29/06/2018 – Schmitz Textiles — auf Deutsch lesen
“We have a responsibility to the future”
CEO of Schmitz Textiles Stefan Ruholl talks about innovation and quality
textile network: You’ve been CEO of Schmitz Textiles since 1 January 2018 – what has changed for you?
Stefan Ruholl: In my new role as CEO, I’m no longer just responsible for the fabrics, chemical finishes and printing processes — now I have to think about the balance sheets and legal regulations too. It’s a new and exciting challenge for me professionally. The one thing that hasn’t changed is knowing that I have an experienced team around me who I can rely on one hundred per cent.
textile network: You’ve been working at Schmitz-Werke for more than 33 years in various managerial roles. In 1996 you were head of the chemical finishing department, three years later production and development manager in textile finishing processes. In early 2000 you were appointed Technical Director and then subsequently took over the management of the division, and this year you are at the helm of Schmitz Textiles. What experiences have shaped you the most and driven you forward?
Stefan Ruholl: Before I took over as head of the chemical finishing department, where fabrics are treated, I had spent many weekends in our laboratory, trying out and testing active substances. This led to advances such as bioaktiv treatments, which allow us to reduce germs and bacteria on textiles by up to 99 per cent. That was a milestone in textile development. In 2010 we also brought another world first onto the market – fabrics with the all in one additional application, combining air-purifying properties with an antimicrobial effect. The combination remains unique. That showed me that there’s a lot you can do when you’re prepared to try. This means that I am always interested in new things and make sure I continue to learn. As regards textile finishing processes, I have also, for example, learned chemistry on the side, and as an operations manager I’ve had to think about things like work organisation, accounts and calculations.
textile network: What does Schmitz Textiles stand for?
Stefan Ruholl: We have a responsibility to the future. Our specific technical solutions create added value for users and, at the same time, we always make sure we’re working responsibly with our resources and the environment. The new structure illustrates that we aren’t standing still, but rather that we’re constantly adapting to new situations. This means we can play a key role in shaping the markets.
textile network: What interests you about textiles?
Stefan Ruholl: Textiles are part of life. They’re not just found in the clothing and home furnishings industries — you also find them in wind farms, aeroplanes, in medicine, for example as a component in stents, in housing construction in the form of textile-reinforced concrete, and much more. Textiles can have a wide range of properties that make life easier.
textile network: You’re also a voluntary member on the board of the textile research network “Forschungskuratoriums Textil” — what’s your focus here?
Stefan Ruholl: Textile research covers a broad spectrum. There are research projects focusing on everything from high-tech textiles, form-fitting clothing and medical textiles to cleansing. The demands placed on contract textiles are continually growing too. Here we investigate, for example, how we can use green chemistry to create good flame-proof effects. Industry and science are also both working on building other functions into fabrics. The way I see it, the three big issues are antiviral finishes on textile surfaces, vector protection - i.e. protection from minute creatures such as mosquitoes - and sound protection.
textile network: What is your priority as CEO at Schmitz Textiles?
Stefan Ruholl: We are an innovative, internationally leading SME which sells outdoor textiles, decorative fabrics for commercial properties and “made in Germany” textiles for the automotive, rail and aircraft industries - and we want to stay that way. It is very important for us to work closely with property managers and interior designers. They are the key, because they are the experts who can explain the advantages of intelligent functions to customers. I am committed to strengthening our collaborative partnerships, driving future innovations and delivering the top quality for which we are well known on the international market.
Mr Ruholl thank you for talking to us
The questions on behalf of textile network were asked by Marte Westphal.