Neither Andy Schrupp nor Jürgen Thielen can quote one specific anecdote to describe their jobs – and nor do they want to. For good reason. Each and every day they experience many new and exciting things, finding adventure in their ‘normal’ activities. Accordingly, there’s really also no such thing as a typical day in their field of work, says Schrupp. “I often don’t know which customer is going to confront us with which challenge. This makes my job both very interesting and very demanding, as I have to keep reordering my priorities.” Thielen thinks along the same lines. “Nowadays, service is an extremely fast-moving business. You have to react quickly and have materials and personnel at the customer’s site at the right time. Those on the front line are under a certain amount of pressure.” He starts work at seven in the morning – with the day’s end indeterminate.
Despite having to constantly respond neither of them wishes to be seen as a kind of KHS emergency service. After all, they are also responsible for condition-based or preventive maintenance where components are replaced before they fail.
Flexibility is nevertheless called for, explains Thielen, giving the following example: “During the sale of one particular filling line we accepted the used system in part payment. As this was in excellent condition, we soon found a buyer for it. However, on the very day the used system was to be dismantled the existing system at the destination site suffered major damage so that the company could no longer produce. Instead of keeping to the original three-month delivery period we thus installed and commissioned the used system at its new location in just three weeks.” The delighted buyer remained able to supply and a mere two months later ordered a new canning line from KHS – the result of optimum cooperation between Service and Sales at KHS.
After training as a chemical technician and completing his advanced vocational certificate of education Andy Schrupp studied engineering in Trier,specializing in food technology. As the university of applied sciences had good contacts with KHS, he wrote his diploma thesis with the company and in 2008 moved to Dortmund, working as a food engineer for aseptic cold filling. The 35-year-old has been head of Service Southern Europe since May 2010.
What do the two Service managers enjoy most about their job? “You get around”, smiles Thielen, who is not only responsible for Germany, Benelux, Great Britain and Switzerland but also Ukraine, the Baltic states and the whole of Scandinavia. He was once required to travel to the northernmost brewery in Europe at North Cape – an impressive experience. Besides seeing many different landscapes, above all he finds his dealings with all kinds of different people important. Schrupp thinks the same. “I especially like the intercultural side to my job. “Meeting people who have a totally different mentality makes me a more open-minded person.” Asked about their personal preferences regarding the countries they deal with, both men are at first reserved. Thielen finally admits to loving Switzerland “because of the mountains”, as he puts it. Schrupp feels particularly at home in the Baltic states because here he has experienced outstanding hospitality and felt especially appreciated as a supplier and partner. He also likes the fact that you can build up a long-term relationship with customers in both Sales and Service. Just recently, for instance, on seeing colleagues from a major brewery whom he had met at a workshop three years ago and not seen since then, he was given a “great reception”.
Jürgen Thielen made contact with KHS while training at Gerolsteiner Brunnen. After completing his advanced vocational certificate of education he joined the Dortmund systems supplier’s Service Department. He then trained as an electrical engineer and service consultant. He qualified further as a Certified Service Manager (ISS) five years ago. The Service Department has since taken the 54-year-old all over the world – even as far as New Zealand. He has been head of KHS Service Northern Europe for four years.
Mark of success
Without a certain passion and willingness to go that extra mile, you can’t do the job, muses Schrupp’s colleague Thielen. “Customers rely on this and that’s what motivates me.” Ultimately, it’s a mark of success to be able to help customers and be instrumental in creating a lasting good impression of your own employer. Thielen also gains great satisfaction from training young engineers.
Asked about how best to gain a little respite from his turbulent job, he admits that this isn’t so easy in a day and age when we’re expected to be permanently available wherever we are. It helps both him and Schrupp to get their running shoes on and go out for a jog to free their minds – as long as everything’s ‘home and dry’.
As both travel extensively, reconciling work and their family life is of course an extra challenge. Thielen is thus pleased that his wife and their two sons successfully manage the home and the daily routine, as he expresses it. And Schrupp compensates by devoting his free time entirely to his wife and friends.
“Without being willing to go that extra mile, you can’t do this job.”