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Master metalworker Johann Sigmund talking about the MEVACO "get-together":

The steel construction company Stahlbaubetrieb Schmid on the Jurassic bluffs of the Swabian Alb was originally a blacksmith's workshop. Today, Johann Sigmund manages the business of the company which is now 110 years old, and is where his father learnt his trade. The 50-year old master metalworker runs to keep fit. In the discussion on the MEVACO get-together we also learn about the history of a successful business succession, which is by no means usual in craft trades.
Mr Sigmund, how many employees do you have?

We have 9 workers. The number of staff has nearly doubled in the last 4 years. When I took over the company 4 years ago there were 5 workers.

How big is your workshop?

The steel area is 400 square metres, the stainless steel area 200 square metres. They are strictly separated because stainless steel is very sensitive.

How is your customer base made up?

Private customers form 70 % of our base. We get around a lot in the area: from Stuttgart, Endersbach, Heilbronn to Ditzingen.

How do you get orders?

I don't advertise at all - we have never placed an advertisement. The only thing we do is to take part in the festival in the local industrial area. Lots of people come to it.

Mr Schmid Senior joins us in the office. The 70-year old former boss of the company joins our conversation in a cheerful mood, and speaks briefly about the company history:

(Günter Schmid:) I managed the company as a member of the fourth generation. My father trained Mr Sigmund's father. And Mr Sigmund Senior then trained me. And the circle has now been closed again… (laughs). It's a little confusing and many people find it hard to believe, but that's the way it is. A metalworker was and is a great profession! I have been able to accomplish many things, and could also overcome difficult challenges. That's what drove me forward. I enjoy it - we really get on very well with each other. He (he means Johann Sigmund) says it's the best he could imagine. And I say, it's the best I could imagine. (Johann Sigmund:) We looked for something and found it together. It's a rare occurrence for things to go as well as they do with us!

That sounds enormously positive. But is there something that disrupts your work that you would like to change?

Laughs out loud: A computer should be invented in which a sheet of paper is inserted and the finished offer comes out…look here, they are all offers that I have to write (he points at a cart full of suspended folders) .. that's lots of work.

What typifies a good supplier for you?

He must deliver what he promises. Reliability is the most important thing. Whether something takes one day or two, is not so important for us. But when I know that I need it on a certain day,it must come then.

What do you value about MEVACO?

The MEVACO delivery service is super.

Mr Sigmund, what was the reason you took part in the MEVACO get-together?

I wanted to see what suggestions my fellow metalworkers would make. To find out whether we all have the same thoughts. I have known MEVACO for a long time, and I know Karl Fischer, your sales manager at the Weilheim branch, from football. The last time I was at MEVACO was for a tour 15 years ago. And I have to say: What MEVACO has achieved lately is really fantastic. The production workflows are so well organised, the processes are highly automated, so that it's as different as day and night to earlier. Phenomenal.

" The production workflows are so well organised, the processes are highly automated, so that it's as different as day and night to earlier. Phenomenal."

Yes, we have changed a lot in recent years: We have rebuilt, this has significantly accelerated the flow of materials, and we have introduced guaranteed delivery times for desired products. What is also new is that we are seeking even more interaction with our customers. What do you think of that?

I think it's good. "I would like to get to know the people who sit on the other end of the phone. I don't want to speak to someone over the phone for years and he is suddenly no longer there. And then I think: what did he actually look like? At the get-together I only knew Karl Fischer. I got to know Ms Fleer and the others who went through the production with us.

How did you profit from the interchange with your colleagues and with a manufacturer?

We exchanged experiences among each other. Such as: how does the other metalworker make a railing? I could also get some new ideas. As I said, I find it good that I now know the people at MEVACO personally. And I now know that MEVACO has a laser cutting machine.

"And that the workflow in production is so consistently applied is something that really amazes me. Well done, really! "

What did you like in particular about production management at MEVACO?

How clean everything is at MEVACO: everything is so well-ordered, the people are so tidy. That was very impressive. And to be honest, I hadn't expected that.

Has your impression of MEVACO changed due to the get-together?

I already knew, of course, that MEVACO is a good company. But I would never have thought that everything is so clean there. And that the workflow in production is so consistently applied is something that really amazes me. Well done, really!

Will you also come to the next get-together?

Yes, of course!!!

What are you proud of in your work?

„Actually of everything: when I come here in the morning, I switch on the light and then it starts. I live for everything that happens here. I'm happy that I'm here. I am proud of the people who work for me. “

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