How less becomes more

The design company less'n'more produced luminaires for machine lighting until it discovered the sales potential of its products with private customers. But their bank refused to provide start-up financing. The financial requirements were simply too low for the internationally active group. The fact that the Pulheim-based company is nevertheless well positioned in the market today is thanks to the foresight of a regional financial partner. This company headquarters fits the bill. Historic brick on the walls, the interior furnishings of wood and metal exude simple elegance. In a former rolling mill at Pulheim railway station, Kai Steffens and Christian Dinow develop and produce designer lamps, furniture and home accessories. The company name less'n'more says it all: the design is convincing with its distinguished restraint.

Small financial needs as a big hurdle: Oliver Kaul and Christina Fried like to drive out here. The corporate account managers at Volksbank Remscheid-Solingen eG have been looking after the design entrepreneurs for three and a half years. "We like the concept, the chemistry is right," says department director Kaul. And so does the economic perspective of the company. This development could not have been foreseen in 2010. Steffens and Dinow wanted to create a new company with their Red. Dot Award-winning luminaires into the private customer segment. A logical entrepreneurial step, but one that entailed a major financial investment. And the previous bank did not believe in the concept, as Kai Steffens explains: "We were told that the financial requirements were too low and that this would not be profitable for the bank. In addition, the contact person changed six times during what was a critical phase for us." For Steffens and Dinow, this was a good reason to look for alternatives. And the native Remscheiders found them in their hometown. With the support of Volksbank Remscheid-Solingen eG, the necessary financial injection was set in motion, and a KfW loan was also provided.

Growth through trust: "We are very happy to support further developments," affirms Oliver Kaul. The corporate client advisor does not want to accept that start-up or growth loans for young companies are risk financing. "There are no hundred percent guarantees. But we have always accompanied small and medium-sized enterprises and analysed the corresponding plans of the clients in detail," Kaul clarifies. Colleague Christina Fried explains the procedure for assessing loans: "We look closely at how the company presents itself, the quality of the products and whether the commitment of the owners is right." The assessment of whether to grant a loan is not based on short-term hopes of returns for the bank, but on the long-term perspective of the company. And so Volksbank Remscheid-Solingen eG less'n'more granted the money despite the small loan amount. To date, less has become more: Residential luminaires account for around 80 percent of the Pulheim-based company's turnover.
Nine people are employed and a new growth area has also been identified: home accessories. Financing partner this time as well: Volksbank Remscheid-Solingen eG.