The manufactory Betoniu is based in the west of Leipzig between the disctricts of Plagwitz and Grünau. As the name suggests, Betoniu (eng.: concrete; ger.: Beton) processes concrete to create perfectly shaped design pieces. The company was founded in 2006 and specializes in working up high-quality concrete mixtures to design objects.
Relaunch or reboot: realignment of the company
Felix is a civil engineer and has been employed as general manager at Betoniu for six years. Back then the company had to face an important decision. The company had been running for a couple of years already, but growth was minimal and the company's future uncertain. The question was: how to proceed? The company then started all over again, creating things anew while taking past experiences into account. At this point Felix stepped in. He met founder Thomas Rehder through indirect ways. Thomas is as an excellent creative and entrepreneur, so Felix says. A rare combination that was since then complemented by the civil engineers practical disposition. He came in with an outside view and the necessary detachment to put down the ground work to facilitate growth and international reach. Furthermore, Felix optimized some operations by which additional resources were freed. Among other things he put focus on the purchasing department, which significantly determined the profit thus creating new investment capacities.
Manufacture instead of industrial mass production
These days Betoniu is known for their expertise in the field of concrete as a building material as well as timeless design. After many years of working with concrete, employees know their basic material inside and out. By now they know about the peculiarities, influences different parameters like humidity have around the workshop, the composition of the concrete itself as well as the different possible color options. Whoever held one of the manufacturers pieces in hand, knows that there is more than meets the eye behind the smooth surface finish. Opposed to other materials, concrete convinces with its sturdiness, finding a place in- or outside without being in danger of being damaged. Creating something shapely and eye-catching from coarse material is something the team has perfected over the years. The quality of the products is therefore owed to the teams careful handwork. In addition to concrete, Betoniu also integrates materials such as wood, glass and metal into their creations. When looking for suppliers, the company puts a lot of emphasis on regional partners, opening up more direct communication and future networking options. When manufacturing new or even custom made products planning phases can be long and difficult. In these cases unique material compounds have to be created. In these instances close contact to suppliers and cooperation partners is extra meaningful.
Design & function
The majority of the products were self designed and partly even awarded. The stool Lito 1, made of concrete and hollow steel tubes won the coveted German Design Award, awarded by the Rat für Formgebung in 2016. Aside from in-house designs, commissioned work has become a big part of the company's business, broadening the manufactory's main repertoire. By now design objects made in cooperation with their partners have become a mainstay. The components are made in Leipzig, shipped worldwide and even being used and further processed by various designers. Some of those works accrued with lamps are internationally renowned. Newer product lines include sturdy fire-proof furniture that combine functionality and design while meeting even the strictest fire safety regulations. An offer that is especially appealing to public institutions, where strict fire safety regulations have to be met.
Betoniu: then & now
Early on the company consisted of only three employees, today ten people are calling Betoniu their workplace, two of which are refugees that have been seamlessly integrated into the workforce. According to Felix, another strength of company is the homely atmosphere. The small team has been working together for years and morale is shaped by mutual trust and appreciation.
Further growth awaits the company, raising hard to answer questions. More employees do not always equal higher output. An expansion of the company's premises would also raise further costs. A successful strategy always boils down to details. What kind of change will be promoted is unclear. One thing though is certain. Quality will stay a focal point. The company's fundamental idea will still be: showing what concrete can do.
Felix's final advice for entrepreneurs and startup companies: Use Leipzigs location to your advantage. The Leipzig area is known for its favorable funding landscape. Potential opportunities are left by the wayside and local-, state- and EU project funds remain unused far too often. He strongly recommends to seek contact with the corresponding authorities as well as advertised go-to advisors and partners. There are numerous aids across various fields available that startup companies should use to their advantage.
Quick questions to Felix Benhold, general manager of Betoniu
How long have you been in Leipzig and why?
To be honest, I don't live in Leipzig. I live in nearby Halle. I have been around a lot, but there is no place like home. The area has gotten a lot of appeal in the last years. General togetherness in this area is outstanding. When it comes to business I never met anyone I could not work with. There is not a bad thing I could say about Leipzig.
Your insider tip for Leipzig?
The restaurant China Brenner in the district Plagwitz. There I had my first New Year's Eve party in Leipzig. They also offer great cooking classes. The cuisine is focused on a specific region in China. I highly recommend paying them a visit.