The management hosted Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender as well as the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate Malu Dreyer accompanied by her husband Klaus Jensen. This was the introductory greeting that marked the beginning of a very special afternoon at Thomas on March 20, 2018:
It is a great honor and pleasure to welcome you here.
In conjunction with visits to other institutions, the stopover in Herdorf was the culmination of a tour by Germany’s head of state that covered 16 federal states. After the warm welcome, the management introduced the family-run company. This also included reminiscences about the beginnings of the enterprise around 60 years ago, when Hermann Thomas laid the foundations of the company.
Trainees show off their skills
The first stage of the company tour saw the VIPs stop off at the apprentices‘ workshop, where they chatted with vocational trainees and discussed the youngsters‘ experiences, prospects, and goals. „Mr. Steinmeier was so friendly and laid-back,“ as the trainees later explained. „We showed a lot of things and presented our hand-crafted gifts to the visitors.“
„The pen holders and paperweights are a testament to the many skills acquired by the first year of trainees,“ said Christoph Kohl, who has been Head of Training at Thomas since 2012. „Filing, sawing, drilling, turning, milling, and much more. These are the first things the youngsters learn here at Thomas. I am delighted that the gifts turned out to be so beautiful and that they were appreciated by everyone.“
Production of the future
The next stopover was operations. Looking at a fully automated production line, Mike Kühn, Director Industrial Engineering, explained how Thomas optimizes its manufacturing processes in line with the Thomas Production Standard (TPS) in the age of Industry 4.0. „TPS means that different products can be produced on the same production line without any loss of quality. This requires several processes that we have developed in recent years. We explained to our guests which factors, alongside the highly complex technical aspect, have to be taken into account as part of such projects – cost structure, efficiency, recyclability, product cleanliness, and flexibility with regard to quantities. Our technological capabilities were acknowledged by the VIPs.“
From idea to product
Markus Krauss presented a number of innovative Thomas products as part of the guided tour through the state-of-the-art production plant. Touching was expressly permitted. Krauss explained the overall product life cycle at Thomas – from the initial analysis of market and customer requirements to the idea itself and production as well as the final stage which all products have in common: customer value.
Christoph Thomas showed just how wide-spread some Thomas products actually are when visiting the production line for map-based control valves. „Thomas is a sole supplier to many of the major German automobile manufacturers and European OEMs. The sedan in which you arrived is fitted with up to six Thomas components, including a map-based control valve,“ he explained to Mr. Steinmeier and his wife. And there is more: „Your vehicle, Mrs. Minister President and Mr. Jensen, is also equipped with Thomas components, e.g., in the parking heater.“
In march 2018 Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Malu Dreyer were guests in Herdorf.
Taking responsibility – shaping the future
On saying their goodbyes, the hosts took a look into the future. Christoph Thomas was frank: „We would like to see more support for German SMEs in particular, which are the backbone of the German economy.“ The automotive industry is currently undergoing a thorough transformation. Rather than simply watching from the sidelines, we want to take an active role in shaping this transformation. OEMs live from our innovations, and only through sustained progress can Germany hold its own in international competition. My grandfather and my father shaped our Christian corporate culture by embracing the values of „integrity, courage, and support.“ We like to take responsibility – for our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and for our country. If the political conditions are right, we will continue to succeed in striking a balance between economic success and this sense of responsibility – true to our motto: bold change – lasting values!“