Stefan, please tell us about your start at GeKu. How did you come to this company?
I was able to accompany GeKu almost from the beginning. After studying mechanical engineering, I ended up at the company by chance, as I knew the founders Thorsten Gerling and Uwe Kruse personally from my previous employer. Back then, they were looking for people who would help them start the new company and I was their tenth employee, Therefore, I got to know quite a wide range of specializations and participated in almost everything. My focus was initially in construction, then later in sales and project planning.
What was it like to join such a young company?
At first, we were in a rather small, rented facility and the operation was still quite unorganized - as is the case in many small companies as they start out. After I joined the team, I got to co-found and build up the construction department. This topic would always follow me, because I was always involved in it somehow.
For a set period, I was working in sales with Jürgen Strank, who still has this role at GeKu today. The best part of the job was to accompany a project from sales to construction and final commissioning. In some projects, I was even present at assembly and was able to see how an idea or customer requirement turned into a large system with tangible products.
You were very much involved in GeKu's processes. How did you then switch to HAHN Plastics Automation in the USA?
Essentially, HAHN Plastics Automation was looking for someone who is also familiar with GeKu's products and systems, as these are also sold in the USA. When the management offered me this position, I thought it would be a great opportunity. Together with my wife and after consultation with our adult daughter, we then made the decision that it would be interesting to see something new in life again.
How did it go from an organizational point of view? How did you arrive in the USA?
In my case, for example, the move to the USA was paid for and there was a bonus payment for the purchases or expenses that you have at the start in a new country. My wife now has a work permit and can build her own circle of colleagues and acquaintances. Despite Corona, we also had the opportunity to see a lot within the country. So far, we have mainly explored the New England states and will soon travel further south and west. It is simply a great life experience to get to know a country and its people so intensely. I would especially like to mention the friendliness and helpfulness of the American people.
What is your everyday life like now at HAHN Plastics Automation in Connecticut?
I was hired as a Senior Design Engineer, which means I am doing construction again. At the same time, however, I also help with the offers or, if necessary, lend a hand in setting up a new line. Because this is still a relatively small location with currently 13 employees, the tasks are very varied and down-to-earth - there is actually always something that can be tackled.
How would you describe the companies GeKu and HAHN Plastics Automation to friends and acquaintances?
Due to the structure of the HAHN Group, but also the economic stability of the individual companies, both GeKu and HAHN Plastics Automation are safe and good employers. This is also very important for me. In addition, the projects are actually always pretty interesting and you don’t fall into a strict routine.
You already mentioned that HAHN Plastics Automation sells systems of the Material Handling Division in the USA. Can you explain this structure a little further?
HAHN Plastics Automation, Inc. in Connecticut specifically supports companies that are active in the production of plastic products and need automation or robot solutions for this. In addition to the products from GeKu for the electronics industry, we also rely on systems from Waldorf Technik for the healthcare industry and WEMO enables the handling and packaging of plastic parts with the help of linear robots. All three companies are united within the HAHN Group in the Material Handling Division, which results in many synergies and positive contacts.
How exactly does the cooperation look like here?
Because we work with GeKu, Waldorf Technik and WEMO, we are in close contact with the locations in Germany and Sweden. But we are also supported by other HAHN Group locations around the world. For example, we have already had colleagues from HAHN Automation from Mexico or the Czech Republic on site. In the event of capacity bottlenecks, on the other hand, we can always rely on another location to help out a little. For example, we receive certain production parts from HAHN Automation in Germany, which provides them to us in the desired quality. Overall, there is a strong exchange with all HAHN Group companies and we have committed and competent people everywhere.