Typically the brand name "tesa" makes people think immediately of transparent adhesive film or helpful masking tape for painting. But nowadays, this largest subsidiary of the Beiersdorf Group manufactures more than 7,000 products that are primarily found in smartphones, tablets, electric cars, active ingredient patches or building facades. In addition to this, tesa products are used to optimise processes in many industrial sectors, for example the field of "flexo printing."
The company achieves 75 percent of its revenue through industrial applications. "Up to 130 high-tech adhesive strips are installed in one modern car," explains Gunnar von der Geest, Manager for Corporate Communications. "Adhesive technology in its various facets is an enormous market for the future. Many things that are still riveted, bolted or welded now will soon be attached quickly and securely using adhesives. Globally, around 500 employees, more than one in every ten tesa team members, are working in product and technology development," adds the spokesperson.
To maintain its leading position in this future-oriented market, tesa opened its new headquarters in Norderstedt in January 2016. For more than 120 years, the research centre, technology centre and tesa headquarters were established in the buildings of the parent group Beiersdorf in Hamburg’s Eimsbüttel district. "But at some point the offices and labs were bursting at the seams, with departments spread across multiple streets or floors, making collaboration difficult," reports Gunnar von der Geest. "Our vision was to create a modern campus for our 1,000 employees in which all departments are interconnected and where project teams can be continually rearranged."
The company looked at roughly 70 locations in and around Hamburg, ultimately deciding on the Nordport commercial area in Norderstedt. "Here we found not only an ideally dimensioned space, but also many other excellent conditions," explains Gunnar von der Geest. "For example, the property couldn’t be located right next to the motorway, because our high-tech equipment is often very sensitive to vibrations. On the other hand, its proximity to the airport is perfect, as half of the 4,700 tesa employees work internationally and the company therefore relies on a lively international exchange – not just via video conferences. Business partners also often come to visit us to participate in the development of new products directly on site."
With the claim "One Tesa," tesa launched the largest investment in its company history in September 2012. Even before the ground was broken, tesa received comprehensive support from the NORDGATE city of Norderstedt with its business development office EGNO. "The chemistry was spot on from the beginning," reports Gunnar von der Geest. "The administrators did much more than just make the space available to us. They immediately adopted our perspective as a company and in every phase they helped us to consider what we needed and how it could be achieved." This also included understanding of the somewhat reserved enthusiasm among tesa employees at the beginning. "A number of employees initially found it difficult to leave the extremely popular Eimsbüttel district in Hamburg. The city of Norderstedt organised some city tours for us, which was very well received by everyone," says Gunnar von der Geest.
After a construction period of 3 years, the relocation of 1,000 employees was carried out in three phases starting in July 2015 – a logistical feat that was also accompanied in communications by the storytelling model of a "hero’s journey" to prepare employees for the change early on and get them excited. In the development division alone, 90 plants had to be disassembled and then reassembled. The relocation of 700 office employees, along with all IT technology and 7,000 boxes, was carried out over a single weekend. "It was like open-heart surgery, because we had to remain fully operational at all times," reports Gunnar von der Geest. "Hanging a sign on the door that said ‘Temporarily closed due to relocation’ was not an option..."
The new headquarters quickly conquered a firm place in the hearts of tesa employees. Benefits such as the large canteen, a fitness centre, a car park with 600 spaces and sanitary facilities with independent showers for cyclists fulfilled all their wishes. Above all, the modular space concept is a decisive competitive advantage for tesa. "In the course of new developments, for example in the area of e-mobility or e-commerce, we continually need to put together new project teams," says Gunnar von der Geest. "Now our employees can move around easily within the building and start working together immediately. This speed is a significant success factor on the market." The employees have also settled well in Norderstedt. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams regularly participated in city runs or dragon boat races. tesa and Norderstedt have a connection that seems built to last!