May 25, 2016

My Global First-Year Project with PERI in Germany

By Nicholas Ritter T'17

Nick Ritter is a second-year student at the Tuck School of Business. Prior to Tuck, Nick worked as an electrical and product engineer for Nabsys, a biotech startup developing genomic sequencing technology. This summer, he will be working with IBM Watson's Life Sciences team in New York, NY. In his free time at Tuck, Nick is a Tripod Hockey Captain, Revers Energy Fellow, and admissions associate. He is also attempting to form a team to compete in the Tobogganing National Championships and hopes to ultimately create a Tuck Toboggan Club.

A team of Tuck students and I had the privilege of spending almost two weeks with PERI, a worldwide leading manufacturer and supplier of formwork and scaffolding systems, led by Alex Schwoerer T’02, a Tuck alumnus who is growing his family’s business in Ulm, Germany. To say that PERI was a phenomenal host is an understatement. With meetings that ran like clockwork, dinners in Ulm every night, and complete access to every business unit in PERI, the company generously opened its doors and gave us an inside look into how a successful German company runs.

On our first day, Alex and his management team began our visit with a tour of their headquarters and production plant. More than 90 percent of PERI’s formwork and scaffolding material is produced from the Weissenhorn location (just outside of Ulm). From highly automated production lines for making wooden girders to the semi-automated welding processes, PERI has invested significant resources to provide high quality scaffolding at a competitive price. In addition, having its production only a few feet away from the product development, sales, and marketing teams, PERI is able to more effectively integrate and streamline its new products’ life cycles.  Unfortunately, given confidentiality reasons, we were not able to take pictures of the production, but PERI still allowed us to examine every aspect of the process. Finally, we were fortunate enough to spend time with every team from legal to sales, and it was clear from the efficiency in our meetings (e.g. information sharing, timeliness, etc.) that PERI held high expectations for our project’s results.

And the adventure did not end with the visit to PERI. Our team spent every night in the quaint, historic town of Ulm, Germany. Alex treated us to traditional German schnitzel, käsespätzle, and weissbier, and we spent a few days touring the area to discover that Ulm is both the birthplace of Albert Einstein and has the tallest church in the world.  Not to mention, the people of Ulm were both friendly and accommodating in every possible way. For anyone considering an international FYP project next year, I highly recommend that you apply for this project. It was the perfect way to experience Bavaria and connect with new people in a foreign country.

Finally, I cannot give enough credit to the PERI team for how helpful and generous they were with their time and resources. Gerd and Carl, PERI’s Middle East representatives, spent the entire week in Germany solely for our project.  Alex’s assistant, Jan, hosted us for dinner several times and fulfilled every request we had for meeting with experts within the company. Also, anytime we wanted to speak with a PERI employee, we could reach them within minutes and setup a meeting immediately. Not only were all of PERI’s employees willing and able to answer our questions, but we could tell that they genuinely enjoyed meeting with us and were passionate about PERI’s products. All in all, this was a tremendous experience. I wish we could have stayed longer, and I left Germany excited that we could spend the next three months working with PERI from Hanover, NH.

Last but not least, PERI surprised me with a birthday wish (see below)!









What's a First-Year Project? We had a team of students who worked with Under Armour for their FYP explain.