A Look Behind the Facade

Interview with Marc Pröchel, Managing Director of Pröchel GmbH

Pröchel Feser-Graf
For Feser-Graf, Germany's largest VW dealer, Pröchel builds all the car dealerships

Housing construction is in a deep crisis. For months, negative headlines have been spiraling. Companies complain about rising costs and lack of orders. The situation for Pröchel GmbH from Schwanstetten near Nuremberg is quite different. The family business, specialized in windows and facades, is booked for the next 1.5 years – and unlike most others, it has no problem finding apprentices.

Economic Forum: Mr. Pröchel, first Corona, then the war in Ukraine, now the crisis in the construction industry. How is Pröchel GmbH dealing with these many challenges?

Marc Pröchel: The pandemic was a completely new situation for all of us; employees were sent home, initially there were supply problems, which we, as a partner of Schüco International KG, quickly got under control. When the war led to significant price increases, we only accepted orders that were calculable and consciously scaled back the business.

Economic Forum: What does the situation look like currently?

Marc Pröchel, Managing Director of Pröchel GmbH
Marc Pröchel, Managing Director of Pröchel GmbH

Marc Pröchel: In the last few weeks and months, we have seen an exceptionally high volume of orders. The order books are very well filled for the next 1.5 years, currently we are hardly filling out any more quotes.

Pröchel Scanlab

Economic Forum: How is it that you are developing against the industry's negative trend?

Marc Pröchel: Over the past few years, we have established many partnerships with architects and builders. I am therefore even more positive about 2024. In order to have long-term planning security, we are already working at an early stage and in a comfortable situation on opening up markets in other European countries. Switzerland, Luxembourg, and England are of interest.

Economic Forum: What are the figures like for Pröchel GmbH?

Marc Pröchel: We employ 100 staff, will turn over about 13.5 million EUR this year, and plan to increase to 16 million EUR next year. This makes us one of the largest Schüco processors in Bavaria.

Economic Forum: Windows and facades have always characterized the portfolio. Are there any particular focuses?

Marc Pröchel: Our focus is on sophisticated glass and metal facade high-rise construction. It becomes especially appealing to us when a project does not conform to the standard but is so complex that not everyone can or wants to realize it.

Pröchel Roof and Facade Greening
Roof and facade greening are playing an increasingly important role in new projects
Pröchel Team Management
Five heads, one team – the management of Pröchel

Economic Forum: Can you name some references?

Marc Pröchel: A standout project is the Tucher Offices on the Marienburg Campus. We have been working for the Feser-Graf Group for 30 years, realizing all car dealerships for one of the biggest VW dealers in Germany. Scanlab in Puchheim, a forward-looking company in the laser technology sector, is another partner we continually collaborate with. These long-term partnerships are a great asset.

Economic Forum: Are there specific themes that recur in these partnerships?

Marc Pröchel: Sustainability is the topic that concerns everyone. For example, PV modules in facades, some of which are greened, are in demand. Another major theme is the renovation of existing buildings. To achieve climate goals, we would need to renovate 3% of buildings; in reality, we only renovate 1%. Since windows are the first to be replaced in renovations, this area will play a central role for us. We also take sustainability seriously internally, and have been doing so for a long time. In 2022, we began to engage more intensely with strategies; since this year, the topic has been anchored in the business strategy. In 2024, we will publish a sustainability report. We have founded a core sustainability team and, with Schüco, a strong partner that is significantly advancing decarbonization. In addition, we are increasingly dealing with digital processes, have switched to a new ERP system, introduced a document management system in 2019, and are considering using AI for certain processes.

Pröchel Ireks Baking Academy
Reference object Ireks Baking Academy
Pröchel Building-Integrated Facade (BIPV)
A look behind a building-integrated facade (BIPV)

Economic Forum: Full order books in the midst of a crisis. Is there a key to success?

Marc Pröchel: We are a reliable partner that advises customers competently and transparently, we have a family-like environment with flat hierarchies, making us powerful and quick in implementation. However, our greatest asset remains our employees; to ensure they feel comfortable, we offer various benefits such as massages and not least the 4-day work week, which we introduced 1.5 years ago. Both employees and we are thrilled by this model – and the productivity is right, too. We will not deviate from our course in the future, want to continue to grow on this basis, and secure jobs.