"Making a Sustainable Contribution Out of Conviction"

Interview with Gerd Schöller, CEO of SCHOENERGIE GmbH

Gerd Schöller, CEO of SCHOENERGIE GmbH
Gerd Schöller, CEO of SCHOENERGIE GmbH

Taking responsibility, being authentic, truly standing behind what the company stands for - these words are repeated often when CEO Gerd Schöller talks about his company. SCHOENERGIE is a well-known name in the implementation of solar panel systems - equally for private customers as well as in the industry and for the energy sector. In conversation with Wirtschaftsforum, Gerd Schöller speaks about the metamorphosis from a small business to a medium-sized enterprise, the belief that desire for change is part of success, and a team in which everyone has the chance to develop themselves - through training and further education at the company's own SCHOENERGIE Academy.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Schöller, since SCHOENERGIE entered the field of solar power generation and renewable energies 15 years ago, it has experienced and helped shape developments in the industry. What have been important issues for the company in this process?

Gerd Schöller: Since then, we have implemented many projects in the area of single and two-family homes, but we have also supported many industrial companies in setting up their own energy production. In addition, we have created opportunities for energy suppliers to generate solar power from large open-air plants. In recent years, we have increasingly dealt with the topic of storage, because with their own energy production, customers increasingly want to be able to use the energy at any time of day or night. The topic of charging infrastructure for electromobility has also been added. And in all of this, always the issue of safety, predictable electricity prices for the future - we have consistently developed in this direction and established these three areas in our company. Today, we have 300 employees at six locations in Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saarland.

SCHOENERGIE Solar Park Sevenig
Solar parks, like this one constructed in Sevenig in Rhineland-Palatinate, are practical climate protection. SCHOENERGIE has 15 years of experience in planning and constructing solar power plants and offers all services from a single source
SCHOENERGIE Solar Park Karlshausen
Solar power plants represent a comprehensive contribution to the energy transition

Wirtschaftsforum: What were important steps in the development of SCHOENERGIE?

Gerd Schöller: Looking back, we have gone through three phases in the company development. The first five years were characterized by a certain stagnation; due to the political regulations, the solar industry was pretty much on the ground. We still wanted to continue and have worked a lot abroad in the second phase, in the Netherlands, England, and even in South America. 2016 started the third phase: For the first time, we thought of a growth strategy and implemented it. Since 2018, we have grown from an annual turnover of 13 million EUR to about 100 million last year. Additionally, in the last two years, we have hired approximately 200 employees and developed from a small craft business into a medium-sized company. Throughout all growth, it's important to us: What we do, we do out of the conviction to make a meaningful contribution. Something sustainable, by saving CO2 sustainably through our work. The more we grow, the more projects we can realize, the more we can do for the environment. We thereby consciously take responsibility.

Wirtschaftsforum: You now lead 300 employees instead of 30. How has your job changed for you?

Gerd Schöller: I believe, in the last few years, I had to reinvent myself five times (laughs). Five years ago, I used to sit at the kitchen tables of many customers, was much more in customer contact. We were always navigating by sight. You have insight everywhere, know all customers, are aware of every invoice. That has really changed drastically; I have learned to delegate many things to others and place trust in my employees – because I can no longer delve into individual topics as deeply. I am out of the day-to-day business, even if sometimes I relapse and catch myself wanting to do just that again (laughs).

Wirtschaftsforum: The growth of the company does not come by chance - what do you see as the reasons for the success of SCHOENERGIE?

Gerd Schöller: It is very important to us to be authentic in what we do. There is this overused phrase 'You can only do successfully what you enjoy doing', but this applies to us because we really are committed. And I believe that this is what brings us success. The other factor is the employees: a team of people who fully support what we do here together, who are always ready to go the extra mile and then actually do it. That is the biggest part of the success: a team that is excited about making a change.

Wirtschaftsforum: Against this backdrop, what is your vision for the company, where do you want to lead it in the future, say in the next three to five years?

Gerd Schöller: For us, it is now a time of stabilization, to increase productivity in the company, also by onboarding new employees well and offering them the opportunity for further education. We have laid the foundation for this with our own SCHOENERGIE Academy, in which we want to offer up to 200 training sessions per year. Vocational training and further education is a huge topic – we have talents in the company, a treasure that is worth exploring!