Over a 37-year period, from 1967 to 2004, I have witnessed the development of filter production at Marklkofen. I have performed various roles over nearly four decades. I started working in tool production as a lathe operator, before taking on the training of apprentices. In 1976, I moved to mass production and following the restructuring in 1992 I was promoted to head of production and some time later to deputy plant manager. I can honestly say that I have done almost every job apart from being the doorman! 😉
When I started to work as a lathe operator in Marklkofen in 1967, few people outside a radius of ten kilometres had heard of the plant. My former colleagues at the Eicher tractors Dingolfing plant heard about my interview and asked me: What sort of filters do they make then, cigarette filters or coffee filters? When you think about MANN+HUMMEL’s global presence today, it is clear that the level of awareness of the company has changed enormously.
The ‘world domination’ campaign, if I can call it that, gave me the opportunity to work with a great many top individuals. The production figures rose steadily. We had many years with record figures, even if we did have some sluggish periods to contend with along the way too. To give just one example, when I joined the company in 1967, we had two spin-on filter assembly lines. By the time I retired in 2004, we had nine. Automating production helped us to achieve an increasingly large number of pieces per minute. In the early days, we made maybe 15 spin-on filters per minute, whilst we were later able to achieve 35 pieces or more in the same time. Alongside my work as a lathe operator, I first took on the role of delivering industrial training to apprentices and then later became a full-time trainer. Industrial training had only started to be delivered to toolmakers and engine fitters in Marklkofen in 1966.
1976–1991: Dream job in mass production
In 1976, I moved to mass production and four years later I took over the management of that department. Mass production had not yet been assigned to the specialist departments. Two of us shared the responsibilities for the whole plant. Mass production was a perfect move for me – my real dream job. There was plenty to do at the end of the 1970s – we were still in the process of moving production from Ludwigsburg to Marklkofen. A lot of equipment and machines were either replaced or modernised. New investments were still being dealt with via Ludwigsburg in theory, but I was always involved whenever there was anything that concerned our plant. This led me to travel all over the world, even though in those days I didn’t speak a word of English. I visited a lot of European countries, America, South Africa and later China too. However, on that occasion I had already retired and was taking on an advisory role.
Period of restructuring
In 1992, one year before our long-serving plant manager Friedrich Ebertseder retired, I was promoted to head of production. The start of the 1990s brought with it a lot of changes. Although the order and employment situation was still relatively good in 1990, the number of orders started to fall dramatically round the middle of 1992 and only improved again during 1994. The new plant management focused on establishing a competitive cost structure. Increasing globalisation and international markets meant that Marklkofen was operating at a considerable disadvantage for the first time in its history and this had a noticeable impact on costs. This led to the organisational restructuring of Plant 4 into centres in 1995. I took on the role of heading up the centre for ‘spin-on filters’ initially and then later the centre for ‘parts’. The centre managers had a great deal of freedom when it came to making decisions within their areas, but were also responsible for their development.
I am grateful for and rather proud of my time at MANN+HUMMEL, where I was continually able to progress in my career, working my way up from lathe operator to management level.