I visited the ‘Meet the Mittelstand’ event last week, which brought togther a good sample of Germany’s economic powerhouse – the ‘Mittelstand’ .- in one place It was excellently organised by Stirling Media Ltd (run by Will Stirling, recently ex-directing editor of The Manufacturer Magazine) along with government partners UKTI and held at the impressive facilities at JCB’s HQ in Rocester, in the east of Staffordshire.
The event presented a wealth of experiences from German company’s, education partners, chambers of commerce, with a view from a few key UK Mittelstand-type companies (loosely the ‘M’ in SME’s), plus an opening speech from Lord Livingston, Minister for Trade & Industry, panel sessions with some of the contributors, Lord Digby Jones, Lord Anthony Bamford (of JCB) amongst others.
The success and robustness of Germany’s economy over that last 60 years or so, can be attributed, with some significance, to the success of these middle-sized family firms, finding niches in world markets and becoming the best as what they do, supported by government at all levels, educational systems, financial institutions and the society around them. It can be argued that the UK has lost, or at least undermined, some of these key ‘bricks in the wall’, reinforcing this behaviour by ‘short-termism’ (see previous post) over that last 30-40 years, and that we should redress the balance. The Conservative minister (ex-BT CEO, now Lord Ian Livingston), no less, was conscious of this issue, hence his broad support for the event’s aims.
I’m working on some detailed summaries of this event, having taken copious notes during the bulk of the sessions and have had some time for further thoughts since,.
In the meantime, have a look through the “Meet the Mittelstand” conference blurb and watch this space for further posts.