What makes the new boss of Herrnhuter Sterne tick and what she plans to do

Katja Ruppert from Zittau takes over as Managing Director on April 1. She explains what her next and biggest goals are with the well-known brand.
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Man sieht Katja Ruppert, die neue Geschäftsführerin der Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH
Katja Ruppert is the new Managing Director of Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH. Stars shine in her home all year round. She herself likes shades of blue and green, and warm colors at Christmas. © Matthias Weber/

From Anja Beutler

When Katja Ruppert drives to work after the Easter holidays, it is the same route as it has been for the past 19 years. And yet one detail is fundamentally different: the 42-year-old no longer drives the route as the person responsible for finance and personnel at the Herrnhut Stars Ltd.but as the new managing director. The Zittau native certainly has respect for this change. But she radiates security and confidence. No wonder: Ruppert knows the company, its developments and figures extremely well - and her colleagues know her. To a certain extent, the new boss has supported the important decisions of the past two decades with her predecessor Oskar Scholz, as she was always involved as the company's financier.

That is why she does not expect any fundamental changes when she takes over, she explains: "If I were to say now that I am doing everything completely differently, I would be contradicting myself." However, news is also inevitable in the future, as the Herrnhuter Sterne are currently embarking on their latest construction project. The excavators are currently digging into the ground on the plot to the right of the factory, literally preparing the ground for something new.

New construction project starts this year

What exactly Manufaktur is planning and where has been repeatedly rearranged in recent months. Initially, the company wanted to build parking spaces and an event building on the land opposite, i.e. on the other side of Oderwitzer Strasse. Quite It should look futuristic, with a "built-in" star spike as an attraction. This has been abandonedBeyond the road, parking spaces, an event area and an adventure trail are now to be created. However, the company wants to erect the building directly on the plot next door"The fact that we were able to buy this space only came about later," explains Ruppert.

And so a narrow extension will initially be built there - similar to the Entdeckerwelt on the left-hand side of the Manufaktur building. In it will be accommodate the cramped decoration room. The current five employees are currently living in the small, old, former office building to the left of the factory under less than ideal conditions. Some of them also use the specially erected pagoda in front of the entrance to the show workshop. However, this was never a permanent solution. In the new extension, they will therefore have more space, a sales room and facilities for their workshops, Ruppert outlines the plans.

The manufactory plans to build a new building on this site. The show workshop is the building in an inverted U-shape, the large house at the bottom left of the picture is also a production building. The railroad embankment can be seen at the top of the picture.
© Photo: Herrnhuter Sterne

Later, another building is to be constructed in the corner of the neighboring property. This is where the company wants to house the new adventure world with a museum, exhibition and attractions for visitors. "What the building will look like - with or without the Zacke - has not yet been decided," says the new Managing Director. The date for such a building is also not yet within reach. Quite different to the extension for the Dekostübchen: Work is due to start there this year. And in the future, it is also conceivable to increase the number of employees in the decoration department and thus increasingly offer online what is currently only available in the store.

The new boss also wants to focus more on changes within the company itself: "We have grown so much in recent years that we have tended to lag behind internally," she says, describing the situation metaphorically. In concrete terms, this means that the structure and distribution of tasks need to be reorganized and improved. She adds that her move to the position of Managing Director has now presented itself anyway.

Met husband in company

She will probably not change one position - that of the head of salesHer husband Jens Ruppert has been doing this for a long time. Doesn't that automatically take work home with you? "No, it's really rare that we talk about work after work, we can keep it quite separate," says Katja Ruppert. In a way, the Rupperts are also connected to the stars in their private lives: The two met at the company. The family has prepared for Katja Ruppert to take over the management of the company, as she has already taken over from prepared her predecessor Oskar Scholz for the management have been. "We are a good team and tick in a similar way," she says with conviction.

Perhaps the fact that the Rupperts don't live in Herrnhut also helps them switch off. "We live with our two sons in Zittau," she says. The family has everything they need there - including their own garden, which the Rupperts decided to do during the coronavirus pandemic: "I love working in the garden. It grounds you - quite literally - immensely," she says and laughs. Incidentally, the fact that she never really left her hometown of Zittau was more of a coincidence. After leaving school and studying for a degree in business administration at the university in Zittau, everything merged seamlessly: Katja Ruppert immediately started working at Herrnhuter Sterne GmbH.

In addition to all the new challenges, she will now pursue one goal above all: "To stabilize the success of the past decades," she explains. After all, producing around 850,000 Herrnhut stars of all colors, sizes and materials every year is certainly a challenge, especially in economically unstable times. Keeping the current workforce of around 200 employees stable or even increasing it is also not a matter of course in view of the many colleagues who will be retiring, she points out. But it hasn't been in recent years either.

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