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Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2019

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PROSPECTS Frank Becker,

PROSPECTS Frank Becker, Collonil‘s Managing Partner since 1998 A BERLIN ORIGINAL SHINY SHOES SINCE 1909 Collonil has a long and moving history in Berlin Text: Christiane Flechtner It is loud and pleasantly warm in the large production hall on Hermsdorfer Straße 70 in Wittenau. At the very front of the hall, Hasan Oturak is stirring a large pot of hot, rubbery liquid. Oturak is one of more than 120 employees who work at the site and, although he is not a chef, he is mixing ingredients involved in a very special and secret recipe. He adds a splash of yellow and – after comparing it with the color chart of up to 80 different colors –is finally satisfied with the color of the future shoe polish. “The basic formula for shoe polish is actually very similar to the formula for skin cream,” explains Oturak. After all, the material one is caring for – namely, leather – is nothing but the skin of animals. Collonil uses high-quality raw materials in this realm, including Aloe Vera, almond and jojoba oil. Combined with extensive know-how and state-of-the-art technologies, these are the characteristics that distinguish the company from the rest. In its 14,000 square meter production hall, Collonil produces not only creams, but also so-called aerosols, those sprays with and without propellant gas. In the aerosol department, roughly 50,000 spray cans are produced in one single shift. One watches as a variety of cans, bottles and pots “meander” on assembly lines through individual factory departments and are ultimately filled, labeled, laminated, sealed and packed. Then they are sent out to the whole world. These tubes, cans and spray bottles contain the secret ingredient to Collonil’s success. They are the creams, sprays, lotions, foams, waxes and oils Photos: © Frank Becker, © Collonil, © Christiane Flechtner 22

Collonil shoe polish has been made in Berlin for more than 100 years. The secret formula is strictly confidential. that help to make those pumps, moccasins and hiking boots worn by men, women and children in 93 countries more beautiful. The history of Collonil is also the history of Berlin. The foundation for the company’s success was laid in 1909 in two small rooms on Köpenicker Straße. After the business began to flourish rapidly, the three founders – Karl Esslen and the two Salzenbrodt brothers – expanded and took up new premises on Schlesische Straße 12. Yet another move followed in 1921, this time to Mühlenbeck, a town roughly five kilometers outside of Berlin to the north. After World War Two, the Salzenbrodt brothers decided to move to West Berlin, where the two entrepreneurs saw a better economic future for themselves. Esslen did not follow, which means that in 1952 Collonil became a pure family business under the name Salzenbrodt GmbH & Co KG. Also in 1952, an expiring lease prompted the company to move one last time. Its new site was the 14,000 square meter factory in Wittenau, where the company has had its headquarters and production facility to this day. Frank Becker, a 58-year-old from in Bremerhaven, took over the reins at the company in the spring of 1998, when he became sole managing director of Salzenbrodt GmbH & Co. KG. Becker has been the company’s managing partner since 2001. “The formula for shoe polish is very similar to that for skin cream.” Hasan Oturak “In our 110-year company history, we’ve experienced several highs and a number of lows. We had to survive two world wars, a global economic crisis and even an expropriation,” says Becker, looking back. “Still, we were able to celebrate small and large successes throughout that time.” Over the past two decades, Becker was able to maneuver the company onto a new growth course with a consistent strategy of internationalization and an expansion of the product range offered by the Collonil core brand. At the same time, the construction of a new 3,500 square meter Collonil logistics center in Mühlenbeck in 2013 and the addition of 24 new employees marked a clear commitment to the company’s tradition in Berlin tradition. Becker set new trends with shoe care products made of organic materials. He also broke new ground with regard to marketing, for example with the “Outdoor Active” product line, the “Collonil Car Care” line containing innovative special-care products for the auto sector, the “Aviation” line for cleaning leather seats in airplanes and premium leather care for the equestrian realm. Relatively new is the “Collonil Carbon” line, which is designed especially for the most popular shoes today, sneakers. “Our customers are the focus of all of our actions,” says Becker. “We develop and produce high-quality and custom-made products that recognize their needs and fulfill their wishes. This is our task and our motivation.” 23

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