Diversity, freedom and trust - An interview with Damian Krueger
What was your career path like until you came to CREMER?
Damian Krueger: Before starting my career with CREMER I used to work for another Hamburg head-quartered trading company. I was department head of two departments in Shanghai and was looking to up my game after seven years with the same company.
In fact, I was lucky enough to have the option to join several first class companies at that time as China was “the next big thing” and everyone wanted to have a presence in China. I felt CREMER was the best fit in terms of people and reputation.
I remember I printed out five CV’s for my interview at CREMER but ended up to talking to 16 people who came in and out to meet and interview me. It felt “a bit naked” at that time to have that many people asking for “my expectations”, but I appreciated that different departments wanted to speak to me and see whether I am the right guy for the job.
Everyone truly cared about the business, including Mr. Peter Cremer who was well past his retirement age still taking the time to swing in and check how his sons run the business. I was impressed and liked the culture from day one.
I felt CREMER was the best fit for me in terms of people and reputation."
What exactly do you do at CREMER?
Damian Krueger: As general manager in a global, yet family run company, my responsibilities seemed endless. I remember it took some time till I got the “green light” to hire an admin assistant as everyone expected me to do everything.
I had to smile and wrote back that we’d be saving at the wrong end but that was 15 years and about 1 billion US$ worth of trade prior to today. Back in those days, this mindset forced me to hire slowly and precisely, so I did and I still do.
With that said, I still do everything I did 15 years ago. I hire, build and work alongside great people with the goal of either getting the lowest price when we purchase steel, oleo or agri products or services all over China or I am aiming at getting a fair price for a product which we sell to our end-users.
From day to day I am busy with the sales of oleo chemical and agricultural products to our clients, as well as in the purchase of steel and oleo products from the factories here in China.
In Wuxi, I look after our prestigious client, the good relationship with the Wuxi government and commerce. I like to enforce corporate identity and look after continued improvement within our businesses.
Apart from our day to day operating, I regularly have the opportunity to look after diverse food and feed projects like breakfast cereals, tea, pig feed and other projects which have kept me excited throughout the years.
How many people work in the Chinese office?
Damian Krueger: We are six in Shanghai and 140 in Wuxi. The turnover of both locations is roughly the same, the complexity, skillset, tonnages and business are completely different.
The speed, adaptability, flexibility and willpower of the Asian people are impressive and unique."
What does CREMER Wuxi do?
Damian Krueger: In summary: We produce a new product for (dirty) laundry. It's not a washing powder, it's not a softener, it is a scent booster – a perfume for the laundry or cloth which is used in the washing machine.
How do you experience the Asian market in comparison to other parts of the world?
Damian Krueger: I am obviously a bit biased by now, but I see China and Asia are the new superpowers arm-wrestling with the big boyz and old heroes. The speed, adaptability, flexibility and willpower of the people here are impressive and unique. It’s very populated, polluted, tough, busy and exciting to work here. At times I miss the blue skies and structure back home in Germany, but I learned so much in such a short time here, I would not change a minute of it.
What do you like most about your job?
Damian Krueger: Three words: Diversity, freedom and trust.