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Great potential for a future together

Redaktion PSI Journal

Published on 26.02.2024

At the beginning of December, word spread in the promotional products industry on what had already happened in November: cyber-Wear, one of the largest full-service providers in Europe, brought one of the leading equity capital investors on board, Hamburg-based Haspa BGM. We wanted to find out why.

Why bring a partner into the company when, like cyber-Wear, you are doing so well yourself?

Steven Baumgaertner: Many friends and competitors in the promotional products industry surely also asked themselves the same question. And why exactly a bank in Hamburg? Let us take it one step at a time: businesses often raise money for expansion through the stock market, loans or private equity companies. But money was not our main concern. We wanted more.  

And then you picked out a savings bank in Hamburg?

Steven Baumgaertner: Just to be clear, we still have our principal bank, the Volksbank Kurpfalz eG, and that will remain the case. Our new partner, Haspa BGM, is a classical associated company.  

Stephan Hannebauer: And we, Haspa BGM, are a subsidiary of HASPA Finance Holding, which is the sole shareholder of Hamburger Sparkasse AG – quite a peculiarity among savings banks. With total assets over 50 billion, Hamburger Sparkassen AG is the largest savings bank in Germany. To be clear, Haspa BGM has long been active throughout Germany as an equity investor and mid-sized company. Our services go far beyond the provision of capital. We are an entrepreneurially thinking partner for strategic issues and structures. We also have a large and well-functioning network of specialists for personnel recruitment thanks to our various holdings.

Steven Baumgaertner: In addition to other factors, these were the decisive competences, which make a partnership with BGM so interesting for us. We set out to find such a partner and sat around the table with ten potential companies. As for Haspa BGM and the people we met there, we realised that we tick very similarly and that the people at BGM had a great desire to achieve new success with us in an industry that was new to them.

Stephan Hannebauer: It must be said that we attach great importance to ensuring that the operative business and entrepreneurial responsibility remain in the hands of management, in this case the entrepreneurs and their employees – just as the majority shares in the company remain in the hands of the two founders. However, we will actively support the further growth and consistent expansion of the company. This applies to expansion in the horizontal market, but also to investments in the vertical market. 

You sought and found each other, just like in real life, so it seems?

Stephan Hannebauer: Yes, you can say that exactly, because we are looking for business models for partnerships, which match us well and, in particular, structures that match us well too. Here are two partners wishing to expand their business. We now want to do this together – as an equity investor without a time limit, which is often not the case for other investment companies.

Steven Baumgaertner: It was important for us to have a shared vision of where we can develop the company. We are currently working out the strategy for this path forward together. And we are happy that this does not have to be done under time pressure, thanks to the structure of the BGM.

Where exactly is the journey going?

Roman Weiss: It is no secret that we generated around 50 million Euros in turnover last year. It is also publically evident that we earned good money in the process. For the coming years we have set the joint goal of 100 million Euros in turnover. Whether this can be achieved in three, six or eight years, depends on many factors.  More turnover can be generated through new business, acquisitions and new business areas. We are working together on these plans.  

Stephan Hannebauer: Our role here is, of course, that of a financially strong partner, but also that of a sparring partner, who brings a certain outside perspective to decisions – and all of this for a company that has developed very well on its own and is currently undergoing change, because growth also must put things in motion internally. We want to contribute our know-how with regard to the strategic further development and the establishment of personnel structures. We have acquired and consolidated our expertise in this area through a wide range of participations in enterprises.

Roman Weiss: And this is exactly what we need – or “sought and found” as we said before. We have certainly set up a very good and stable company and have optimally positioned ourselves in terms of personnel, technology and digitalisation. Yet we are indeed also able to recognise where we can and must improve. This has always set us apart and therefore we have been able to distinguish ourselves so strongly from the competition. But today, our internal structures are suitable for a turnover of 50 million Euros, or perhaps only for 30 or 40 million – we make up for much of this by enhancing our own and our employees’ performance – but the structures really do not match a player with a turnover of 100 million or more.  

What is still lacking? May we ask?

Roman Weiss: Of course, this is a broad field: it ranges from finances and controlling to the development of management levels, to recruiting and on to the daily processes in the company. Here is an example: we recently could have generated a high eight-digit sales volume with a potential new customer and thus would have been close to our mentioned turnover goal. However, we could not take on this commitment – and could not even consider it – because we would not have been able to manage it with our structures. You can’t take responsibility for what you can’t manage. These insights prompted us to search for a strong strategic partner, above all. You have to be aware of what you can do and what you can’t. We will strengthen our foundations in order to take the next steps.  

Stephan Hannebauer: However, I must say that there already are strong foundations. We see a great potential for growth in the premises, in technology, in storage logistics, in sales structures and in the personalities of the founders – and we are specialised in companies that want to move forward – thus those wishing to grow.

Roman Weiss: Yet we all also agree that we are talking about healthy growth – although we have always taken a very sportive approach to this. Now it is a joint journey that will take us to our common goal – soon we have our first meeting on the structure. We are therefore only at the beginning of a good and hopeful path towards the future. The successful strategy of self-doing and often doing things differently is now being enhanced by experience expertise with an outside perspective – we simply turn 1+1 into 3.

Steven Baumgaertner: And we also need to do so, as we can see that more consolidation is taking place in the industry, that is in our classic full-service business, and that volumes are significantly growing as a result. With our market position, with the BGM partnership and with expanded structures, we have the opportunity to approach those companies, who come to appreciate us as valuable partners and stay with us for the long-term – which is always our goal. We and BGM have sought and found each other in this respect as well.

We wish you good luck on your journey together and thank you for the interview.

(The interview was conducted by Manfred Schlösser and Siom on Dietzen.)


Information on the companies can be found at:  


Photo: Sought and found: (from left) Steven Baumgaertner, Founder and CEO cyber-Wear Heidelberg GmbH; Maximilian Schilling, Managing Director Haspa BGM GmbH; Janna Meyer, Investment Manager Haspa BGM GmbH; Stephan Hannebauer, Investment Director Haspa BGM; Roman Weiss, Founder and CEO cyber-Wear Heidelberg GmbH.