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fuel, in terms of energy content. That is a good thing. And let’s assume that the weight is not prohibitive. So the next thing is, where are you going to charge your batteries? If you put them next to a coal fired power station, actually, it may not have achieved the target.’


On the bright side, he added, more and more clients are ‘willing to compromise’ in order to achieve fuel-saving and emission- reduction. ‘The trend is very clear.’


* * *


Is it helpful to be a family business at a moment like this, when the future – regarding power systems and so on – is uncertain? Yes, it does help because you can take a long-term view. It’s two things. One, it gives the client comfort if you, as a family member, stand behind the product. And you don’t have the pressure of always looking at the stock price. It’s not about – not only about – making money. It’s about client satisfaction in the end. And, ultimately, it will pay back. The clients realise you’re trying very hard to make them happy.


Next year is Lürssen’s 150th anniversary. Has it started to make you think about succession? You’ve got three adult children – might any of them come into the business? I always think about it. But it’s very much a double-edged sword. The price a family pays in this business is not to be underestimated.


It’s very much a double-edged


sword. The price a family pays in this business is not to be


underestimated


A children’s birthday, or a client visit? There’s no question: you have to choose the client visit. I’m not certain that I would want the children to have to live that kind of life, and I wonder if this in the future will be as critical as today. So yes, I think about it, but I don’t have an answer for that yet.


When you say you’re not sure if it will be as critical in the future as it is today, do you mean that this is a strategically important moment for the company, the industry? Yes. Business is getting more technocratic. Unless you have a family member who’s really deep into the technical things, it doesn’t help: you’re either in it or you’re not. And to be in so deeply, there’s a price to pay.


Have any of your children expressed an interest in joining the business? They like the business. But they don’t like it enough to go that route for the time being. Will I be able to convince them otherwise? Honest answer: I don’t know.


Would you like to? Yes and no. It’s great to do it. But I see all sides of it. And would I want them to go through that? I don’t know.


You’ve still got plenty of time left, of course. How would you describe your style as a leader? That’s another difficult question. [He laughs.] I think people know that I expect a lot. I hope they also know that as long as they try their best, I’ll back them up. I will not go to the client and tell them, ‘It wasn’t my mistake – it was a guy on the shop floor that did it’. If anyone made a mistake, it’s my head on the block, not my people. And I would do that in any situation if a client had a complaint. I stand in front of my people. But at the same time, I want a commitment from them. And I think they realise that we as a family are very committed to maintaining the business and to guaranteeing their employment. We try to do that. It’s a mutually dependent situation. S


GUILLAUME PLISSON


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