Family Business at Risk

Authors: Matti Bauer. Human interest - BR - 2004 - 45 min

If it were up to carpenter Sedlmayer, his son would take over his business when he retires, but although the son has completed an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker, he prefers to work as an employee in a furniture store. Consequently Sedlmayer is forced to try and sell the business, which once offered a steady and secure income to a dozen employees. Only so far his efforts to find a buyer have fallen flat.

Mr Werdath, a tiling expert from Rosenheim, is also looking to retire. He has no children of his own and the assistant he had hoped would take over the business was afraid of the responsibility that would go with it. Such fear is common among tradesmen. If Werdath, whose company just tiled Gaddafi's swimming pools in Tripoli, hasn't found a buyer by the end of the year, he will be forced to close the business down and his employees will be out of a job.

The saying goes "nothing comes from nothing", and in the case of tradesmen, taking risks is part of what they have to do if they want to get ahead. The older men know this only too well. They have experienced hard times and fought to keep their heads above water. Now they want to see a return on their investment in the form of a quiet retirement in the knowledge that their work will go on. But as long as the next generation is afraid of running their own business, that retirement dream is not a given. Even the banks are capable of putting a spoke in the wheels by not agreeing to grant necessary loans.

The third example in the film shows how different things can be. The joiner Ludwig Erhard decided from one day to the next to set up on his own and take over Fischer's business. It seems appropriate that Erhard has the same name as the Chancellor during the time of Germany's economic miracle. What tough times call for more than anything is an entrepreneurial spirit and a belief in the future. Everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own happiness. The film shows this in a humane and sometimes humorous way.