How do you last twenty years in a company? – An interview with Marco Klee

Marco, Head of Procurement at the HAHN Group, is already celebrating his 20th company anniversary. As a long-time employee, he talks about the development from a start-up to a medium-sized company in an interview with Karina from the People & Culture Team. Some milestones have remained in his memory until today.

Karina: You have been a loyal employee for many years. What exactly do you associate with the company?

Marco: Well, what comes to mind spontaneously is growth, cohesion, togetherness and acceptance. Friendships that have developed with colleagues. Some events besides the daily activities like summer parties, Christmas parties and trips, which we did together with the management in the beginning. Over the years, I have really had many great experiences.

Karina: What do you remember most about the whole period?

Marco: I actually do not have to think about that for long. A real milestone that stuck with me was the first million-dollar order at the time of HÄHN Engineering. I still know the number of the order and the customer name. When we received the order confirmation, I remember Thomas, one of the founders and at that time our CEO, running through the building cheering that we had our first million dollar contract. That really stuck with me. You always associate HAHN with growth, and for me this was the first big growth step that I recall. As far as I remember, it was also one of the first international customer. Another major Milestone was, of course, the big step from HAHN Automation into the RSBG.

Karina: What has changed in these twenty years and what has perhaps even remained the same?

Marco: There have been some changes since we joined RSBG, of course. Quite simply, what has changed, is the number of colleagues. When I started, I think I was employee number 35. Today we are 1600 – so that is crazy. I used to know every employee by name. Today, unfortunately, that is no longer possible. The distances have become longer, but that is understandable. What I think is cool, what has remained the same, is the personal and friendly atmosphere (“you” culture).  That already existed in the past and was very important already back then. In my opinion, that is and was a big building block for the success of the company. It simply makes you feel closer. What has always been remarkable for me is that the structures have always been pulled up in time and the basis has been created for the next big step.

Karina: Today it is common practice to change jobs every three to five years. Why has this not been an option for you?

Marco: I have grown with the company and you develop friendships. I have my employer right on my doorstep here in the region. To be honest, I have never thought of leaving because it has always been exciting and fun for me. I made my career steps more or less internally. Back then, I was looking for a position in purchasing. I saw the ad in the newspaper and applied. Unfortunately, the position had already been filled but they were still looking for a sales assistant. Frank, one of the founders, and a colleague from the finance department convinced me to join HÄHN. Therefore, I started as a sales assistant on September 15, 2001 – four days after 9/11. At this point, I realized relatively quickly that this was not for me in the long run. After a few weeks, the position became available in purchasing, which I then started with conviction. From that point on, I built up the purchasing department and have now been responsible for strategic purchasing at HAHN Group since 2017. That is why the question of a change has never really arisen for me in the many years I have been here. I put my heart and soul into it and I truely enjoy working at HAHN.

Karina: There is a lot to celebrate in the anniversary year. What is your personal wish for the future?

Marco: I want us to continue together on the way we have gone in the past. I would like to remain a part of ensuring that the company can still drive this growth and that the goals that have been set are achieved.

Karina: What would you like to say in the end?

Marco: It is important that we continue to live the corporate culture in the same way as before and that we try to maintain the HAHN spirit despite the growth.

Success stories of the HAHN Group network

With locations all over the world, the HAHN Group offers a large network. In the following article, four employees report on their exchange experiences between international sites.

Carlos, Project Leader Assembly HA DE AS, came from Mexico to Rheinböllen

Efrain, Junior Software Engineer Controls HAHN Automation GmbH, came from Mexico to Rheinböllen

Kresimir, General Operations Manager HAHN Automation S. de R.L., came from Rheinböllen Germany to Zagreb Croatia, and afterwards to Queretaro Mexico

Johannes Philipp, Project Leader Assembly HAHN Automation GmbH, came from Germany to the Czech Republic, and afterwards to Mexico

What was your reason for this experience?

Carlos: I wanted to learn more about both – the work at HAHN Automation in Rheinböllen and the German culture. I believed that it was a good opportunity for my professional and personal development.

Efrain: I wanted to continue growing as a professional and as a person. My boss gave me this opportunity and I said yes to it.

Kresimir: I am an open person who is always searching for new challenges. The dynamic of our work means we could never have the same day twice.

Johannes Philipp: A colleague told me that they didn´t find someone for the job yet and I felt like doing something new. I spent 2 weeks visiting the location and then joined the team for 4 years.

How was the experience with your new colleagues? Did you feel well integrated?

Carlos: I always felt welcomed, even though it took me some time to adapt. By the time that I arrived, I did not speak neither understood the German language that much. Now I can do it a little bit more than before. Everyone is nice, helpful and willing to collaborate. I feel integrated with the team and I enjoy my days at work.

Kresimir: Since I have started at HAHN Automation in Germany, I have always had a feeling that we are one family. As a foreigner coming to Germany, without knowing language, all the team members accepted me very well.

Johannes Philipp: In the Czech Republic, it was very difficult at the beginning because of the language. The people were very skeptical. After a year, I did an intensive language course and then I could communicate even with the 50% who did not speak English at all. That made a huge difference. People really appreciate it when you learn their language. It opens up a completely new range of opportunities.

Did this experience improve your technical skills? Did you get to know new technologies or processes?

Efrain: HAHN Automation in Germany is bigger than HAHN Automation Mexico. Here you can find more projects, more technologies, more specialists, more processes. If you have any technical issue, there are more people available that you can ask for help. I have had the chance to collaborate in projects made for different customers worldwide.

Johannes Philipp: Technically, we learn new things with every project. The Czech Republic has a different way of thinking than the Germans. You have to find a common basis for that. That is not always easy, but you also have to realize your goals and never stop learning.

What was the one thing you benefit the most of?

Johannes Philipp: Definitely the interaction with people and I lost the fear of trying new things. I have seen that everything is possible.

Would you recommend an exchange to other employees and why?

Efrain: If they have the opportunity, they just need to take it. They must not be afraid of the people, the country or the language. They need to know that they will learn a lot and they will find out how people live. This can help them growing professionally and improve themselves personally.

Kresimir: Do not be afraid to try new things and to take opportunities that scare you. It is a big learning experience.                                                                                                                       

Thank you for the interviews!

HAHN Group Onboarding – An experience report

Sven Roth has become part of the HAHN Group corporate network in September 2021 in his role as a product manager at Walther Systemtechnik. To make it easier for him and other colleagues to get started during the pandemic, the HAHN Group People & Culture team hosts regular onboarding events. Elif Özdemir, HR Recruiter & Coordinator, spoke about Sven’s individual onboarding experiences.


Elif: Hello Sven, thank you very much for your time and willingness to be interviewed about onboarding at HAHN Group. I’ll start with a classic question first: How did you come to HAHN Group?


Sven: The first time I considered the HAHN Group or Walther Systemtechnik GmbH as a future employer was about a year ago. In a conversation with a former colleague, who has been working at Walther Systemtechnik for several years, I learned more about the integration of the company into the HAHN Group. The associated structural change and the new opportunities that arise from operating within the group made me curious and so one thing led to another.


Elif: On 01.09.2021 you had your first working day at Walther Systemtechnik GmbH. What do you remember most about your first working days at HAHN Group?


Sven: I would describe my first working days and also the first points of contact before that with the words familiar and appreciative. In particular, the helpfulness of my colleagues with the many questions I had at the beginning — and still have — will remain in my memory for a long time. My onboarding was already firmly scheduled for the first few weeks. I was introduced to the technology and internal processes and had many appointments here on site to get to know the company. Already on my third working day, the HAHN Group’s welcome event “Welcome@HAHN” took place. For me, this was a nice opportunity to get to know the group of companies and the culture of the “extended family” better.


Elif: Let’s go into more detail about the “Welcome@HAHN” event. How did you feel about the content of the event, what was your impression? What conclusions do you draw from it?


Sven: I approached the “Welcome@HAHN” event with a very open mind. The event is new, therefore we had little experience with it here in Germersheim. I was interested to learn more about the overall strategy across the individual divisions.

In particular, I remember that Axel took the time for us and gave us exciting insights into the strategy and vision of the HAHN Group.

I also found the presentations by Cordula, Ingo and Co. very informative and helpful. Accordingly, I found it positive that in addition to the presentations, there was also room for questions from the ranks of the newcomers.

The event itself took place online, in order to accommodate the circumstances with Covid-19. In retrospect, I did not perceive this as a disadvantage. On the contrary, I would endorse the virtual format even away from Covid-19. Despite the remote event, it was not sober and dry. The interactive round of introductions & the HAHN quiz made the virtual get-to-know-you experience surprisingly lively. Even though I didn’t take first place I now know that a halfpipe even fits in a car garage to pursue the hobby of skateboarding even in bad weather!

From the current perspective, I find the event particularly valuable for another reason. It serves the purpose of networking across locations and promotes the group idea right from the start – which I think is one of the greatest strengths of the HAHN Group.


Elif: Looking back, how satisfied were you with your onboarding in general?


Sven: Very. In my case, onboarding was already fully scheduled for the first few weeks before my first day of work. Accordingly, I was able to quickly familiarize myself with the processes that were new to me and knew the appropriate contact persons for all questions that were still to come.


Elif: Finally, the last question: Can you describe your onboarding in one sentence?


Sven: Appreciative, friendly and exciting without exception!


Elif: Thank you very much, Sven!

HAHN Plastics Automation: The HAHN Group has competent people all over the world

In the interview with Stefan Kropp you can find out more about international cooperation and the exchange between our HAHN Group subsidiaries. Stefan Kropp has accompanied GeKu Automatisierungssysteme since its incorporation and has repeatedly taken on different roles. 1.5 years ago he accepted the offer to move to HAHN Plastics Automation in the USA. You can find out more about the connection between GeKu and HAHN Plastics Automation and how the working styles might differ between the countries on the HAHN Plastics Automation website.

GeKu: With us, customers get to know their systems down to the smallest detail.

Get to know Patrick Tarnowski, who has been with GeKu Automatisierungssysteme GmbH since 2012. In his role, he takes on the service technology and training management for test systems. You can find out what other tasks he handles, what he particularly enjoys about his work and what makes the company so special on the GeKu website.

GeKu: Good performance creates great opportunities for young employees

On the GeKu website you can find out what successful training and employee development looks like within the HAHN Group. Get to know Marcel, who stood out with his particularly good performance during his training at GeKu. He then had the opportunity for a very special exchange within the HAHN Group corporate network. Find out more about the exchange with HAHN Automation in the USA and what Marcel takes away from this experience on the GeKu website.