Dirk Rossmann, 68, was born in Hannover. He took over his deceased father’s pharmacy after high school and founded Germany’s first drugstore, where the customers could shop like in a supermarket. His son Raoul, 29, studied ecomonics, and is responsible for the sales and marketing at the family business. Together they share responsibility for a privately held, multi-billion-euro chain of drug stores employing 26,000, the second-largest drug store company in Germany. The two spoke with Handelsblatt in their first interview together.
Handelsblatt: Mr. Rossmann, your father is combative, argumentative, emotional, open, chaotic. What are you like?
Raoul Rossmann: Well, I’m also combative, argumentative and inquisitive, but not so unpredictable. You never know with my father. Sometimes, he is the most chaotic person I know. And then his thinking again is completely clear and structured. I am more orderly, at home and at work. I tend to adapt to structures. My father makes his own structures. I am sometimes more the manager type.
Dirk Rossmann: I only went to school. My son is much more intelligent than I am. He graduated high school, vocational college, studied. I mostly have experience and intuition.
Your father gives interviews, appears on talk shows, has his photograph taken. Why are you so shy?
Raoul: I want to concentrate on work first for the next two to three years. Otherwise, I’ll lose my focus.
Dirk: I think that’s the right thing to do, even though a lot more businessmen should go out and engage the public. We had a hard time for 33 of the 43 years I’ve had my company. There was so much debt that sometimes I didn’t know on Friday how I was going to pay the employees on Monday. My worries used to be different. I always had this feeling of rivalry and thought, “Man, dm (a rival drugstore chain) is doing it better.” Now, we have been doing really well for ten years. This leaves me free and I use that freedom to work on media relations.
What do you get out of that?
Dirk: I was born in 1946 and grew up in the ruins of Hanover. If the people in this country think only of themselves, then there can be another Adolf Hitler and chaos. We need responsible people – journalists, physicians and businessmen. Only that will give us social peace. And sometimes, it’s just fun. I get a lot of applause at my lectures.