An interview with Christian Albrings und Steffen Müller
We would like to get to know you first - please introduce yourself.
Albrings: My name is Christian Albrings and I am 41 years old. I would describe myself as an early riser who loves spending time with his family and in the garden at home. At the University of Stuttgart, I studied civil engineering and architecture before working for ten years with a technical project management company in various roles. During this time, I was able to gain experience in a whole range of different positions - in fact everything from working student to managing director. However, the desire for entrepreneurial freedom could not be satisfied with any of these functions, so that Steffen Müller and I started our own business in October 2015.
Müller: My name is Steffen Müller. I am 36 years old and, as the result of my studies in business administration with focus on corporate finance, I would call myself a classic business economists. After qualifying, I worked for a major real estate consultant where I developed a commercial real estate consultancy service. Christian and I got to know each other there. During my leisure tima, I am an enthusiastic mountaineer. The feeling of freedom this generates is really important to me. Probably this has something to do with the fact that I come from an entrepreneurial family. Eber since I can remember, business was always an important topic at our dining table.
Albrings: Yes, I also experienced this in my childhood and youth. This entrepreneurial thinking also means that neither Steffen nor I differentiate clearly between work and leisure time. To put it simply, they are both part of life, and we always try to make the best of both aspects.
We attach great importance to continuous development – not only to the company as a whole, but also to each individual.
How did you come up with the idea of albrings + müller?
Müller: I think it has always been obvious to both of us that employment - in whatever form - could never be a satisfactory solution in the long term. When working for our previous employer, it became clear how important the combination of commercial and technical know-how is for the real estate world - and now we incorporate that realization.
That was also the incentive for you to found?
Müller: Absolutely. We wanted to support our customers with our interdisciplinary understanding and always develop qualitative and innovative solutions. In addition, our foundation was about freedom: freedom is always at the top of both our minds - in everything we do. The drinving force for us was to maximize this freedom and to be able to realize our own ideas.
Albrings: I also had a key experience: I came across the marriage folder of my wife and myself because of a conversion in the house. The priest had asked us what our objectives in life were. And now I could read in black and white in this folder that I had also written down "independence" under "medium-term goals". At this moment, I once more became aware that it was really time to put this into practice. But you have to be aware of the fact that with the acquired freedom, of course, there is also a great responsibility.
Müller: More responsibility and less security, too. You have to know how to deal with it; that's entrepreneurial risk – in other words, that’s the price of freedom.
How do you try to give this freedom to your employees?
Müller: We don't have employees, we have collaborators.
And how is this evidenced in everyday work?
Müller: Working with albrings + müller is primarily characterized by a basis of trust – both towards each other and also in terms of our collaborators – and by a maximum of freedom. We do not have any hierarchical structures; instead we work together in groups and teams to which everyone can contribute their particular skills, expertise and qualities. It may sound trite, but, despite the security we provide for our collaborators, we do actually to a certain extent expect everyone to behave in an entrepreneurial fashion.
Albrings: This also applies to careful handling of resources, including our own. We want our collaborators to work in a sustainable way while continuing to develop their expertise. This is the only way in which they can perform well on a long-term basis. That is extremely important to us, as the whole company consists solely of collaborators. Everything that happens within the company happens in the heads of our collaborators. They are our most important corporate asset and, as a result, they are the highest priority.
More responsibility and less security, that's entrepreneurial risk – in other words, that’s the price of freedom.
The foundation of albrings + müller in autumn 2015 is already a few years ago. How did that go back then?
Albrings: We started regular business activities on 1 October 2015 - at that time, there were four of us in the operating area, supported by interns and our assistant. It was no coincidence that we chose this date, as Expo Real, the international trade fair for real estate and investments, always takes place at the beginning of October. Here we were able to present our business activities to the public and had a lot of enquiries in the first quarter.
Were you not surprised by the tremendous response immediately after your company’s start-up?
Müller: Of course we didn't found albrings + müller blue-eyed. Both of us had been in the real estate sector for quite a long time and were able to rely on a good network. Fortunately, we were able to find a good and fast access to the market and received a lot of support.
Albrings: Yes, we definitely benefited from that. In February 2016 we had already increased our staff so much that it became necessary to double our office space.
How has albrings + müller developed since then?
Albrings: In the beginning, we mainly took on short-running orders to build up a customer base and make ourselves better known. In the meantime, we have developed strategically: We are now also concentrating on long-term mandates. This is certainly connected with security. In the meantime, albrings + müller has successfully completed more than 300 projects for more than 180 clients of various sizes. This clientele has allowed us to grow steadily. We currently have 35 employees and three branches - and we are still on course for growth.
Müller: It is important to always question and work out the strategies. Because that means setting the course: Where is the company going? What competencies are required? What does the market require of us? These are questions for which we take our time. In addition, we have quickly expanded our initially existing network.
What motivates you and your collaborators?
Müller: We'll do our best every day, because we want to achieve corporate objectives. Moreover, we want to make a substantive contribution to the market and to continue to enhance the real estate world with exciting projects. I believe that all of us at albrings + müller have extremely high standards in terms of quality.
Albrings: Our collaborators are also motivated by the fact that we seek their opinions regarding company issues and expect them to participate in discussions. We attach great importance to continuous development – this applies not only to the company as a whole, but also to each individual.
How about the future of albrings + müller?
Albrings: Our focus continues to be on consulting projects in which we act as a service provider with technical and commercial expertise. However, we are constantly evolving and acquiring the know-how to support our customers in any situation. Good consulting in good and bad market phases means security. This is very important to us personally - after all, we both feel responsible for our customers, our employees and albrings + müller.