Moving forward, with Fakuma founder's vision leading the way

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Photo by Plastics News Bettina Schall (l) CEO of Schall GmbH and Co KG and Annemarie Schur Head of Fakuma at Fakuma Friedrichshafen, Germany, 17.10.2017. Photo: Plastics News/ Caroline Seidel

When Bettina Schall talks about her late husband, sometimes her eyes moisten, but a smile remains as she remembers.

She remembers the ambition, the vision and the optimism of Paul Schall, who founded and oversaw the Fakuma trade show for decades. His passing last year means this year's version is the first without him.

"I will continue his life's work," Bettina Schall said on the opening day of this year's show. "I think we can do it.

"For me, he was a very optimistic and a very innovative and open person," she said. "He had a very great mood for a risk.

"The focus every time was forward. The vision was in the future."

So when Betinna Schall found herself a widow, there was never a thought of giving up the business or turning Fakuma over to someone else.

"I think it was his spirit to be open, to be very innovative, to have the mood for risk and to be the first," she said.

Fakuma, like most businesses, started out small. Very small. What began as a regional plastics event has turned into a global attraction. It's been an organic journey, growing over time, she said.

Life can be hard without her husband, Schall said. The couple made a good team. Now, she no longer can rely on him.

"I think we had a very good relationship and a very good team. If you have been a very good team over many years, it's a new situation. You are alone and you must make the whole decisions. And you have to take responsibility for the company and for the employees and exhibitors," she said.

That trust between a husband and wife, she said, is irreplaceable. Even in the business world.

So part of owning Fakuma now becomes keeping Paul Schall's vision in place. "For me, it's a very important thing because he was a very individual person and a very dynamic and strong person," his wife said.

"It's a new situation, but we have a very good [employee] team. And I think that we are responsible to continue his life's work," she said. "And for me, my heart said it is a very important thing to do this for me and for him.

"I will continue his life's work, and I think we can do it for the next time and for the future. ... It was a very great vision of my husband that I would continue the company with the employees. To him, it was very important," Schall said.

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