Embracing the motto "working better together" our management team decided to take us on a professional exchange event on 17th/18th May 2019 to Plaffeien in Switzerland, in fact, Schwarzsee to be precise.
What was that? A professional exchange? Now, doesn't that sound more like a holiday? No, you heard right, we, that is around half of ZECHA and MPK employees, were there to visit our business partner, EXTRAMET, an internationally operating hard metal manufacturer with a workforce of over 200. But, first things first.
At 6.15 a.m. on Friday 17th May 2019 a group of about 70 ZECHA employees met up in front of the company building. All were already keenly looking forward to the journey, as it is not every day that workers can combine an informative day with a pleasant trip. Once the coach had been loaded with all imaginable food and drink and naturally also some luggage, everybody sought out a seat in the double-decker coach, which then headed off towards Switzerland. We crossed the Swiss border without incident and pulled into a roadside inn for a generously timed midday break and some ample rations. Everybody could choose from a range of drinks, rolls, sausages, apples and all sorts of snacks. It was here that we also teamed up with the approximately 30 employees from our Swiss subsidiary MPK Special Tools, who had set out from Schwäbisch Gmünd onboard their own bus. Everybody enjoyed meeting up and re-establishing some old friendships. As a surprise, each participant also received a t-shirt sporting a logo especially designed for the professional exchange. Although the t shirts didn't fit all participants equally well, to see everybody in the same outfit made for a pretty picture nonetheless, and led to a greater feeling of togetherness.
And thus united, we were able to continue our journey to EXTRAMET, pulling up in front of the company building in Plaffeien after a good hour's drive.
Whilst in the bus we were divided up into groups of about 10 for a company tour. It was exceedingly interesting to find out how hard metal is created from powders of tungsten carbide, cobalt and nickel according to the required type. The entire manufacturing process from mixing the powders to pressing, shaping and sintering and extending to the grinding of the raw rods was graphically explained by the employees drawn from the respective departments. Not only did the insights gained lead some participants to think about incorporating what they saw into their own working environmental at MPK and ZECHA, but there was also ample opportunity to establish a host of personal contacts. One or more could have well grumbled about the extra work that almost 100 visitors involved, but EXTRAMET welcomed us with open arms and were glad to show us their EXTRAMET World. We were delighted about how much time EXTRAMET had found for us and they spared no effort in ensuring the success of the visit. Whilst half of the visitors went on a tour of the company, the other half was quizzed on their knowledge of EXTRAMET and Switzerland. The logical capacity and skills of participants were also put to the test in a darts match. Once "work" was over, everybody was invited to an Apéro which was held to mark the inauguration of the new EXTRAMET company building.
Some may well have thought that the day could get no better, but there was still one more highlight to come. Towards 6.30 p.m. we set off for the Schwarzsee Hotel. Unfortunately the weather was not at its best, which meant that we could only hazily guess at the impressive mountain panorama, but the view out across the lake and hotel meant that even the poor weather conditions were soon forgotten. After dumping their luggage in their hotel rooms, everybody rushed down to the winter garden for a communal evening meal. Even our new EXTRAMET friends were on hand and there was another chance for everybody to get to know each other better. We had a tasty meal and as a reward for the great day we serenaded our managing director Reiner Kirschner. As the evening drew in, our happy group retired to the hotel bar, which, however, and much to the disappointment of several participants, did not stay open as long as wished. Some courageous souls took advantage of the late hour to even indulge in an icy cold dip in the mountain lake - and believe me, if that didn't perk you up, nothing would.
On the Saturday morning, following a delicious breakfast and a group photo taken at the lake, local EXTRAMET staff took us on a guided tour around Schwarzsee. We were once again able to enjoy the invigorating mountain air and take in the idyllic landscape as well as chat to our hosts. Luckily the weather played along and we were spared any rain so that we could walk a good 4 km and stay dry. As a reward for this "effort" and as a farewell gift from EXTRAMET, each of us received a bar of Swiss chocolate and a piece of Le Gruyère for the homeward journey. And rest assured, not every gift managed to arrive back in Stein or Schwäbisch Gmünd intact - yummy!
We would like to extend our THANKS to our managing directors Stefan Zecha and Reiner Kirschner, who made the fantastic two days possible. We would also like to thank the organisation team - without it this professional exchange would not have been the success it was. Whether the food on the bus, the organisation of the overnight stay or the coordination with EXTRAMET - everything worked like a "Swiss" clockwork.
And last but not least, we would like to extend our cordial thanks to EXTRAMET and can well and truly understand the reasons behind the establishment of this close collaboration. We at MPK and ZECHA always felt welcome and completely at ease.
Figure 1: Schwarzsee group photo
Figure 2: EXTRAMET quiz
Figure 3: Walking tour around Schwarzsee
For more information:
ZECHA Hartmetall- Werkzeugfabrikation GmbH
Tel: +49 (0)7232 3022-0
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Tel: +49 (0)7232 3022-0
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