Meeting our certified companies – HOLZ.LIEB.ICH
28 October 2021 Certification on the ground
In our interview series ‘Meeting our certified companies’, we speak with people on the ground, to learn about their views on sustainability and certification, and what impact PEFC certification has in their everyday work.
Our latest interview partner is Thomas Koy, Managing Director of HOLZ.LIEB.ICH in Bavaria, Germany, who told us about the importance of sustainability, regionality, and traceability for wooden products.
Can you give us a brief introduction to your company and its position in the market?
Holz Liebich was founded in 1948 by Max Liebich as a producer for wooden products. I bought the company in 2010 and repositioned it as a wood manufacturer.
We produce wooden packaging, displays and promotional items for customers in over 20 countries worldwide. We develop between five and eight new wooden articles per month in our own carpentry shop.
In 2017, we rebuilt the company site from scratch, using over 1,100 m³ of wood on 10,000 m². From the production site to the administration department and factory outlet, everything is built with local wood.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background? What are your main responsibilities within the company?
After having worked in the international management of the packaging industry, returning to Germany with the purchase of HOLZ.LIEB.ICH was a challenge for me and my family.
From Geneva to the Bavarian Forest, from US corporate structures to a family business, from speaking English at headquarters to working in a Bavarian dialect.
Responsibilities in the factory had to be redefined. Small and medium-sized enterprises often become successful when all employees work as equals.
I have taken over branding, and screen and digital printing in production. Also mowing the lawn and clearing the snow on the 15,000 m² property is a "matter for the boss".
How did you hear about PEFC?
We were looking for a unique selling point to emphasize our commitment to using exclusively sustainably and locally sourced solid wood.
When did your company obtain its PEFC chain of custody certificate?
In December 2018. After obtaining the certificate, the former Bavarian State Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forestry, his Head of Office and Ministerial Councillor from Munich, the Managing Director of PEFC Germany and Bavaria came to visit us to celebrate.
How has PEFC certification benefited your company and helped achieve your goals?
For over 50% of our wooden packaging, PEFC certification is required by our customers, especially when exporting to Japan, South Korea, Dubai or the USA.
Our regional label and our Google tracking are requested to individualize the wooden packaging from the wood factory in the Bavarian Forest.
A German TV station became aware of us and produced a report on PEFC, sustainability and traceability in 2020. (In German)
What does it mean for you personally to work for a company that takes its responsibility for forests seriously?
For me it means home, emotion and joy - and when biking in the surrounding forests and on the mountains, it simply means pride.
In your opinion, what role will sustainability and certification play in your sector in the future?
In marketing, sustainability is often used for all kinds of campaigns, that are usually not verifiable, but sold by agencies with pithy words and colourful pictures.
For us, authenticity is all the more important in order to exemplify how we have anchored sustainability in our company philosophy. We track the origin of the solid wood, travel with the forest owners to their forests, accompany the logging, take the geo-data and offer it to our customers as Google tracking data – even printed on the wooden packaging.
Although we are at home in the B2B business, this is how we redefine customer communication to the end consumer.