Room for creativity, smooth productions and great films

Room for creativity, smooth productions and great films

After working for two major US investment banks and a German private equity firm, Dr. Stefan Laucher established an independent, equity-financed private equity firm for German SMEs. His first stake in the IT company GABO in 2009 was later followed by investments in enterprises in the capital goods and media sectors. SL Unternehmensbeteiligungsgesellschaft mbH is a private company owned by Dr. Laucher.

Dr. Laucher, five years ago you bought Ludwig Kameraverleih, now you have acquired Media Services GmbH. Considering your background, what was it that piqued your interest in companies in the film industry?
I came across Ludwig Kameraverleih by chance in 2017. The founder wanted to retire and was looking for a buyer for his company. As a big film fan ever since my childhood, I saw it as a good opportunity for me to combine work with pleasure - "opportunity meets passion" so to speak. I wasn't actively looking for a company in the film industry, I was just keeping my eyes open for good opportunities.

Why now another company from the film industry?
One thing simply led to another. I took a close look at the industry and it didn't take long before I knew that I wanted to offer customers end-to-end solutions from a single source. Ludwig Kameraverleih was and is an outstanding distributor of modern cameras and special lenses. MBF Filmtechnik, with its locations in Frankfurt and Hamburg then followed, because its venues and expertise in camera, lighting and stage were a perfect complement to the strengths of Ludwig Kameraverleih. With the acquisition of Non Stop Film Service in Warsaw, we were then in a great position to offer customers our high standards of quality and service in the rapidly growing Polish market. And of course, it wouldn't be full service without post-production, so the company formerly known as ARRI Media made total sense.

So you're in for the long haul?
People often associate private equity companies with buying in order to offload again fast. That is not what I want to do. My company has exactly one shareholder and that is me, so I can act without red tape. I bought these companies to improve them for the long term; to structure them strategically in such a way that they can be lastingly successful. For example, in the equipment rental business. Here, with "Screen Green", we are setting up Ludwig Kameraverleih and MBF Filmtechnik with environmentally friendly film production technologies, especially in the field of lighting. In the last two years we have invested almost two million euros in modern LED lighting and environmentally friendly generators. It will take years for these investments to reach a financial break-even. That's not something I would have done if I had wanted to merely bolster up the company for a quick sale.

You have to love what you are doing if you really want to make a lasting success of it. That's why I took over the helm myself. I am captaining Ludwig Kameraverleih and MBF Filmtechnik together with Ernst Feiler because I'm convinced of the strategy.

How do the companies fit into your overall strategy? What is your vision?
In all of my companies, I don't just offer our customers individual products or services, but comprehensive solutions. The customer is always the focal point for me – in this case the filmmakers, production companies and distributors. With PHAROS - The Post Group, Ludwig Kameraverleih, MBF Filmtechnik and Non Stop Film Service - The Rental Group, we cover the entire range of services and needs in film production, partnering with filmmakers in each and every phase of their projects. As a full-service provider, we offer them complete support from a single source "from script to screen". And in doing so, we give them the freedom to be creative, run smooth productions and make great films.

Media Services GmbH is now called PHAROS - The Post Group. What is behind the name?
The name has strong symbolic power: just as PHAROS, the famous lighthouse of Alexandria, once stood as a guiding beacon for ancient seafarers, our company stands for the orientation and peace of mind that we offer our clients for their projects, so that they can safely navigate their course to their destination. By the way, we chose the new brand name together with the team as a whole.

Where do you see the company group in five years?
Together with Ludwig Kameraverleih, MBF Filmtechnik and Non Stop Film Service - The Rental Group, PHAROS - The Post Group will be "the place to go" for all filmmakers, where they will find the entire gamut of technology and services they need for a perfect production, from camera, lighting and stage technology to post-production, restoration, software development and worldwide distribution services. One provider of services and solutions that covers all needs, helps drive technological change and offers the latest technologies. And we are also "the place to be" for all employees who want to work together with an innovative, great company that always keeps a strong focus on the needs and wants of our people.