At the age of 20, Sepp Braumandl found his way to Knauf AMF through a chance encounter. He has been working here as a Machine Operator for 40 years. Sepp is the good soul of the mineral tile plant in Grafenau. For him, Knauf AMF is more than just an employer! He tells his story in an interview with the district of Freyung-Grafenau.
Sepp, how did you come to be at Knauf AMF?
Whilst working in the forest with my father, I met the Chairman of the Works Council, Hans Killinger. He told me about a vacancy. A short time later I had my first day at Knauf AMF - directly after my military service with the German Armed Forces. The funny thing about this story was that my predecessor had the same last name as me. So a Braumandl was replaced by a Braumandl.
You work as a Machine Operator, what exactly does this mean?
As a Machine Operator, the number one priority is the production of ceiling tiles. This can be imagined in a similar way to a bakery: here the “dough”, the base of the ceiling tiles, is produced and prepared for further processing. As in the bakery trade, there are recipe guidelines. However, the fine tuning is up to me.
What does your everyday working day look like?
On a normal day, the first thing is always to check the mineral tiles. For this, we create a sample every two hours, on which we measure the dry content, the weight and the thickness of the tile. This control is the be-all and end-all. If something is not 100% correct, we have to act immediately to ensure the quality of the tiles. This is my responsibility.
Has the working day changed a lot in the past 40 years?
When I started everything was still done by hand and without a computer. Over the years, everything gradually became more modern and mechanical. After all, today we have the most modern mineral tile factory in the world.
You’ve experienced all the changes up close?
Yes, I’ve grown with the company and the changes in the processes. The understanding of the production, the composition of the mineral tiles and the structures is completely different if you have done it all by hand. I have gained a lot of experience in this respect, which I am happy to pass on today.
How do you generally perceive the development of the company?
The company has grown and changed during this time. A highlight was definitely the takeover of the company by Knauf. Of course, there were also harder times, such as redundancies and short-time work in 1983. But the company also grew as a result. The cohesion in the company has always been strong. Back then I got on very well with the senior boss. We worked closely together and continuously optimised the processes together.
You can tell that there is a good working atmosphere here, can you confirm that?
Yes, definitely! The working relationship has always been good. There has never been a significant incident or anything like that in 40 years. Many colleagues have come and gone. Sure, you get on better with some than with others, that's quite normal. In general, the atmosphere in the team was and is always great! There have never been any difficulties with colleagues in the office and the management.
Have you ever planned to leave home? Professionally or privately?
At first I wanted to join the German Armed Forces in the marines, but I was too big for that. But no, otherwise I never gave it any thought. On the contrary, when I started here, it was immediately clear to me: I will stay here! Even in private, it was never an option. I've always felt comfortable here and I don't want to do without my home, people and nature.
What makes the Freyung-Grafenau district so special for you?
The area and my friends. I like to meet people I know when I'm on the go. The anonymity in big cities is too impersonal for me. I like the “we feeling” that we have here.
Can you tell us your favourite place in Freyung-Grafenau?
Our mountains and nature in general. Hiking on the Lusen, Rachel or Dreisessel is simply wonderful - and especially in summer, walks in the shady National Park or on the Buchbergerleite are priceless. It's all right on our doorstep – that’s something to value, isn't it?
#mehralsduerwartest (#morethanyouexpect) – what does this mean to you?
We used to have a lot of holiday guests on my parents' farm. At that time, these guests often knew corners and places in the district that we did not know ourselves. It's strange how we perceive our immediate surroundings. We are often unaware of the familiar yet beautiful things. That is precisely why I think it is important that we are aware of how good we have it here in Freyung-Grafenau.
The interview was conducted as part of the "#mehralsdurerwartest" district campaign and published on the following website on 23rd February, 2020: