The new Harvard Business School (HBS) has done a case study which describes how A. Lange & Söhne became a world-renowned watch company and is expanding its position in a competitive environment.
Stefan Thomke, Professor of Business Administration at the HBS and an authority on the management of innovation, and Daniela Beyersdorfer, Associate Director of the HBS Europe Research Center in Paris, developed the case study from 2016 to 2017. The authors visited the watch manufactory in Glashütte, attended the training programme of the Lange Academy and interviewed company founder Walter Lange, who has since died, CEO Wilhelm Schmid and other members of the management as well as calibre designers, watchmakers and finishers.
Obsession with quality and a desire for innovation were behind the initial rise of the manufactory founded by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in the 19th century. After an involuntary hiatus of 40 years during the partition of Germany and the relaunch after reunification, the same values again propelled the company to the top in the years following 1990. The company promotes a culture of innovation and carefully pursues sustainable growth successfully.
“The case study describes a company that has a proud legacy of excellence in production quality, innovation and brand building. Its products are among the finest products in the watch industry,” says Thomke summarising the conclusion of the 25-page work.
Balancing sustainable growth with economic success without compromises in quality and brand is one of the main objectives of Wilhelm Schmid, who joined the company as CEO in 2011. “There are many ways to achieve profitable growth,” he says, “but the level of quality needs to remain constant across all segments. There can be no compromise on precision or surface finish quality.”
Wilhelm Schmid explained his business model as a guest speaker at the HBS in Boston on 26 April 2017 in front of entrepreneurs and top executives from all over the world.