As the world grapples with the human and economic cost of the Covid-19, many companies are stepping up to provide relief to their employees and customers.
One such company is Liqui Moly, which specializes in motor oils, lubricants, vehicle care products and additives. The company’s Managing Director, Ernst Prost, announced that no-one in the company would lose their jobs even it meant waiving his own salary.
Automotive Industries (AI) caught up with Ernst Prost, Managing Director of Liqui Moly GmbH and asked him was in store for his company as well as the world over the next few months.
Prost: The world economy is on the brink of collapse due to the corona pandemic and its development is more uncertain than ever. We decided to offer a bonus payment of 1,000 Euro to boost motivation and as a sign of confidence, because in times of crisis this is quickly shaken. Fear and worry are hard to live with, let alone accomplish great things.
That’s why I promised them that they would not have to suffer financial losses. No one is to be dismissed! This applies to all employees – in Germany and in the subsidiaries in Spain and Portugal, Italy, France, South Africa and the USA. In addition, there are employees in Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, Thailand, China, Japan and India. Not only is business global, so is responsibility. All around the globe, our colleagues must be able to feed their families.
AI: You have said you would protect your employees’ jobs even if it means waiving your own salary.
Prost: Everyone must make sacrifices. The captain has to set an example, so that the crew can trust him. No one will be laid off because of the corona crisis – neither in Germany nor in any other country in which we are active. We are opening a protective umbrella over all our colleagues in our Liqui Moly/ Meguin family. Liqui Moly must generate a payroll including social security contributions of around 57 million Euro. These are the tasks we have been facing around the clock for days now. That’s what counts now – everyone’s health and their secure income. In order to achieve this goal, I am also willing to give up my own salary without any ifs or buts. That is a solemn promise.
AI: Do you think this will be enough to save Liqui Moly in the current scenario?
Prost: We are in a blessed situation, no one will lock our company down – like so many unfortunate people and companies affected by a curfew. Let me be clear: if we all work hard, stand up for each other and fight this battle now and in the next few months, we have a chance. No one becomes unemployed, loses his prosperity or savings and our pension can be saved. This is exactly what is threatening us. Not just us, not only the German economy, but the entire global community. If you don’t start fighting now, you will be partly responsible in this development.
AI: What are some of the challenges facing Liqui Moly as far as everyday operations are concerned?
Prost: The top priority is to protect the health of employees and their families. On the other hand, we are trying to keep operations going for as long as possible. An exhausting but necessary balancing act. This presupposes the proper functioning of the supply chains in procurement as well as in sales. As long as this is guaranteed, we will keep production going.
AI: How does the situation at home in Germany compare with those in other parts of the world where Liqui Moly has a presence?
Prost: The first calls for help have already reached me personally, for example from Mexico. Not only is the new virus rampant in the country, but inflation and violence are also affecting people’s lives daily. We are doing everything humanly possible to provide consumer goods to the partners. I see the situation abroad as more threatening than in Germany, because in most countries the economic strength and state aid programs are not comparable with those in Germany. A glance at Italy reveals apocalyptic conditions. Many an already weakened country has now been devastated. We must stand firm as long as we can.
AI: So, what is the solution?
Prost: I believe that we can get both the health and economic problems of this crisis under control. We are not medical professionals and we have no idea about diseases. But we do understand something about people and markets. How to ward off defeat and remain successful despite all difficulties. By holding the whole team together and fight. By rowing vigorously and working together instead of jumping into the lifeboats as a precaution and watching what the others or the state is doing. I am trying hard to find something positive about this crisis. There is something. People think more about their fellow human beings and we help each other, and we treat each other with respect. In a view global catastrophe and an impending global economic crisis, we see that work is not an annoying evil, but the prerequisite for prosperity, security and health. Instead of asking what else the company can do to make jobs attractive, the question should be in the past weeks: “What can I do? How can I help to save the company from not going under and how to save my own job?”
AI: How worried are you over the fate of your company?
Prost: We are fighting around the clock for the continued existence of our company with almost 1,000 jobs and tens of thousands more jobs at our customers and partners in Germany and in 150 countries around the world. The virus broke out in China at the end of December and Wuhan was already quarantined at the end of January. Our people in China had already been hit hard weeks and months ago. A few weeks ago, Italy followed and now it appears that the rest of the world will follow. Plant closures by order of authorities, quarantine, curfew, fear and worry.
But two bits of good news up front: 1. As far as I know, we are all still healthy and uninfected. We are doing everything we can to ensure that this remains so! 2. Our measures to minimize the risk of infection within the company, e.g. working from home, have all functioned perfectly without impairing our operational efficiency. In particular, I would like to thank the colleagues who keep production and shipping going on site in our various facilities. It takes a lot of discipline, comradeship and courage. In times like these, fear can really get you. You have my utter respect! The same applies to all our sales staff in the field. I can well imagine how they feel when you meet many people in workshops and shops.
AI: How have you personally been impacted by the novel corona virus pandemic?
Prost: I have been on the phone with my aunt, who is turning 90 in two months. She told me accounts of war, murder and manslaughter, forced displacement, hunger and disease. The generation before us had to suffer incredible hardships and achieved equally incredible things after the end of the Second World War. To orient ourselves to the fate of this generation, to take as an example their willingness to make sacrifices and their unconditional commitment and motivation – this too is a good recipe for dealing with the current situation.
Ai reader note: Swearing is therapy for the soul
LIQUI MOLY Managing Director Ernst Prost talks about tackling things head on instead of hiding away in fear, in his circular addressed to his colleagues, Ernst Prost, Managing Director of the German oil and additive specialist LIQUI MOLY, explains why it is now the time to roll up his sleeves and tackle things head on as well as take his responsibility for his own company as well as society