In his thesis, he was already busy building test stands. And for about 25 of the more than 30 years of being active for the Berghof Group, Peter Deckelmann, one of the driving forces behind the longstanding “Alliance“ partnership with National Instruments, has also applied himself to the subject of testing technologies. In the following interview, the key account manager for e-drives at Berghof Testing explains why he most of all misses personal contact with his many longstanding customers in Corona times, why the high proportion of engineers at Berghof Testing pays off more and more and why he is particularly fascinated by Korea and Japan.
1. The corona pandemic has vehemently stirred up our everyday working lives. What do you personally miss most right now?
As key account managers, we are the immediate interface between our most important and longest standing customers and the people responsible for the various areas at Berghof Testing. For me, therefore, direct, personal exchange with my customers is extremely important and a crucial source of knowledge. Of course, we can exchange information even during this COVID-19 pandemic via video conference or traditional phone calls. However, it is the personal visits on site we learn from most. I really miss these visits right now. After all, there are quite a few customers whom I have been looking after for 25 years – never before was there a time I couldn’t visit them for so long.
2. Why would this direct exchange be so important right now?
Far more than any other group, the suppliers to the automotive industry are our most important customers, primarily in the sectors interior, exterior and e-drives. These companies are currently coping with enormous upheavals because the situation in the automotive market has probably never been as diffuse and difficult as it is today. There is great demand for us, as a partner in the field of testing technology, to help them overcome these enormous upheavals by providing the best possible support to our customers. Based on our best-in-class test systems customized to our clients requirements this works pretty good. In addition, of course, to be helpful for our customers we must always keep our ear to the ground. Without trade fairs and with much fewer direct visits than before Corona, this has become much more difficult – but we at Berghof Testing have a reputation for loving challenges.
3. Speaking of challenges: The demands on test systems are getting higher and higher – key words are operator less systems and an ever-increasing trend towards individualized test systems. Is this a curse or a blessing for Berghof?
For us this is clearly a blessing – because we are increasingly gaining advantage from a traditional strength at Berghof: we have always had a very high proportion of engineers in all business units of the Berghof Group and, in addition, we have bundled all core competencies in-house in order to have a quick and agile processing of projects. Direct access to the competencies and know-how of the many other areas of the Berghof Group is certainly a rare if not unique feature in this form. Together with our modular standard systems, this enables us to realize this enormous technological flexibility, which our customers increasingly demand from us, on every single day. As already mentioned: At Berghof we love challenges and are always keen to break new ground – as our latest innovations prove.
4. Staying open to new approaches – is this the most important prerequisite for success as a new team member at Berghof Testing?
Anyone who prefers to think along well-trodden lines and wants to sell the same product off the rack umpteen times is definitely not a good match for Berghof. Our customers expect us to provide an optimal solution for them, based on our tried and tested standards, that offers them real advantages – and for this purpose, we need bright minds that are constantly looking for technical progress and are only satisfied when they positively surprise our demanding customers with their ideas. Anyone who thinks and acts in this way and furthermore loves by 100% to work in a team will enjoy the diverse and varied tasks at Berghof Testing.
5. As a key account manager at Berghof Testing, you often deal with new technologies or components that will go into mass production only years later. Are you a person who only looks to the future even in your leisure time?
On the contrary – to me it’s extremely exciting to learn where certain technical developments originated. Even as a child, I wanted to know exactly how important key technologies, such as engines and transmissions, work. That's why I've always been very interested in historic trains and buses. However, as the saying goes: opposites attract.
6. If you want to be successful in sales, you have to know a lot about people, listen carefully and be able to understand them. At the same time, especially in the automotive industry globalization has been gaining ground increasingly. Are there regions and people that you are particularly captivated by?
I am fascinated by many countries and regions. And I am also drawn to faraway places when I am on vacation. The always relaxed, always polite mentality of the Koreans and Japanese made a lasting impression on me: pulsating metropolises full of people and vehicles, so it feels pretty chaotic at first - and yet it exudes an almost eerie calm and order. Really impressive!