Over the years, Optima has certainly gained a lot of experience organizing large events. However, this event was truly unique – not just because of the impressive number “100” in the title or the high-profile guests, but because of the special circumstances.
How do you properly celebrate a major corporate anniversary in times marked by a pandemic that is still not completely over? A celebration that welcomes Baden-Württemberg’s Minister President Winfried Kretschmann and other guests of honor in a fitting manner – and at the same time includes the colleagues of the large Optima family at all locations worldwide?
The solution was a hybrid event in a class of its own. This meant combining a live on-site experience – unfortunately with only a few guests of honor in person due to the Coronavirus pandemic – with virtual elements that can include a large number of participants. It required almost 1,000 online connections, including transmissions to large screens at the headquarters, as well as screens at the Optima subsidiaries. This was no ordinary feat, even for the event and IT professionals at Optima.
The venue was Optima Pharma’s new state-of-the-art CSPE Center II, which, due to good timing, was officially inaugurated at the same time as the anniversary.
After countless weeks of intensive planning and organization, the celebration started on May 5, 2022 at 2:00 pm in Germany. Host Dr. Rudi Meidl kicked off the program. After welcoming the audience in his usual entertaining way, he handed the microphone over to Hans Bühler.
Mr. Bühler stepped onto the stage to both host and celebrate the occasion, as well as offer his congratulations. He congratulated the state of Baden-Württemberg on 70 successful years and presented a miniature statue of the Stuttgart TV tower, made by Optima Manufacturing. Following Hans Bühler’s speech, the recipient of the good wishes, Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, took to the stage. His presentation and speech left a lasting impression.
Kretschmann found the right words to honor the achievements of 100 years of Optima. He mentioned current challenges but was optimistic that the company would succeed in overcoming them.
“Companies like Optima are beacons. They accept every challenge, reinvent themselves time and again and put their heart and soul into their work – and have done so for 100 years. In regards to two topics that are shaping our economy profoundly, digitalization and sustainability, Optima has taken the reins and is making Baden-Württemberg a more attractive location for innovative companies.”
“Creative beacon company”, “Best-of-Baden-Württemberg” – Kretschmann had ample praise, but did not gloss over the more difficult underlying conditions, such as the war in Ukraine, the pervasive supply chain issues and many other challenges that demanded restructuring. Nevertheless, he is optimistic about the future. While “one company and one country (...) can’t save the world,” he said, “they must show others that it can be done and demonstrate the economically sound way forward.”
Kretschmann was impressed by a tour of the Optima Pharma facility he had taken two hours earlier, joined by Harald Ebner, member of the German Federal Parliament, Jutta Niemann, member of the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament and Jutta Parpart, the organizer of the visit.
“It was an exciting and a rewarding facility tour. It is stimulating to see something like that!” Winfried Kretschmann made a striking appearance and sent a sign to others from the modern CSPE Center II in Schwäbisch Hall.
The diverse and international world of Optima today was demonstrated by the heartfelt video greetings from the employees at sites around the world, some of them produced quite elaborately. Although the videos varied in design, they were all full of enthusiasm, pride and joy. The large digital map of the Optima world and its individual locations, from China to the USA, from India to Brazil, was very impressive and showed the global strength of joint forces. Afterwards, representatives of the Heilbronn-Franken Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Schwäbisch Hall district paid their respects. The district of Schwaebisch Hall presented Hans Bühler with the medal of honor for his entrepreneurship and several certificates for Optima.
The emotional highlight of the day was reserved for Hans Bühler himself. One question people always ask him: How do you get a company to its 100-year anniversary? His answer: “I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and remembered a song that describes it very well.”
He began quoting the lyrics in English:
The people on site, in the subsidiaries, and the ones watching the ceremony on their screens certainly understood the significance of the lyrics and why it struck
a chord with Hans Bühler, and probably with the entire company.
„May you grow up to be righteous,
may you grow up to be true.
May you always know the truth
and see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
stand upright and be strong,
may you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy,
may your feet always be swift,
may you have a strong foundation
when the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
and may your song always be sung.
May you stay forever young,
forever young, forever young.”
Bob Dylan, Forever Young
Bühler also expressed his gratitude for the outstanding commitment of the employees worldwide and paid special tribute to the successful planning and organization of the event. The end of his speech was short and sweet, as usual: “Bye bye, see you later!” And with that, he was off. Chances are, even on this day, there was still some urgent business to be conducted.