“Gained a foothold in England – started from scratch in Germany.”

Thomas from Industrial Engineering went out into the world at an early age. Having completed his engineering degree, he set out to broaden his horizons. He gained a foothold in England and stayed there for almost 20 years – eight of which he spent as plant manager for HBPO in Banbury. But then it was time for a new chapter. Returning to HBPO headquarters in Lippstadt turned into a major adventure.

England as a stepping stone

Thomas had dealt with the subject of cars in depth during his degree – he wrote his final thesis at Daimler in Stuttgart. He quickly found that this was the branch for him.

He got off to a flying start as a young professional, as a project manager in England. He didn’t like the country at all at first – but he really enjoyed his development project. He didn’t feel at home for the first eighteen months and spent the next three years more or less living out of a suitcase. As a result he spent two weeks living in England, one in Germany. For his then employer, he was appointed as the manager responsible for building up a new plant – and settled near Birmingham. “As the plant manager, you always have complete responsibility – not only from Monday to Friday,” Thomas finds. He did the job for nine years – and then the plant had to be closed. A very difficult time for him. As a team player, he found the winding-up process extremely hard.

Yet the timing was right, because at the same time HBPO was on the look-out for a new plant manager for its Banbury plant. That was in 2009 – the start of his journey with HBPO.

Banbury – a passionate HBPO plant

Thomas caught a head-hunter’s eye at the time. With his years of experience as a plant manager and the positive aspect of having settled in well in the country in the meantime made the decision easier.

So he took over a plant that was already very well structured and working smoothly. The new boss quickly noticed that he had a great team to manage. The team spirit is something he has always remembered – because it has always been important to him. “The job as plant manager was fulfilling. I had a fantastic team and we were producing modules for our great customer MINI,” says Thomas. A lot of lifeblood and commitment went into his eight years of management of the HBPO plant. And his employees were passionate about their work too. However, Thomas wanted to return to Germany for private reasons. HBPO values development and offers opportunities. Thomas was given one as the head of the Industrial Engineering division.

 

New start as a challenge

It shouldn’t be that difficult – being German – to return to the German headquarters? Yet it was at first. Thomas had spent almost 20 years living and working in England. He had experienced and lived the culture, the people and the way of working. And having been born in Hesse, he was familiar with Lippstadt only from his visits as plant manager; working and living in Lippstadt was a quite different challenge.

As head of the Industrial Engineering team he accepted this challenge and started out on a new adventure. With his “management team” he reorganised the almost 30 colleagues. He lives out the team spirit he had always valued in Banbury in Lippstadt as well. His team is target-oriented and efficient, its members guarantee a smooth production process by making sure production lines are available, for example. Thomas’ team spends a lot of time out of Lippstadt at plants all over the world. Under these circumstances it is not easy to create a good team spirit, but it is still possible with a team that represents the same values.

The Industrial Engineering team looks after the existing plants – when new machines are required for production, for example – as well as looking out for new locations for new plants. Thomas’ team had a première in 2018, when two new plants were built up almost simultaneously. Looking for a new location, coordinating the general contractor and investor as well as representatives from the local authorities – this was a completely new playing field and a great team effort in this dimension! In all these actions, the focus is always on innovation: again and again, engineers look at how they can optimise processes, make them more sustainable and remain “up-to-date” or keep a step ahead.

HBPO offers a fascinating working environment

Thomas takes an active part in shaping HBPO. “We are lucky enough to be able to shape our own future as a company. We live and work in a great branch with complex tasks and projects. Deadlines are always tight – but that makes my job more exciting and varied. Decisions have to be made often and quickly. But what is especially important is the human factor,” says Thomas in conclusion.

His employees are flexible, highly motivated and act on their own initiative. “Having sound expertise is not enough at HBPO. Character is important too and has to fit in with the team. We are looking for honest and open colleagues who have their heart in the right place – and want to be successful with use – in other words, motors of success!”