„That we manufacture a sustainable product. I am always happy when we go past some product that my father or I made 20 or 30 years ago. I am repeatedly confronted with my own work. That is what makes our work fantastic. It's different than being a baker or a butcher. Their product is simply gone after it has been eaten (grins)“
“WE MAKE UMPTEEN DIFFERENT TYPES OF RAILINGS – WHAT’S STANDARD FOR US?”
Rainer Plessing in an interview on the subject of creativity
Mr Plessing, how is your customer base made up? How do you get orders?
Normally the customers contact to us. I make about 70 percent of my sales with industrial companies. Earlier the companies had their own metalworking shops but everything is outsourced today. The remaining 30% of orders come from town councils, architects and private people.
What was your most exciting project in 2014 and why?
I recently worked for an artist a few times. The most exciting was the "Water Flames" art project last year. (see photo) The artist Branko Smon lives here in Remseck and is also well-known outside of the region. We have already worked together on many of his art projects. For "Water Flames" he produced the design and we then implemented it. The media have frequently published pictures of this object. Not only we, but also our mayor are very proud of it.
Earlier in Aldingen – a district of Remseck – there was a large company that specialised in interior design. Concert halls, operas, everything you can think of. We usually manufactured the steel parts for these. I was also in Berlin at the same time the small Philharmonie was built. The director Herbert von Karajan even came once. That was a real experience. Everyone had to be very quiet. The old master shuffled into the hall and reviewed the acoustics. I was personally very impressed by this.
What irritates you in your work, what would you like to change?
Answers immediately: The bureaucracy! And the regimentation. Everything is regulated in some way nowadays. And unfortunately there is considerable scope for improving the reputation of our trade to the outside world. The crude metalworker no longer exists. We enjoy, for instance, going to art exhibitions but nobody suspects that at all, or they don`t believe we're capable of it. Often we are viewed as tending to come from the backwoods. But presumably this can't be changed so quickly. And by the way: In Ludwigsburg there is a prison museum. It has a guillotine. Of the last 10 people who were beheaded by it, 8 were metalworkers. Is that not curious? (Grins)
That is really curious! Now to another topic, Mr Plessing: What typifies a good supplier for you?
First and foremost, a supplier must keep to deadlines. Confirmed deadlines must not be changed. And the access must be good. I mean, when I phone I must get through straight away. The price is then not a major issue. Above all, it is important for me that I have good contact to the company and the deadlines must run smoothly.
What do you value about MEVACO?
Firstly, deliveries are quick, that's good. Secondly, the personnel on the phone are friendly. I never have the impression that I'm disturbing. And – of course, this is only a small thing but it is always appreciated: the jelly babies. A small bag is included with every delivery. This goes down extremely well with me and my employees. MEVACO is well known for this. We recently also got jelly babies from a different supplier - and we then immediately thought of MEVACO.
What do you think – does your work promote your creativity?
Yes – for sure. Last year, for example, I had two large orders. The customer really only specified the basic conditions. The order was only: "So-and-so must look approximately like this!", and then: "do it!". The customer had an in-house architect who is responsible for the whole of Germany and therefore had hardly any time. So I had to design everything myself in principle. I didn't have any major guidelines at all for the planning, realisation and completion. The result was important. But it did not ultimately matter how I achieved this result. So I was able to devise many concepts and had a free hand. I found that very exciting. This was a real challenge for me, and I asked myself: How do I do this or that? What material do I use? And so on. Creativity for me is not only artistic creativity, but rather I consider it in the overall sense. How do I design so that the required product is the final result? And what's fantastic is: we not only have to work by strictly following any architect's drawings but rather we can incorporate ideas ourselves. Creativity is also frequently required for orders from private people. Particularly in giving advice. I can be very creative when I make suggestions.
How important for you is the opportunity to fulfil unusual customer requests?
That is then naturally the icing on the cake. Some things which are not done every day can be considered to be a small diversion from everyday work. We are then extremely proud of these projects. And something like this is what sets me and my company apart from the competition. One should simply not be afraid of new tasks.
"Firstly, deliveries are quick, that's good. Secondly, the personnel on the phone are friendly."
How many of your orders would you describe as standard, and how many as "special requests"?
We make umpteen different railings - so what is standard for us?
"In the future I would like to buy finished materials more often. I have already tried this out and found that it definitely makes my work easier."
Do you enjoy creative solutions, or do you consider them to be too much bother?
Yes – they're certainly enjoyable. And I also have a master who is extremely creative. He gets really enthusiastic about such orders but of course I also enjoy them myself.
What makes your pulse beat faster - the desk or the workshop?
Definitely not the desk. But I sadly spend 90 percent of my time at the desk. Of course, there is no other choice for a company this size. If I am completely honest, I prefer working on Saturdays. We frequently have to go into industrial plants where this is only possible on Saturdays. I then take good employees with me, am not disturbed by the phone and can also contribute towards the project.
How often do you use the MEVACO services for manufacturing exactly to your requirements – i.e. the desired products?
I ordered something only last week. A perforated sheet, with an edge all round. But as we have plate shears ourselves and can also make edges ourselves, we make a lot of things ourselves. But in the future I would like to buy finished materials more often. I have already tried this out and found that it definitely makes my work easier.
How familiar are you with MEVACO desired products? Do you find it easy to configure desired products?
I must admit that I have not really looked into this in detail.
May I show you what is available? (We take a look at the catalogue together.) There is an additional page for expanded metal, two for perforated sheets and one for mesh. You can then order them by phone or online.
Oh – that's great. Just like the part last week – with an all-round open edge. The parts had been ordered for a project in which we had to subsequently fit a railing. When this is a square pitch square hole part, we can divide it up and cut to size ourselves. But for staggered holes, it makes sense when this can simply be ordered – regardless of whether online or by phone. But it's good to know all the possibilities offered by MEVACO. Great.
What are you proud of in your work?