I’m Marion Schumann, founder and president of Ent-Decke.
This section tells you a little bit about me and what motivated me to start Ent-Decke - something that has never been done in this shape or form before.
My idea evolved over the course of many years.
I worked in various corporate groups for 27 years. During that time, two questions were constantly on my mind: “What exactly am I doing here?” and “What good does it do?” There were a lot of things I would have liked to change during my time with those groups, but there was never a lot of scope for making a major difference.
My husband is an entrepreneur who has been running his own small business for many years. The differences between a salaried manager and somebody who runs his own company and is responsible for everything couldn’t be greater.
A group of companies is rather like a game with a lot of rules. If you can play the game because you’ve understood the rules and avoid asking too many questions, everything seems to be fine. I know the game inside out. I can play it in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. And yet I’ve never managed not to ask questions.
Over the last few years, I’ve convinced myself to give my support to a lot of things by sticking to the rules and blanking out the world outside the game. But when profits don’t increase by a certain percentage every year, the small print that’s written into those rules starts to make itself felt. When various activities are outsourced or the entire operation relocates, things can become quite unpleasant for the hard-working employees.
That’s when those questions start to play on my mind again. Does it have to be this way, and what do we get out of it? Where will it all lead to and what would it be like if entrepreneurs were in charge of everything instead?
I could for instance operate Ent-Decke from a different country, a country where the cost of living is a lot cheaper and taxes a lot lower. A place with fewer regulations, where web designers, data centres and employees are cheaper. And it goes without saying that I would charge european prices. In short: I could play by the familiar rules. So why not?
Is that what I want? No, definitely not. Because it’s this place that interests me – its special people and its companies. And because nothing can compensate for personal contacts. Small and medium-sized enterprises are closely linked with their country* and the people who live there – and not just because they don’t have any other choice.
For me personally, trusting business relationships are important, as are family and friends, culture and values: all these things play a key role in my life. And there’s something else that matters to me: I want to try to make things better in this country* – better for everybody.
Most small and medium-sized enterprises can’t just do a runner when the going gets tough. Nor do they want to. And I don’t either. Because I firmly believe that our country* is full of wonderful people with huge potential – potential that I want to discover and make the most of, for my own sake and for yours. You’ll be amazed at all the things that are out there waiting to be discovered – things you’ve never even heard of.
But these insights didn’t come to me overnight. Just like many other people, I suspected that paradise was to be found elsewhere. I did a lot of travelling (up to six months a year) and had a very good look at some of the magical places I went to. Eventually, I came to the realisation that even paradise has its inconveniences.
There was a time when I really did believe that I could just move to the jungle when things here went downhill, live off the fruits of the forest and enjoy each day as it comes. Unfortunately, it’s extremely rare to find a place like that. And when you do find one, another of those uncomfortable questions comes to mind: How much longer will it survive?
To put it in a nutshell, what I’m trying to say is this: in the long term, we can only benefit from focusing our attention on the owner-run small and medium-sized enterprises that are rooted in our country* or a certain region – companies with values that go far beyond accumulating capital, simply because they have a personal interest in what they do.
I’m not a great fan of shopping malls. I prefer to go to weekly markets and smaller shops. I see an owner-run store in a big shopping mall as something special (because there are so few of them left), and when something stops working I call the same tradesmen I’ve been dealing with for years. I buy most of my clothes from the same shop. The same goes for my shoes. I love having a coffee with the shopkeeper and prefer to buy fewer but better quality things. I hope Ent-Decke will open the door to the world of owner-run small and medium-sized enterprises for you too. Come on in. You won’t regret it.
* That doesn’t only apply to Germany and Austria. These people and companies exist in every other country too, it’s the Ent-Decke concept that matters.