People at Krones – Norbert Wedhorn

When this August in Hall B 6 of Munich’s exhibition centre the erection work begins, this will be a very special moment for Norbert Wedhorn. No one can match his contribution over the past 31 years towards KRONES AG’s trade fair presence. On 16 September 2013, Norbert Wedhorn’s eighth and final drinktec will be opening its doors, because Krones AG’s “trade fair maestro” will be taking a well-earned retirement next April.

Norbert Wedhorn, what was your first drinktec like?

Back then, of course, in 1985, it was still called the “Interbrau”, and  the erection work involved was quite a different thing from what we see today. Carpenters built the stand, and decorators papered the walls they constructed. Sometimes, even, the stand’s components were lined with woolfelt. Back then, the fair was visited mainly by brewmasters and plant managers, because it was they who were responsible for new procurement in the beverage companies. For these visitor groupings, of course, technical details and new technologies appeared particularly important. One of these Interbraus back in the 1980s was in my eyes a rather convivial, you might even say cultural event. In Bavaria, you see, we train more brewers than anywhere else in the world – and this was quite obvious at the fair, it was an entirely different atmosphere compared to food and packing exhibitions. There used to be breweries who would fly into Munich on a jumbo jet all to themselves – that would be inconceivable today.

What in particular has changed by now?

The time you spend at the fair is quite simply shorter and the programme has been streamlined. Nowadays, too, the drinktec’s public consists more of commercial managers, who assess procurement options from a rather different point of view – today’s public tends to focus more on ROI and cost-efficiency aspects. But it’s not only the public that’s changed. Meanwhile, naturally enough, we work together with professional stand-builders, from whom we hire staff to erect the stand, and rent the actual stand components too. This makes the entire erection work a whole lot more flexible. Our stand has been significantly upsized over the years, of course.

What thoughts are going through your head in the run-up to your final drinktec?

I’m upbeat about it. It’s more or less part of my job description that I never let chaos, problems and malfunctions upset me, I just keep focusing on a solution. So “handing over” to my team doesn’t really worry me. I know we’re a good crew with highly motivated people – I’ve passed on my experience as best I can over recent years. So far, the drinktec has always been a great success for Krones, and our stand was every time the best one at the fair – and that’s not going to change this year either.