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Episode 18: Rheine - the cradle of KTR


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Julia Ures: "In Sight KTR" is back. Hello and welcome! Glad to have you with us today as this podcast and video cast comes of age. In fact, this is our 18th episode and we're so glad you're with us today and tuned in, listened to us or maybe watched us if you always watch the videos of "In Sight KTR". For 18 episodes now, we've been taking a look behind the scenes at the company. We also take a look at the locations in other countries. Today we stay in Rheine, but go a little bit beyond the company premises. Our topic today is Rheine, the cradle of KTR. I have two guests here in the studio whom I am very pleased to welcome. These are Bettina Thelen, graduate geographer at the Development and Economic Promotion Corporation for Rheine, abbreviated to EWG. There, correct me if I'm wrong, you are responsible for projects, events and cooperation.

Bettina Thelen: Exactly! I do everything that is in between.

Julia Ures: Super! Nice that you are here today.

Bettina Thelen: Yes, thank you!

Julia Ures: I am looking forward to our conversation. And Holger Klinge, this is the man here in our midst, graduate in business administration, head of human resources and financial accounting at KTR, and with the company since 2003. Now we have 2021, there is the 18 again, for 18 years.

Holger Klinge: There it is again. Yes, exactly!

Julia Ures: Ms. Thelen, let's just jump right in. I said that our topic today is Rheine. In other words, we're actually going off the premises today and take a look beyond our own backyard. Are you actually originally from Rheine?

Bettina Thelen: No, I am not from Rheine. I am a real Rhineland girl. I come from near Aachen, I come from Eschweiler actually, and then somehow through love then came to the Münsterland and also do not live in Rheine actually, but have remained in the district of Steinfurt. But I have been professionally loyal to the city of Rheine for many years.

Julia Ures: Maybe with some distance you can love a location even a little more?

Bettina Thelen: Yes, so that is my thesis actually, which I put into the room, and also say, I need such a well-being oasis, where I can withdraw from time to time and where I can also develop many things and where I wake up in the morning with duck quacking, but then experience Rheine really lively, so to speak, and be active there. Yes, that's how it is.

Julia Ures: Mr. Klinge, how is it with you, are you a homegrown of the city of Rheine?

Holger Klinge: I was actually born in Rheine, yes, and grew up in Altenrheine, now live in the beautiful district of Rodde. I spent four years in between studying in Münster, but otherwise spent my whole life in Rheine. Yes, indeed.

Julia Ures: How often do you find yourself drawn somewhere else?

Holger Klinge: At the moment a little less, unfortunately, because there are fewer opportunities. Otherwise, the big city is of course also something quite nice sometimes, so once or twice a month you can find me outside of Rheine.

Julia Ures: Mrs. Thelen, we would now like to get to know the EWG a little better. What actually is the EWG? I have already briefly introduced the translation of the abbreviation. And what are its goals? And what are your tasks in the company?

Bettina Thelen: Yes, that's a long question, I could give a long lecture on that, but I'll be very brief. As you just said, EWG is a development and business promotion company. At some point, the decision was made to make it a limited liability company in order to be closer to the companies. That is very important and very good. We do classic business, we market real estate, we do city management, city center management, in other words, all the classic economic development fields that are also familiar to other economic development agencies. But we have developed something, and I'm very proud of that, that is a bit outside the realm of normal economic development. Holger, you've been with us from the beginning, and together we've set out to do something with the companies, to set projects in motion that are perhaps not so common. And that's what EWG does. This has a long history and has also become more and more established, so that we can jointly launch childcare, for example. Those are a few of my tasks, so just thinking outside the box, developing projects with the companies and joint marketing and getting them on the road.

Julia Ures: If you've been with "In Sight KTR" for a bit longer and you're already familiar with this format, then you know that we always give ourselves about 20 minutes here at our disposal and try to answer as many questions as possible in that time. These are questions that you send us to Please feel free to continue to do that as well, feel free to send us your ideas that you write for more topics that you want the episodes to be headlined. And now we're going to get to a series of questions that have come in. Some people might think of Rheine as a dull place, Mr. Klinge. Is that the case, or what arguments do you use to contradict that?

Holger Klinge: These are actually also prejudices that we have to fight against, especially in human resources, when it comes to recruiting specialists and managers or bringing them to Rheine. It has to be said that the location has a small disadvantage here. It really is necessary to do a lot of advertising together with the EWG. As a native of Rheine, I naturally think completely differently. I can think of 20 or 30 good things that speak for Rheine, that it is not boring. It's not a big city, but it has a lot of advantages of a medium-sized city, I'd say. You can do and experience many things here, and it's certainly not dull. No.

Julia Ures: Ms. Thelen, Mr. Klinge has already announced that he can think of 20 or 30 things, or he has already named two or three. What do you see as Rheine's greatest advantages as a place to live? Now we have talked about the skilled workers, of course they want to know, how do you live there?

Bettina Thelen: I think you always have to think a little bit about where you're coming from. You might be on the road studying and want an urban center. But at some point, of course, there might be a phase in your life where you want to settle down a bit, where you want to start a family. And Holger, you're certainly agreeing with me, that's the phase when you learn to love Rheine. So here we have a great infrastructure, a medium-sized town, here we have a really excellent education, of which we are very, very proud. We have a lot of leisure activities in this region, we have the city center, which is becoming more and more beautiful and lovely and has a lot of charm. I think there are more attributes that are positive than those that are maybe not so lovely. That is something that every city has, but my assessment is that Rheine is very prosperous by now and is also developing. And thanks to the companies that we have here in the region, it naturally also has a certain appeal.

Julia Ures: Mr. Klinge, a company like this also helps shape a city, but how does the location also influence the company? So that's where we got a question: What do you think, how does the location influence the corporate culture and what advantages and disadvantages does the location bring for an international company like KTR?

Holger Klinge: Of course, this has a strong impact on a company like ours and we really have to say that we have almost 480 employees at KTR here in Rheine. They do not all come from Rheine, but if I now take Rheine, not only Rheine, but really say Rheine plus / minus 20 kilometers, that is already, 90% of the employees come from Rheine or from the immediate vicinity. They are all from the Rheine area, and all of them have the Münsterland character, it has to be said. It's a family-run company, and you can tell that they really place a lot of value on it here. I think that's different than in the Rhineland, for example, or in other areas of Germany; people from Münsterland can be a bit stubborn. It is also said that it takes a little longer to make friends. But once you have one, it is for life. We also notice that at KTR, so the team spirit in this group at KTR is really phenomenally good, I have to say. People stay here for 30, 40, 50 years, the fluctuation is zero. That means that this kind of people from this region, from Rheine, plays a major role in the company. And that's why the location is extremely important and good for us.

Julia Ures: Mrs. Thelen, as someone who has moved here, you can of course judge quite well whether what Mr. Klinge has just said is true. He lives here, so of course he has to say that. But is that the way it is, this group of people here? Once you've warmed up to them, you have loyal friends by your side?

Bettina Thelen: If I'm honest, after five years I thought I had to leave. It's true that it can be hard and tough, but it's also true, as Holger also said, that when you arrive and have warmed people up a little bit and grasped them a little bit and pushed them a little bit and you say you're allowed to laugh sometimes and we're allowed to praise sometimes and we're also allowed to show emotions sometimes, then people change. I think we have also achieved a lot together in this regard with the 'location of the good employers'. I feel comfortable here now. I think it's a really great region, with great scenery and where people also feel at home. I think that also makes a lot of difference to companies when people feel comfortable in a company and/or in the region.

Julia Ures: Now you have a very good overview of the companies here. KTR with its 24 subsidiaries, is that rather an exception, such an internationally positioned company, or are there quite a few of them?

Bettina Thelen: Yes, I think that Rheine is not so well known as a location for companies that are active worldwide. So we have many, many large companies here in Rheine, of course not as many as in Berlin or in Cologne, but I think we can be proud of many companies that also operate worldwide. Can you also mention other companies here?

Holger Klinge: Yes.

Bettina Thelen: Apetito is of course a company in Rheine, but we also have Berbel Ablufttechnik, which is active in Europe. But really, I can go on and on, there are many companies that also have a global market and are exciting and stand out.

Julia Ures: Well-trained employees, as you have already pointed out, Mr. Klinge, are of course very important. Logistics is also an important factor for a company like KTR. If we now look at the infrastructure a little bit further, Mrs. Thelen, how would you say that Rheine is established in terms of education and transport?

Bettina Thelen: For a start, I have to say that we have been a logistics location for many, many years and have also received awards. I believe we have a good logistics cluster here, including networking companies that are active here. Education, as I have already mentioned, we have a very good school base here where you can achieve a lot. Unfortunately, we are not a university location, which leaves us a bit behind. We are very sad about that, we would like to have more students. We have the EUFH here on site, also a university, but specifically active in the nursing field. But nevertheless, we have educational institutions nearby, in Steinfurt, in Münster, Osnabrück, and thus we are well situated.

Julia Ures: Mr. Klinge, you have a bit of the perspective of someone who lives here himself and someone who naturally also wants to offer as attractive a local environment as possible to employees. How do you see the future of the region and the people who live here?

Holger Klinge: Very positive. At the moment, of course, we are operating in a market where the shortage of skilled workers is not a buzzword that is completely new, but has been there for a long time. That's why we are currently working with the EWG to initiate many projects to make the location more attractive. There have been several campaigns, from the Business City to the B.HIVE, which recently took place, to make the location more attractive. We are competing with other regions that have also realized this in the meantime. That's why it's important to keep at it. But we can already see what Ms. Thelen has already said, that this location in particular is simply highly attractive for many people when it comes to families. It is still possible to purchase properties here at a comparatively low price, if that's even possible these days. In other words, this is a target group that is highly attractive to us and that we are targeting. And finding them again from all over Germany is a bit of the task we have right now.

Julia Ures: What challenges do you see Rheine facing in the next few years or decades?

Holger Klinge: A) To remain attractive or become even more attractive for sure. In terms of infrastructure, we still have a few things that we have already discussed in the round, where we are also in the process of driving things forward in close cooperation with politicians. It's simply something like a transport network here, a bus and train connection, there are still things that can be improved in Rheine, that has to be said quite clearly.

Julia Ures: Mrs. Thelen, this location or the soft location factors have been in the minds of some companies for a very long time, while for others it has perhaps now come more clearly into focus due to the massive shortage of skilled workers. Has it already been realized everywhere that the companies really do have a responsibility to make the location as attractive as possible for the people who are to live and work there?

Bettina Thelen: That is really a difficult question, I have to be honest. We started very, very early on to beat the drum and say that we can help here as an economic development agency, that we can do something together with the politicians, but ultimately we can't do it alone and we have to do it together with the companies. Because if we don't do that and it doesn't multiply, we can't achieve what we want together. That's why we tried to get them on board very, very early on. Nevertheless, there are of course many smaller companies that simply have other concerns, that are even more on the brink, where not so many people are busy to take the issue on board. That's why we're making an effort to bring smaller companies along with us and to keep telling the story over and over again. But I have the feeling that the business community has understood very well that we can't do it alone and that we also need a little input from the companies, not only in the form of financial support, but above all also intellectual input, also in the form of support for the idea and to say, come on, let's tackle this and let's bring the project forward. And we do that together in a very good culture and really try to be very creative.

Holger Klinge: If I may make a brief comment, this is really something that has grown extremely in recent years. Even our programme 'location of good employers' is a lot of fun, because we are already a larger company in Rheine, but there are also small tax consultants with ten people in this initiative, and to exchange ideas with them and to push things forward. They have completely different concerns, they sometimes have a completely different perspective, and that is also very enriching for us, which is great. So these are really fun meetings. I think most of them have really understood that by now, maybe also because they had to. But this is really an exchange that is taking place in Rheine these days, so that you can really say that something is beautifully growing together.

Julia Ures: Now this is today, at least as far as the microphone is concerned, so to speak, is not your first meeting as far as a podcast is concerned. Today we also have the medium of video. That means that today you are also standing or sitting together in front of the camera. After all, you already recorded a podcast back then for the EWG. What was the topic there?

Bettina Thelen: We have our own podcast on the road, and together with the 'site of good employers'. The background was a bit like oh, we're all sitting at home in the home office, Corona, and no one knows what's going on in Rheine. We talked to the companies on the phone, we talked to Apetito, to KTR on the phone, and there was a buzz behind the curtain, so to speak, and nobody knows. Then we said, we have to talk about it and also talk about how great Rheine is, and have made the Rheine podcast for home lovers, curious people and you. In this context, it was of course also important that we talk about KTR and especially about the topic of personnel policy and how to approach it and what factors we face. There we were together in the studio.

Julia Ures: I think you asked Mr. Klinge about his favorite place. Do you remember what you said?

Holger Klinge: Yes, I'm pretty sure I was talking about my home village of Rodde and there the hedgehog's nest by the canal. That's such a ...

Julia Ures: That sounds nice though.

Holger Klinge: Yes, Rodde, that comes from Rodde Igels. That's an aid organization for children's cancer aid. And we've created a nice little place by the canal with sand and things like that, where you can - it's not quite as nice now at this time of year, but in the summer - it's incredibly nice to stop in.

Julia Ures: After all, it's getting warmer again.

Holger Klinge: Yes, exactly!

Julia Ures: Sounds nice.

Holger Klinge: Yes.

Julia Ures: Today, we would like to conclude with another question: What makes Rheine particularly worth living in for you, Mrs. Thelen? How would you answer this question?

Bettina Thelen: Now it's very difficult because I don't live here. Of course, you have to say that.

Julia Ures: But nevertheless you also stand up for what makes Rheine worth living.

Bettina Thelen: Yes, exactly! For me, it makes it worth living, the variety. This diversity makes it very livable, this diversity of great companies, but also this inner-city diversity, but also, you wouldn't believe it, but Rheine is quite lively. Yes, I like that.

Julia Ures: We won't quite take that as the final word, because Mr. Klinge will of course also have the opportunity to respond. Rheine and the quality of life, in summary perhaps, if we now round off this episode, what characterizes Rheine in particular?

Holger Klinge: I think, first and foremost, it's really the people who live here. You can tell it's not a big city, it's not anonymous, but the people here really make it through a wide variety of projects or things, we had several examples of this on our podcast, it's not a big city, that' s anonymous, the people themselves are actually the value factor here, who simply get a lot going on their own initiative, which simply doesn't exist in larger cities. So the solidarity here, we are not a village, we are a bit more, but this solidarity, which Rheine still shows in many, many places, which you can see again and again at KTR, that is exactly what we said at the beginning, that is actually what makes it worth living. Besides all the other things Rheine has to offer, from the river Ems to ...

Julia Ures: Like Rodde.

Holger Klinge: ... about the marketplace, about the events that are here, about the sports clubs and, and, everything else that you have here, of course.

Julia Ures: So: Visit Rodde and maybe meet Mr. Klinge there. I would like to thank you very much, because we are approaching or we are already at the 20-minute mark, therefore we are already at the end of our episode today under the topic "Rheine, the cradle of KTR". I would like to thank you both very much, Bettina Thelen and Holger Klinge. It is nice that you have been here today and that you have also basically done a bit of advertising for Rheine as a location. I would like to thank you for your interest. Please continue to send us your questions and suggestions for topics. And of course you are welcome to join us next time for the next episode of "In Sight KTR", then already episode 19. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing you again. My name is Julia Ures and see you next time.

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