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07/14/2010

The Networker

The consultant Gerd Kerkhoff from Büderich started up a network of 40 business people for the politician Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). In his private life, Gerd Kerkhoff also appreciates networks of good neighborly contacts.

By Heike Schoog

What brings a consultant – who has just been elected the quality leader of consulting in the purchasing business – to consult a politician and, what's more, one from the SPD? Gerd Kerkhoff (52) – headquartered with his Consulting Group at Grafenberger Allee in Düsseldorf – is the true professional who immediately has a smart answer: "There had been times in history where people had themselves get shot for their passion for democracy.", explains the graduate in business administration who lives in Büderich. "Today, it should be everybody's primary civic duty to get involved."

For him, as the consultant, his initiative therefore is not a question of party politics. "I'm not a member in any party", Kerkhoff makes it clear to prevent any misunderstandings. But he considers it important that politicians keep in touch with reality, and he wants to help them with it.

"As a consultant, I have contacts to many people in business", says Kerkhoff. And he says that he used and bundled these relationships: Kerkhoff's initiative has 40 members – predominantly business people from family-owned companies. They are to meet at regular intervals in the future. "In our meetings, discussions may even be controversial at times", says the consultant. SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel appreciates the group: "Important for me are the manifold opinions and perspectives I'm getting from this high-caliber team."

Airport proximity is important

In 1999, Gerd Kerkhoff surrendered his shares in the coffee roasting company Hubert Tempelmann (Dorsten). "I bought out the consultancy", says the wiry 52-year-old, who shortly thereafter dared a new start with Kerkhoff Consulting in Düsseldorf. "Düsseldorf is a good location for management consultants. Not only because of its proximity to the airport", says Kerkhoff. Meanwhile, his consultancy group has 150 employees in Germany. Sales: approx. € 32 millions. In addition, the group has branch establishments in eight countries.

The question of where to make his home had been more difficult for Gerd Kerkhoff and his family. "We wanted family-friendly surroundings", he said – himself born in the city of Essen in the heart of the Ruhr Valley. Together with his wife Stefanie, he decided on the Meererbusch section of Büderich – across the Rhine from Düsseldorf. "I appreciate the great, neighborhood solidarity in Meerbusch", says Kerkhoff. In addition, he says, it's very convenient especially for joggers, runners and cyclists. "In two minutes, you'll be out in nature." The father of three children is actively involved in the Büderich Foundation of the Catholic parish of St.-Mauritius and the Holy Spirit. Kerkhoff has been called in to join its board of trustees. And – always the good networker – he is also a member of the Meerbusch golf club. "But I find hardly any time to play."



RP-foto: ulli Dackweiler