“Höger rup” (Onwards and upwards!) – a piece of Flensburg’s history

The history of our plant in Flensburg begins two years before Krones was founded in Neutraubling. However, the development of the two facilities was so similar over the ensuing decades, that looking back it can justifiably be claimed they had been destined for each other right from the start.

It was back in 1949, you see, that Gerhard Zierk set up the company that was eventually to become ZIERK Maschinenbau GmbH in Flensburg. The inquisitive, determined, dynamic Gerhard started out from small beginnings, just like Hermann Kronseder in 1951: by taking over a metalworking shop in the centre of Flensburg. Gerhard Zierk had accumulated the seed capital with a lathe, after which he gradually expanded the firm, demonstrating his marked entrepreneurial skills. For this purpose, he and his first journeymen initially took on all jobs more or less connected with metal – acting as a locksmith, for example. During this period, Gerhard Zierk succeeded in establishing and expanding the firm by widely diversifying his revenue streams, making full use of his engineering skills and his inventive mind.

So finally it came to pass that in 1960 the first bottle washer, together with an accompanying inline filler, left the workshop – the foundation stone for the company’s subsequent core competence had been laid.

Three relocations later, and with an order backlog that had meanwhile become internationalised, the epoch at the present-day site then began. Some years later, in 1988, Hermann Kronseder with Krones AG appeared on the scene. At this juncture, Gerhard Zierk was suffering from ill-health, and his company was facing financial difficulties. The two of them quickly reached agreement in their initial meetings and so Herman Kronseder took over Gerhard Zierk’s ailing enterprise. Later on, both these founding fathers had fond memories of this smooth takeover – doubtless attributable not least to personal chemistry and similarities.

For the plant in Flensburg, the merger with Krones AG primarily meant financial security. In return, Krones AG saw the people at Flensburg as a reliable workforce, making a product range ideally complementing Krones’ own portfolio – not least the bottle washers, which up to the present day are the biggest machines in Krones AG’s repertoire. In subsequent years, the plant continued to operate under the name of “Krones Zierk”, until at the beginning of 2000 the current designation of “Krones Flensburg Plant” was introduced. By this time, turnover and payroll had already increased many times over

With significant financial support from the parent company, a training workshop was set up in 1991, modelled on its counterpart in Neutraubling. It was equipped with new lathes, milling and drilling machines, plus welding boxes and workbenches, while the electrical training section was fitted with new measuring instruments, instructional material and PLC workplaces. This newly equipped training workshop was ceremonially inaugurated on 1 August 1991, with twelve new trainees attending. One of the instructors back then was Karl-Heinz Boysen, whose name is presumptively familiar to quite a few of our present-day colleagues. As Training Manager, you see, Karl-Heinz still heads the training operation in Flensburg – and seven of the twelve trainees from back then are still employed in the Flensburg plant as well.

In the years following 1991, expansion and refurbishment work proceeded in different stages on the company’s site, with the training operation not least benefiting from more suitable premises. Besides the improvements, Karl-Heinz Boysen is also particularly fond of emphasising the constants in the training programme: “Training trips to Neutraubling have been organised every three years since the 1990s, so that every trainee will have seen our main facility.” He also attaches high priority to annual participation in the “Girls’ Day”, and to the school-kid interns, who get an opportunity to sample the everyday routine in the plant.

But not everything has stayed the same since 1991, of course. The choice of job profiles for the trainees, for example, has changed over the years.

Currently, trainee slots are being offered every year at the facility in Flensburg in the following careers:

> Industrial mechanic specialising in machinery and plant construction

> Construction mechanic specialising in steel and metal construction

Since the training workshop in Flensburg was inaugurated, 300 trainees have meanwhile graduated – including some participants and winners in the World Skills Championships. And there’s no end in sight at all, because the department is are still going strong, and “höger rup”.