From the outside, Trigema in Burladingen, Swabia, where the sports and leisure clothing manufacturer is based, is a leading company. Senior Wolfgang Grupp publicly advocates for Germany as a production location, something rare in the textile industry. He announces that he buys all raw materials for Trigema clothing in EU countries and has not resorted to shortened hours or layoffs for more than 30 years. He even goes so far as to guarantee employees a job or training position at Trigema for their children.
The Swabian businessman, who likes to travel in his own helicopter to his appointments, represents the local middle class like no other. And he's always willing to say a pithy saying: In times of crisis, he recently told SWR that he doesn't rely on politics, but rather he sees himself in the role of a doer. For him, problems are there to be solved: “For me, anyone who has a big problem is a failure.” Because every problem was once small and if you had solved it when it was small, you wouldn't have a big one. .
At the end of the year, 81-year-old Wolfgang Grupp resigned from almost all of his positions and duties in the company and entrusted the management of the company to his wife and two children. Wolfgang Grupp Jr. is already making himself known when he also declared to the regular broadcaster SWR: “I have not completely lost hope in our political system yet.” There is no doubt: the family is one of those medium-sized business dynasties. , of which more rather than less are needed in this country.
Actually there should be more
But these legends also have another side, and they become public when employees talk about the boss and the company, where they can hide behind anonymity: on social networks and, especially, on employer rating portals. On the one hand, this is unfair because those who are publicly attacked do not know who they are dealing with. On the other hand, it protects informants and is relevant information for those who consider themselves, in this case Trigema, as a potential employer. And these people are currently discouraged from applying to Burladingen.
The most recent trigger for criticism of the main partner and his company was a television appearance by the Grupp's father, in which he reported that a bankruptcy administrator had enthused him about how profitable a bankruptcy could be for him. “If something like this is possible in a constitutional state and the insolvency law firm is not immediately dissolved, then I'm sorry,” Grupp complained and received approving comments about X. He is not such an employee. He wrote: “I think we have celebrated enough of the boss of a thankfully bygone era. He has fired enough employees because for him there are only blacks and whites.”
“Infested works council”
The criticism is nothing more than an isolated case. On employer rating portals like Kununu, a Trigema administrative employee writes about a “disappointing company” with an “infested works council.” There is a lot of emphasis on looking good to the outside world. “Unfortunately the opposite happens.” Another writes: “Anyone who knows how to crawl well and always say 'yes' is encouraged. Anyone who is technically competent and says what he thinks (really) stays small.” The direction aims to be an ideal world everywhere. But unfortunately, especially the young bosses are very distant. “The top boss is more old school and you could talk to him if you had problems.” Older colleagues are often “belittled and pushed out by new management because they have old contracts and therefore cost more money.” A third answers briefly and succinctly to the question of what is good about Trigeme: “Nothing.” When he is asked what seems bad to him, he writes: “Everything.” In “Communication”, the portal entry says: “Roar”. A fourth person writes: “On TV, Trigema sounds like he won the lottery. In fact, it is the opposite. It's a shame actually. You could have gotten a lot out of this company. Too much.”
Many entries have something in common: the complaint about modest salaries. At least for the new ones, there is no bonus, no vacation pay and only 25 days of vacation. Trigema does not fare well on other employment evaluation portals either. For example, Indeed says of potential applicants: “If you just want to make a little money, that's fine. But it is definitely not a company for the future.”
Trigema herself responded to the request as follows: “We want all colleagues to enjoy coming to work every day.” As for the salary, they say: it is regulated by collective agreements and there are numerous benefits, such as a company pension plan, bicycle rental. and a fitness pass. For all employees who joined after 2005, holiday and Christmas bonuses will be paid in excess of the regular annual salary. The company has been avoiding reduced working hours and layoffs for more than 50 years and guarantees its employees' children a training position or a job after finishing school. With an average tenure of 16 years, compared to the national average for all companies of around eleven years in 2023, we are one of the most reliable employers in Germany.
So how do bad reviews arise? In fact, it is mainly critical comments that end up on review portals, because critics are often so angry that they vent their anger, while those who do well at a company tend not to comment. Entrepreneurs know this and react accordingly. For example, the Westphalian agricultural machinery manufacturer Claas, also a family business now in its third generation, has a human resources department that responds immediately – and with the same publicity – to criticism on rating portals. Some things are presented differently, but often there is also a thank you for the critical advice you would like to follow. At least this has not been the case with Trigema.