The following story is a compilation of 23 conversations held with employees from different company levels and countries in the spring of 2022.
Before the merger, one could imagine the two family businesses Rhomberg and Sersa as a couple who have come to know and value each other. These experiences led to the understanding “The two of us together are unbeatable”, and they said YES to each other. In this case, it was the signing of the merger of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group on 17 September 2012.
About the bumpy start
As is well known, the work really just begins with the YES, even if it is a "love marriage". One recognises that the other side also brings something to the table and the combined expertise creates added value, but although the culture is similar, it is not the same. It is inevitable that some friction arises. This is not always pleasant but it is essential for growing together. How can the employees of the machine and personnel provision business and those of the project business interact in the same way as in football, where it is the overall success that counts?
The owners Hubert Rhomberg and Koni Schnyder show us how it is done. Everything is talked about openly, issues are discussed on an equal footing and with appreciation for each other. It is not about being right - the focus must be on “this is OUR path”. If there are differing opinions, the owners make a joint decision which is based on trust in each other’s competence. This means that one has trust and confidence in the competences that the other party brings to the table. The decision is then communicated in unity. Additionally, the wisdom espoused by the senior owner proves itself as they grow together: “A good relationship is possible when you are generous towards each other and overlook petty issues.” And that is how the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group looks today: innovative, motivated, capable of teamwork and managing conflict, open to new ideas, happily confident and proud of the group’s success.
The interesting question is: What makes us successful?
If you listen to the stories of our employees, you can learn quite a bit about the origin and factors that contribute to the success of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group. The owners are mentioned often: their long-term thinking, their trust that you just have to tackle some crises head on - as it was demonstrated in the Australian market. This location, after some difficult years, is now in an excellent position and looks to the future with optimism. “Taking the long road” as a success factor? This seems to be true.
The structure of small, agile units is mentioned as an important precondition for success. They allow for entrepreneurial action within the group. One ground rule can be observed: Each allows room for the other’s own developments. The coexistence of different cultures, of individuality and unique characteristics is welcomed and sought after. And time and again an ideology is mentioned in the conversations that works like a magic elixir for our success: appreciation.
Whether it is during site visits, when listening to new ideas or contrary opinions: appreciation and respect are demonstrated. The owners set the example; they show great respect for what has been achieved. This is particularly evident on the construction site. There is no such thing as "goodbye and good riddance". After successful completion of a project, togetherness and getting together is cultivated. In general, familial togetherness is seen as essential for success.
Let’s have a look at the group’s innovative strength. Because a spirit of innovation was present in both companies before they came together, the push for innovation was doubled after the merger. The owners openly show their joy about something new - they love innovation and are proud if something new is introduced by employees. Our clients also sense this joy and pride. They are impressed with the collaboration in the group. Know-how is shared and implemented in all markets, and clients have access to the business units in other countries. The shared expertise from Europe is very much appreciated in Australia and North America. And it is already evident that the individual Rhomberg Sersa Rail locations themselves are developing into exporters of innovations.
Now, let’s consider the oft-cited cooperation of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group. It is the answer to increased and increasing complexity. The cooperation between the different areas and affiliated firms in the group bring about many benefits and advantages for the clients, which cannot in the same way be performed by other companies. The owners are convinced: “We are world champions in cooperation”.
As everyone knows, it depends on the people whether cooperation succeeds. And this bring us to the most important success factor: the employees in the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group.
They not only possess knowledge that they share, but also imagination and a wealth of ideas. This is how they solve many challenges on a daily basis. It is often the small ideas that inspire clients. The creativity in the group has even brought about new cooperation models, new types of partnership-based contract models, which have already gained the trust of a major client. The Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group has become a pioneer in this and is ushering in a new era of contract models. Here, too, it was the employees that put their passion, their heart and soul into their task so that work would bring pleasure, also in the future.
Our vision for the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group in 2032
The know-how in our group is available to all our clients. We have succeeded in building technology and knowledge platforms. Imagine this: we are selling this know-how on construction sites where we ourselves are not even building. And construction sites are experienced virtually before the actual work begins. What a relief! We are pioneers in addressing the issues of resources, sustainability and climate neutrality, because we have dealt with this very early on. Price discussions are a thing of the past. The question of “how can it be done most economically” is replaced with “what is the most resource-efficient way of doing it”. Because our clients are working together with us in cooperation models, a completely different way of working has emerged. Construction in 2032 makes sense and is a pleasure.
The exchange of employees, technical equipment, ideas and new developments at our locations in Europe, Australia and North America has developed to an extent we did not think possible ten years ago. Friendships with colleagues in other locations develop through close professional and personal interaction and through joint experiences. This results in more and more employees changing over to different regions for a period of time within the group.
What has remained the same in 2032? We still maintain direct and personal communication with our clients and colleagues. Despite of the innovative achievements in the area of communication and work, the human aspect is important for us. We still place value on good relationships and closeness with our clients in 2032.
We have solved the big challenge of staff recruitment. In this area we have also developed new models for the working world. We have managed to make the passion of our employees, our role as pioneers, and our values, a lived reality. The employees in the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group are proud to be working in the group. That makes us unbeatable.
A large, functional family
Trudy Schnyder, spouse of Konrad Schnyder and co-creator: “Today the Rhomberg Sersa Group is one large family that works.”
Successful because we have mastered complexity
Walter-Heinz Rhomberg, owner, Deputy Chairman of the Group Advisory Board: “The foundation for everything that is to succeed is mutual trust.”