Hanseatic handshake and sustainability as a recipe for success

Text: Sabine TjørnelundPhoto: Alex Schelbert

In the last ten years the entrepreneur Stefan Moritz has not written a written contract as agreements are made by handshake. Trust counts for him and his customers – this is longer lasting than paper according to his company philosophy. He also focuses on sustainability with his core product: trade fair and event planning. Unusual in the industry – but it works.

Stefan Moritz has been working with his company MIV Moritz Innovationen Vertriebs KG for more than ten years in the field of trade fair stand construction and event design. While in the industry every detail is usually stipulated in contracts, the entrepreneur from Buxtehude seals his services with a handshake. However, it is not only his actions in the sense of an “honourable businessman” that distinguishes Stefan Moritz. His trademark is sustainability. Wherever possible, he relies on resource-saving materials and services – from the initial planning to the finished trade fair stand including catering and transport of people and materials. And this is becoming more and more successful. This year, his company was shortlisted for the German Sustainability Award.

Tiding-Online asked Stefan Moritz what his customers say about contracts with a handshake and how sustainability and environmental protection can be implemented in the trade fair world.

Mr Moritz, you conclude contracts with your customers with a handshake. How does the Hanseatic idea of an honourable businessman reach your customers?
Stefan Moritz: It is a bit unusual for new partners at the beginning and sometimes they want something in writing as far as the terms are concerned. In general, customers really like it and it does not matter whether they come from Germany, Europe, the USA or even Australia. Together we make the agreements and conditions for the next year or the next trade fair during a trade fair and then shake hands on it. It is a matter of trust. It is accepted and approved. I have not had a bad experience in ten years. And if a customer says that he wants to try something new next year with another partner, that is of course ok and is part of the business. Many customers return after a year. We focus on quality and sustainability – 100 percent. This distinguishes us and customers reward our “green” commitment.

What distinguishes you from other trade fair planners?
As a rule, we work for small and medium-sized companies. They usually have neither the time nor the complete know-how to organise a modern and functional trade fair stand with everything that goes with it, starting with the selection of the stand in the hall. With our “TEES – Total Exhibition & Event Support” we offer an all-inclusive service package. This modular system includes the entire supply chain from trade fair stand construction to catering. This also includes the booking of overnight stays or exclusive meeting rooms for sensitive customer talks, as well as the organisation of the journey to and from the trade fair. We make sure that the long and strenuous days at the fair are as pleasant as possible for the stand personnel. For example, we use a sprung floor on the trade fair stand that is joint-friendly. Of course, we can organise sightseeing tours as a compensation or we can put a typical national gift in the hotel room to welcome you.

And all this from the point of view of sustainability and ecology. How does it work?
We already use long-lasting building materials for the stand construction, which are used several times and do not end up in the rubbish bin. One example: Many trade fair constructors use laminate or carpet material for the flooring. At least 60 percent of this is thrown away after a trade fair because the material is not very durable. Our floors are more expensive but reusable and also joint-friendly. Not an unimportant aspect if you stand at a trade fair stand all day long and provide competent advice. Our LED lighting is not only sustainable, but – unlike conventional spotlights – does not cause extreme heat. We do not pack anything in plastic film, but use reusable, robust foldable boxes. We book catering from regional providers, and on arrival, departure or for transport during the fair we rely on pre-booked collective taxis, public transport and joint arrivals and departures. We do not have disposable dishes and we use returnable bottles. Sustainability has become a matter of course for us.

Ecological and sustainable trade fair stand construction and event design – sounds expensive and elaborate?
In the short term, some things cost a little more. But in the medium term we are even cheaper, e.g. by using almost all the materials many times, not using packaging material in the first place or saving travel and personnel costs because we take on tasks for several customers at a trade fair.

What do customers say about your sustainability concept?
At the beginning the savings potential was of course not apparent and we had to work hard to convince people. Today, however, customers appreciate our commitment to saving resources and have also recognised the positive image effect for themselves. In order to document this, we put up a notice board at our trade fair stands pointing out the sustainability concept for the stand construction. This enables our customers to demonstrate to their trade fair visitors that a trade fair stand also functions perfectly from the point of view of sustainability.

Mr Moritz, thank you very much for the interview.

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