Dirk Rossmann promotes his new book in Warsaw
His drugstore is the biggest chain of its kind in Poland with over a 1,000 stores.
Dirk Rossmann’s career began with the battles he had with the German Army, the Bundeswehr. In 1964 he was called up to the army. Because the whole family made a living from the income of one family drugstore in which he also worked, he worried about its fate. Citing German law, he unsuccessfully applied for dismissal. He had a habit of not obeying orders. And emphasized that if the state disregards rights of its people like he, the citizen is not obliged to serve it. He went through a series of soldiers’ humiliations, including confinement in a psychiatric hospital. Ultimately, he expressed his rebellion with a spectacular tree climb. His superiors, gave up on him and dismissed him from service. Thus, the last order which concerned him was his first to be carried out. His friends say that they don’t know anyone more free than he. 📕
In his life he follows the principle taken directly from Schopenhauer’s writings: “people don’t succeed in life because they give up too soon”. He read the philosopher’s writings at the age of fourteen, using a German dictionary and a philosophical one. He has always absorbed books, he has a keen interet in classic literature, mainly Balzac, Goethe, Zola and Dostoyevsky. He learned psychology from books and conversations with people. 📕
Indigent and without means, he knew only one thing since he was a child: money gives peace and freedom, but his life motto was “to earn money to help others”.
“It may sound strange to someone from the outside, but at the age of ten I knew what I wanted to do in my life. First of all, my life was to be adventurous – I just wanted to experience something. Secondly, I wanted to make a good living. Not just for the sake of having money, but to be free from all constraints and dependencies that plagued my family. Man needs money to be free. It’s a simple truth. I wanted to earn enough to be independent and be able to decide for myself. And then I realized that I have always wanted to be independent: I do not have to explain to anyone, do not listen to anyone’s instructions.🎢
To this day, Dirk prefers to sweat rather than freeze. There was a constant threat of bankruptcy over his parents’ store. He was involved in daily business and customer service as a child: he received a pfennig for packing the samples that came with the purchase. Once a week he bought chocolate for the money he had to share with his brother Axel. 📕💲
When he was thirteen years old, he developed the prototype of the drugstore loyalty program, including the delivery of products to the customer and his gratification. He himself delivered the ordered goods to people by bicycle. His first employee was brother Axel, today he has 50,000. When he arrives at the company’s locations, he greets the employees with a handshake and a model of nineteenth-century manufacturers – he exchanges a few words with them. 🍾
He opened his first drugstore on March 17, 1974, a 120 square meter space. People lined up in front of it in a giant queue, because Dirk had earlier arranged for adequate publicity of the event, clever development of promotional campaigns and organizational efficiency to sell. There were so many people that the place had to be protected by the police, and Rossmann hastily improvised a second cash register – on the Persil box.
Today, the power of the Rossmann network is 4002 stores, 25 thousand various articles, 50,000 employees and turnover of EUR 9 billion exceeded in 2017. Dirk Rossmann does not have a smartphone, drives an eight-year car and does not use an Excel spreadsheet. He doesn’t hide his weakness for playing the stock market and casinos, although he avoids the latter. He emphasizes that in his life he decided on a lot of madness, but he was never disappointed in his intuition and guiding his emotions in business, with a sober head.🍾🏬📕💲
“My style of managing people today? Freely but consistently, sometimes very seriously and sometimes cheerfully. My goal is to create a good team with openness and honesty in a clear hierarchy. 🍾🎢🏬📕💲
The history of the Rossmann network development in Europe is fascinating, especially given the background of intense transformations of the last three decades on the continent. The division of Germany, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and development after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Polish capitalist transformations are not only observed from the perspective of an entrepreneur, but above all – a humanist. Rossmann reads a lot and thinks on his own – but he neither observes nor instructs. 🏬
His biography and personality is unusual and full of contrasts. He likes to go to perfume concerns, he can take risks, he does not question that he has speculated on the stock market many times, but above all he values honor and long-term relationships. A significant part of his book are descriptions of the history of his friendship with people who over time have become more than just business partners and contractors. Today we owe Gerhard Schröder’s wife and her dog Holly the entire dog product line – Winston. Dirk’s wife, Alice, started the Rossmann Ideenwelt line. 📕
Dirk Rossmann, “… and then I climbed a tree.” A tale of career, courage and life “, translated by Urszula Poprawska, ed. Sign, Krakow 2019.