarizations from chambers of commerce and consulates, prepare shipping documents, and put together the necessary papers for submission to the bank. We must work very meticulously and carefully comply with all deadlines. With some documents every letter and every number is critical. If a mistake creeps in, the consequences can be serious – ships can’t be unloaded and customers have to wait for their goods.
The working climate at CREMER is incredibly good. In addition to the good relationships with my colleagues, I appreciate the very personal and approachable leadership.
What do I like about my job? The working climate at CREMER is incredibly good. In addition to the good relationships with my colleagues, I appreciate the very personal and approachable leadership. Whether department head or CEO, the door is always open.
As a commuter and mother of two school-age boys, I benefit from CREMER’s flexible work times, the option of working from home part of the time, and the commuting subsidy. CREMER’s office is right next to the central train station, so I’m in the train quickly.
In 2010 I came to CREMER from another industry, and now I wouldn’t want to leave. After my parental leave I came back part-time. Two days a week I work from home. CREMER lets us find individual solutions for different life situations, as long as the work gets done. For me, that is a big part of the positive climate in the company.
Turning a hobby into a profession
Janusch Kloska, Team Leader Service & Administration IT, Peter Cremer Holding
As team leader, I take care of Service & Administration in IT. Intranet, firewalls, e-mail, networks – in our Hamburg IT department we look after over 200 servers. We also have many systems in the cloud. Our service desk receives and responds to about 30 to 40 employee inquiries a day.
I myself have been with CREMER for over 20 years. I started messing around with computers back in my school days, and spent a lot of time in front of PCs. I ended up making my hobby my profession. After high school I studied technical IT and trained in systems communications electronics.
Before I came to CREMER I worked for a systems house, where I put in late and weekend hours. Then I learned that CREMER was looking for more capacity for its IT team. I called up, came in for a relaxed interview, and just like that they hired me.
Digitalization is right at the top of the agenda at CREMER, so there are plenty of new projects, some of which we here in Hamburg do for the CREMER subsidiaries.
First I worked as administrator and at the help desk. In 2012 I was made team leader. Our team is constantly growing as the demands on IT grow. Digitalization is right at the top of the agenda at CREMER, so there are plenty of new projects, some of which we here in Hamburg do for the CREMER subsidiaries. We work with numerous service providers and also use specialists for certain areas.
What I like most about CREMER is the family atmosphere. Early on I met the founder Peter Cremer and his son, long-time CEO Stefan Cremer. In the third generation the family still has an open ear for employees.
At CREMER I’m an entrepreneur within the company
Christina John, Product Manager Oleochemicals, CREMER OLEO
In my job it’s all about soap. CREMER is one of the most important dealers in the ingredients that go into soap. As Product Manager, I’m responsible for the entire worldwide soap portfolio of CREMER OLEO.
I started 22 years ago as a trainee in Wholesale and Foreign Trade. After my training I really only planned to stay on for one or two years and gain some professional experience. That turned into more than 20 years.
When I was invited to become Product Manager for soap noodles, at first I wasn’t quite sure I was up to the task. But then I jumped into the cold water. I’ve been in the position for 14 years now.
I appreciate the flexibility that CREMER gives me. Flexible work schedules and mobile working are a huge help when you have a family.
Soap noodles are basically finished soap pellets our customers use to make bar soap. They only need to add their own scent, special ingredients and if desired color, mix it, press it, and the soap bars are finished. So our soap noodles account for about 90 percent of the soap, the rest is mostly packaging and marketing.
We have a very wide range of customers, from large, well-known producers to small soap makers and family-run businesses. We supply customers around the world. Some buy thousands of tons of raw materials a year. Others just need half a pallet.
What I especially like about my job at CREMER is that they gave me a free hand right from the start. Here you’re an entrepreneur within the company. That means you can organize your department autonomously and independently. I can make most decisions on my own without having to get permission or hold discussions. I also appreciate the flexibility that CREMER gives me. Flexible work schedules and mobile working are a huge help when you have a family.
Africa, India, Southeast Asia – on the go worldwide for CREMER
Björn Asmussen, Steel Trader, CREMER Steel
CREMER formed its steel department in 1992 when I was just a year old. Our steel business has grown steadily ever since, and I joined it in 2011. Right after finishing school and civilian service I started my training as an Export Merchant at CREMER Steel. Steel has been part of my life ever since.
I was always interested in other cultures and languages. My father was a shipping merchant, and got around quite a bit. My mother’s Danish, so I grew up bilingual. So I was well prepared to get into the international steel business.
Most of my customers are in West and North Africa. We get our steel primarily from China, India, Egypt, Turkey, and Spain. In addition to Hamburg, we have offices in Shanghai and Singapore. So I definitely do some traveling. In 2015 I was in India for several months, and in China and Southeast Asia for an extended period in 2016. Traveling the world is part of my job and something I love.
My father was a shipping merchant, and got around quite a bit. My mother’s Danish, and I grew up bilingual. So I was well prepared to get into the international steel business.
Reliability, product expertise and a capable international network – those are what it takes to be a good dealer. They enable me to put together the best package of product, quality, price, conditions of payment, and delivery. It’s complex but never boring. Once an order has been placed, I send it on to the colleagues in Handling. Good internal communication is essential so that our customers receive the best possible service.
Customers use our steel to make roofing sheet, barrels, paint cans, bottle caps, and other items. Pipes are also part of our business. They’re used for gas and water lines, wells, beach replenishment, and solar power systems.
The best part of my job is that customers often become friends. It’s nice to be networked internationally, and to look back on many years of shared events and experiences together with so many business associates.