Christian Kirschbaum, Active International GmbH

Christian Kirschbaum

Editors' Note

As Managing Director-Germany for Active International GmbH, Christian Kirschbaum brings corporate planning and development as well as sales and marketing experience to the growing German corporate trade market. Prior to joining Active, he held various management positions with Viterra Energy, the world leader in metering services.

Company Brief

Pearl River, New York-based Active International (www.activeinternational.com) is recognized as the global leader in corporate trade, providing financial benefits to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry. Founded 27 years ago, the company acquires excess assets – including surplus inventory, real estate, and capital equipment – at up to full wholesale value in exchange for cash and/or a trade credit, which is used to offset future operating expenses. Active has led the industry in the development of new standards of excellence for the acquisition of assets, the effective remarketing of those assets, and the provision of an efficient means for its clients to use their trade credits. With offices in 16 countries, Active has created more than $1.5 billion in cash savings for its extensive client base since 1984.

How developed is Active’s market in Germany?

In comparison to the U.S. market, Germany is definitely not that developed. Active started doing business in Germany in 1999 and has become a market leader with roughly 100-plus existing clients. So it’s fruitful ground in terms of doing corporate trade.

Does the client base include a wide range of companies and industries or is it more focused on specific profiles?

We work with many different industries with the common issue of facing problems with underperforming or excess assets. This includes electronics, cosmetics, and publishing houses as well as the car industry, apparel, and food and beverages. It’s a range of industries.

These services you provide have value in good and bad times. Can you elaborate on how that makes sense?

It boils down to the individual situation a company is in. In good times, companies are more likely to launch more innovations and be more proactive and aggressive in terms of the number of units they produce. In a depression or a recession, they may be more focused on streamlining their warehouse situation.

Each individual economic situation offers individual requirements and motivations for doing business with Active.

Is there close coordination in terms of Active’s global footprint, not only in the U.S. but also internationally? And is the messaging and go-to-market platform similar?

We have progressed so that not only are we an international company with a global footprint and a global brand, but we are working more closely from an operational perspective across borders.

I had a meeting with a colleague from France to establish a business relationship with a company that has excess assets in Germany but needs our services in France. Active is heavily motivated to do cross-border offerings because it provides more options for our clients and further differentiates us since no other corporate trading company has this capability.

Is Active characterized as a media company?

I would classify our business as providing a financial solution that hinges around an excess or underperforming asset. While media is our largest service area, we also provide printing, travel, and event planning.

In Germany, for example, we have established a very strong multimillion-dollar printing business that is delivering catalogs, brochures, posters, and booklets to our clients. The scope of our business has developed far beyond media.

What excited you about this opportunity and has it been what you expected?

I was fascinated by a business model I had never heard of before joining Active.

When I joined Active in 2003, it had been established in Germany for three years and over the past seven or eight years I’ve been with the company, we have established a remarkable number of business relationships with blue chip companies and also with mid-sized companies. I’ve seen things develop that I hadn’t expected at all. The creativity and the potential are huge.•