Geschäftsführer Handtmann Metallgusswerk

“Our products continue to fascinate me”

Dr. Michael Hagemann, Managing Director of Albert Handtmann Metallgusswerk GmbH & Co. KG

“It may be a bit unusual for a managing director to report on his career. But by doing so I’d like to encourage everyone to get involved and create their own opportunities. I actually started my career with an apprenticeship as a machine fitter. During my second-chance education, I finished high school and completed a degree in mechanical engineering in 1994.

While studying for my degree, I gathered experience of the automotive industry when I was employed as a working student and freelance employee at Audi AG. It was my former professor at Paderborn University who drew my attention to Handtmann. Even in those days, the company was involved with the lost-foam technique, a special aluminium casting method. I first had to look on a map to see exactly where Biberach was. But the impression I gained during the application process “at Handtmann” convinced me. And so I started working as a project engineer for Lost Foam at Handtmann Metallgusswerk in 1994.

After four years, I needed a change and put my name forward for development opportunities. I really liked the idea of moving into Sales. In order to obtain a detailed knowledge of the casting techniques, I was put through all the departments over a number of weeks. I learned a great deal from the mentors there, which I still make use of today. In 2001, I was appointed Sales Manager and finally Managing Director in 2011.

The Sales area suited me because I had good knowledge of our automotive customers’ products. I financed my degree myself by working in a truck workshop. That really helped me to move from practice to theory. At the same time, this experience gave me a lot of respect for the people at Handtmann who stand at the machines every day and produce thousands of cast parts. Enjoying difficult work and doing it well isn’t a matter of course but a special ability.

In parallel with my time in Sales, I did an industry-sponsored doctorate. Many of my friends did their doctorate at university. That got me interested in engaging intensively with a scientific topic. I found the idea of researching something myself really attractive. I spent over three years working on it in the evenings and at weekends. Handtmann supported me by allowing me to use its facilities and the laboratory. I was really happy when Arthur Handtmann and my manager at the time came to Paderborn to listen to my doctoral presentation in 2001.

Nowadays, it’s the diversity of my job that inspires me. We have to solve many issues every day – regarding customers and production at our factories in Germany, Slovakia and China. There’s little routine; rather, every day brings something new. A big challenge is the factory in Tianjin, which opened in 2014. Here, we work together to optimise structures and increase capacity take-up. What’s really pleasing is that all of this is backed up with large orders that will guarantee revenue streams through to 2024. Thanks to our involvement in China, we have also received large orders for Biberach and Annaberg.  Handtmann’s growth over recent decades is particularly impressive.

We are now one of the biggest casting companies in Germany, perhaps even in Europe, and are a familiar name to the management boards of automotive companies.

Another advantage at Handtmann are the short decision-making channels. For example, the decision to build the factory in China was taken in 2013. We celebrated its opening in 2015. That gives us a high degree of flexibility compared to large companies. This speed helps us enormously to get ahead with customers.

I would summarise my many years at Handtmann by saying that you can achieve a lot here if you want to. The Handtmann family places considerable trust in us, which as far as I can see is non-existent in other companies. This trust shown towards employees and managers is Handtmann’s recipe for success. What’s more, all the people here are appreciated. This combination of social factors, technological competence and business success makes Handtmann attractive to applicants from around the world.

I recommend everyone who wants to make a career for themselves to start out in a medium-sized, family-run business. It’s the best place to focus on doing a good job. New opportunities will arise all by themselves and you’ll be presented with interesting development opportunities. It’s also important to be enthusiastic about your work. That’s only possible because our products still fascinate me and give me a sense of achievement."