Economy & Politics

Succession How Simba Dickie copes with the generation change

The Bobby Car is one of the most famous products from Simba-DickieSebastian Lock

There is enough space to let off steam in the Simba Dickie headquarters in Fürth. There the young company heirs move with exuberance through the nested “model rooms” in the functional building on the outskirts of the city. It’s insane with 4,000 square feet of toys. If you watch the goings-on like this, you might think that they are not all in their thirties – but still the very young heirs who were already romping around here in kindergarten.

But when it comes to who is now crawling into a playhouse for a photo, the old man rushes ahead. Michael Sieber, 64, but also blessed with the child in the man, folds up and grins out of the window of the plastic house. “Chef House” is on the outside, the chef’s hut. It’s clear who belongs in there.

This company, number four in the global toy business with annual sales of over 700 million euros, is his work, no doubt. Sieber has accumulated and made popular toy brands such as Bobby-Car, Schuco and Eichhorn for almost four decades. And he wants to continue the work. “I think it’s wrong to say: I quit at 65 or 70,” reports the senior. At some point that would happen by itself.

Not like the father

At the same time, the following applies: he absolutely wants to be able to let go. Trust the boy. Never do it like his own authoritarian father. Who had the notary come on his deathbed after three heart attacks because he wanted to control the company until the very end.

Sometimes cuddly, sometimes fast: Florian (back) and father Michael Sieber deliver teddies as well as Bobby Cars (photo: S. Lock)

That is, if you will, the dilemma of Michael Sieber – in front of the “Chef House” and in life: He would like to let his firstborn Florian, 34, whom he appointed co-CEO two years ago, and the company together with Sieber’s other sons and nephews. But Michael Sieber likes to talk, to plan too much himself, that he wants to give up the place entirely.

It is entertaining, agile, approachable. Why should he stop? When it started with Corona, even the cheerful Michael Sieber was depressed for a longer time. He thinks the whole measure is exaggerated. “What has been built up in two or three generations is now being painted on the wall,” he says with anger in his voice. “I’m an entrepreneur,” he explains. “For me it is unusual for someone to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do.” And now politicians tell him of all things, whose notion of business is too high for him. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has to force himself to be reluctant!

Because now it is the case that suddenly the son has to brake the father. The old man would love to be out in the world with his anger. But Florian has given him a “ban on speaking”, the father admits. It is obviously difficult for him to stick to it. It is a telling spectacle how the son tries to hold back the father without a word, but with strict sideways glances when it pushes out of it again. And how the father oscillates between not being able to hold on and having to submit.

“The fact that we have different views is certainly also due to the generations,” says the senior. “The younger ones see it a little more relaxed and sober.” Sober than he and his loved ones who did everything, that means. Sober, because they still have time. Michael Sieber doesn’t have one. Basically not, and certainly not for lockdowns.

Related Articles

Back to top button