Built on Allgäu Honesty and Competence

Interview with Dominik Buhl, Managing Director of hagenauer GmbH

hagenauer Campus Schlüterstraße Hamburg
Campus Schlüterstraße in Hamburg

An industry in crisis. The construction industry closed the year 2023 with a revenue decrease of 5.3% compared to the previous year. For 2024, economists from the Central Association of the German Construction Industry expect a further three percent decrease. hagenauer GmbH from Immenstadt also feels uncertainties in the industry. And yet remains optimistic. Not just for this year, the order books are full.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Buhl, you are the managing director of hagenauer GmbH, a family-owned company from the Allgäu, which is deeply rooted in the region and has earned an excellent reputation internationally through large-scale projects. How did this come about?

Dominic Buhl: Martin Hagenauer founded the company in 1990 as a small carpentry shop on his parents' farm and continuously expanded it. Areas such as window construction, the fitting-out of luxury liners, or the equipment of clinics were gradually added, as well as other trades. When I joined in 2005, we first realized major general contractor fit-out projects like the Hotel Breidenbacher Hof in Düsseldorf or the Ritz Carlton in Vienna. Also, the 2010 acquisition of the near-bankrupt Polish furniture manufacturer mebloform, which today is a successful furniture producer for upscale chain hotels with 180 employees, significantly influenced the development.

Dominik Buhl, Managing Director of hagenauer GmbH
Dominik Buhl, Managing Director of hagenauer GmbH

Wirtschaftsforum: Were there any further milestones?

Dominik Buhl: We have developed our competency as a general contractor over the years to tap into additional market potentials; today, core refurbishment is hagenauer's key competency. Since then, we have successfully relied on the open book procedure, meaning, we maintain transparent communication with our customers, where cost information is fully disclosed.

hagenauer - Campus Schlüterstraße in Hamburg
Campus Schlüterstraße in Hamburg - Structural work, technical building equipment and basic finishing of the listed building will be undertaken by hagenauer
hagenauer - Sony Music White Room
In the new office and commercial district in Berlin, among others, is the location for Sony Music: the contract volume for hagenauer was 85 million EUR

Wirtschaftsforum: What does the company's position look like after this dynamic development and do you expect a similar development in the coming years?

Dominik Buhl: The group employs 280 people and has a turnover of 100 million EUR. While mebloform focuses on FF&E, i.e., Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment, in Poland, hagenauer focuses on core renovation. We realize large-scale projects with a contract volume of up to 150 million EUR; currently, for example, the Mandarin Oriental in Vienna, Hamburg University, and a larger office complex in Berlin. mebloform deals with short-term orders, hagenauer with large orders that run until the end of 2025. Forecasts for the future are difficult due to the current situation in the construction industry. Increased interest rates, high construction prices, and the loss of subsidies have made customers uncertain and led to a cautious investment willingness.

Wirtschaftsforum: What has been your career path at hagenauer and what are your main activities?

Dominik Buhl: I joined hagenauer in 2005 as a student as part of my dual studies in business administration and was then initially taken on in the commercial area/controlling. With the purchase of mebloform in 2010, I became the managing director of the Polish subsidiary, and in 2016 the managing director of hagenauer. For hagenauer, I mainly take on commercial and strategic tasks, as Martin Hagenauer is very present on the construction sites and has the operational leadership. My focus is on mebloform; there is a German-speaking plant manager on site, and I am responsible for all areas of activity from calculation, through order acceptance, processing, and handover, to the final invoice. In addition, I am responsible for personnel matters or the machinery fleet. As future challenges, I see digitalization and automation; we are just at the beginning here. Laptops and iPads are used at all construction sites, project managers always have the current construction plans on their devices, so that trips to the office are unnecessary and the flood of paperwork is reduced. Also in production, PCs are located at most workstations, so that employees can easily obtain relevant data. In construction management, we have been relying on Lean Construction Management for a long time. Another issue that is increasingly coming to the forefront is sustainability. Sustainable building with compliance with the respective certificate requirements is now demanded in most projects.

Wirtschaftsforum: Despite the crisis in the construction industry – how do you look forward?

Dominik Buhl: Hagenauer stands for the values of competence, honesty, reliability. That's exactly why customers recommend us. Over the past few years, we have built many large hotels in Germany and the DACH region with mebloform; after at most 10 to 15 years, renovations are usually due. And also in the area of general contracting business, hagenauer regularly plans large new construction and renovation projects, especially in urban areas. For us, this means there will be plenty of work in the future.