Innovative by tradition

We live change.

“We’ve always dared. Projects have come up that have brought about changes, opportunities to try out new things, to develop the company further,” says Reinhard List looking back. The way he describes the development of the family business gives you the impression that one thing has simply fitted seamlessly into another over the years.
Reinhard List grew up in his father’s workshop, so to speak. “As children, we wandered around the workshop as we liked. We could do some handicraft, we could plane, cut … everything. We were always here there and everywhere,” Reinhard List recalls his childhood. At that time, the joinery was still a small to medium-sized company. “Five to ten people worked there. And there was always a positive atmosphere. My father was a creative, reserved man. But he was also a leader. He was the first one at work in the morning. He was involved, looked after things … he was there for everyone. And me, I realised back then that I was part of a greater whole.”

Nevertheless, it was not at all certain to begin with that Reinhard List would enter his parents’ joinery business. When he finished his studies in 1976, he thought about setting up his own architectural office. “But then several things started to come together. My father´s state of health on the one hand and also the architectural projects at the company.” Reasons to stay.

1950

Franz List senior founds the List carpentry workshop in Aspang, Lower Austria, and services the local area. Since the company was established, List GC has been family-owned and is constantly driven forward by the deeply felt pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of the List family.

Front row, 2nd from the left: Franz List senior
Reinhard List & Theresa Ludwiger-List
“In the early 1980s, we received an inquiry about a building construction project in Poland. I was always interested in doing more. We converted the company into a limited liability company (GesmbH) so we could expand internationally. The aim was to use opportunities to build networks with other Austrian companies operating in the same area. I was also active in establishing the first contacts. Our order book grew and grew. At the time, customer appointments were held in our showroom in Vienna, where we presented and sold our own furniture ranges. That made good sense due to the proximity to Vienna airport. The premises were small, yet large enough to hold planning meetings or sampling sessions with our customers. It took a lot of personal commitment, a lot of personal effort and trustworthiness. Because back then,” he recalls, “contracts were much simpler, not so complex. What you could absolutely rely on was the quality of the handshake. It took trust.” That’s what you call an entrepreneurial spirit. Or as Theresa Ludwiger-List puts it, “pioneering spirit”.

“The important thing is to keep trying new things. Change is inspiration. At the same time, it’s important for a living pioneering spirit to find a foothold within the company. On the one hand it needs a stable routine and on the other impulses for development. Both have to be in balance. This attitude has always been evident in our company. Earlier on, it wasn’t as structured and organised as it is now, making it more goal-orientated. Anyway, the pioneering spirit is an essential part of our self-image and tradition,” she explains.

“Pioneering spirit is also about recognising and exploiting needs in other regions,” says Reinhard List, picking up the thread, “but for this you also need people who live this spirit and people you can trust; then one thing leads to another. That’s what happened in our case.” “And you need to identify situations and take the right action,” he adds. “It was a major decision to leave the building construction business. Then the MS Deutschland project came along.” The demands of a ship are, of course, quite different. “But things soon started going smoothly. We found technical solutions. We got things together,” he says.

1986

The furniture ranges Wien, Manifest and Epilog were developed in the mid-1980s. The design came from the pen of Reinhard List, who envisaged a traditional concept with innovative approaches for the furniture lines. The ranges were presented in the company’s own showroom at Walfischgasse 10 in Vienna and simultaneously offered at furniture fairs in Austria and abroad.

We had the courage back then to make the move.
That was the most important decision.“

Reinhard List

One that involved many other decisions. “The fact that we set up our own production facility in Bad Erlach was also a major decision,” Theresa Ludwiger-List interjects. “We gained independence as a result.” Since 2005, home for List GC has been Bad Erlach in the south of Lower Austria. What belongs together comes together here. Knowledge, craftsmanship and digital competence in the form of around 230 employees. “The company has developed a depth in its structure and routines, and that makes things more predictable. But the decisive factor is our employees,” says Reinhard List.

“That’s why employee development is so important. It’s about values, about a mission statement, about the question of what it means to work at List GC, what you can expect in the company and what the company expects from you,” Theresa Ludwiger-List continues. “We have been working long and hard on these issues over the past few years. We’ve discussed them with colleagues, listened to their opinions and with them discovered new perspectives. This contributes to a corporate culture that is positively perceived by everyone involved,” she emphasises. In a way, this approach already existed at List GC.

2007

Complex projects need more space to be handled professionally. Therefore, in 2007
we acquired a property in Bad Erlach and moved our departments by and by to the
new company premises.

For example, there is craftsmanship, which Theresa Ludwiger-List understands as professionalism, both in Manufacturing and in Engineering. Or the well-being of the employees. “As an employer, you have a responsibility to them and their families. If you know that they’re doing well, that their future is secure, if they enjoy coming to work, then you’ve created something and achieved a goal.”

This is why List Holding, headed up by Reinhard List and Theresa Ludwiger-List, was established as a “source of inspiration, as a pace-setter for important developments,” says Theresa Ludwiger-List. “List GC is on the right track with new ideas and approaches. List Holding is an essential factor in this and ensures the best all-round conditions.” And, it is also accompanying the transition to the next generation. “For me, this is above all about questions of culture and tradition,” Theresa Ludwiger-List explains. “Tradition is something that defines you. It involves rituals, togetherness. It is respect, a partnership of equals. By deliberately introducing new generations to the company, we show them perspectives and opportunities for constructive cooperation, which in turn has an effect on the company.” That is how tradition creates the basis for innovation.

Culture is like tradition. It’s there, it’s passed on, it’s sustained by everyone. And it provides answers to the questions about what we need and what’s valuable to us.“

Theresa Ludwiger-List