Dr. van Marwick, what does respect mean to you?

“For me, respect is the basis of all cooperation and motivation. Respect is not subject to hierarchies. The boss doesn’t deserve more respect than any other employee”.

Who influenced you most?

“My father. He worked his way up from an apprentice to a manufacturing manager. He loved his job through to his retirement. It always impresses me when people do their job with affection, passion and dedication.

I’m also impressed by my colleague Dan Ekström from RKW Sweden. He has got excellent people skills, is quiet and calm with people and talks to every employee at least once a year. I like the matter of course, relaxed and modest manner of people in Sweden. We try to adopt this style at RKW Wasserburg, even when the Bavarian way of discussing is sometimes very different to the Swedish model”.

Whoever has a burning passion for his job can also burn out. How do you strengthen the work-life balance of your employees?

“We try to ensure that people enjoy going to work and their work. We react immediately when issues arise, we take complaints seriously and try to find rapid solutions.

One notices immediately that RKW is a private company; 100 % of the shares are in family ownership. The strategy is long-term and responsible and not just focused on short-term profit. This continuity ensures that people at RKW can give their best.

Our core expertise: Extrusion. This is a continuous and exacting process. It could be symbolic for our company and employee management”.

And what are you passionate about?

“For me, the most exciting thing is not the product but the work itself. I see myself as a general who keeps everything under control and gives directions. Our team’s work motivates me. The strong commitment and expertise of the people, their identification with the company, their confident and responsible actions. This requires leeway which my predecessor introduced and which I maintain. Production employees, for example, have the opportunity of swapping their line job for a project job or line development job for a couple of months. Such experiences strengthen understanding and responsibility. Technicians can run some areas from development to purchasing and sales on their own”.

Doesn’t leeway include sharing knowledge?

“Certainly. Transparency is promoted throughout the Group. Also by the Board. General Managers have insights which they pass on. In Sweden, all employees are informed about developments and successes by email once a month. Here in Wasserburg, we have monthly meetings and regular works meetings. This openness underlines solidarity and identification: With the company, the machines and the products”.

Very different people work for RKW….

“The variety makes the difference. If somebody likes change, they can work for one of our foreign plants and learn new things there. For people who like the predictable, they can stay here. But even here, things are never stationary. We don’t just develop products but also processes and the corresponding lines which we also build ourselves. The production workers are not just responsible for the nuts and bolts but also for the whole product and process. They can influence its properties and everybody can identify with his or her product”.