Employees are the real champions

Successful business man Bernhard Heuft presented a paper at the Economic Forum

When managers meet in order to exchange views a little classical music and sometimes even jazz is allowed in the background. This is not the case with Bernhard Heuft: the successful business man from Burgbrohl has the loud rock of the group "Queen" sounding at the beginning of his presentation as part of the series "champions at the Economic Forum in Neuwied" and he explains afterwards that he is usually more unconventional than his competitors.

"We are the champions" sounds through the Garden Room at Engers Castle. And many of the large number of directors and managers from the regional economic area attending the second "champions" round must have been a little surprised in view of Queen´s hard rock sounds. Bernhard Heuft had expected this reaction and continued. "I am not a champion" explained the managing director of HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH from Burgbrohl. But this is the very reason why he was invited: as the champion of the regional economy, in other words as a successful business man, whose work inspires colleagues and who can give a contribution at the same time which conveys a mood of awakening and courage. 600 employees throughout the world, 400 of them in Burgbrohl alone. Offshoots in most of Europe but also in the USA, Brazil, Argentina and particularly Asia and China - in just over 25 years Bernhard Heuft who started working in his cellar at home has become a worldwide manufacturer of innovative inspection and labelling machine technology for the packaging and beverage industries. Nevertheless he insists: "I am not a champion; our employees are the real stars". A classic example of a life-story and a story of success: even as a pupil Bernhard Heuft developed and sold "smaller devices" to industry. He really got going whilst a physics student; he built and sold his technical inventions himself. He obtained his first European patent between 1978 and 1982; today the HEUFT company holds more than 500 patents worldwide. The first foreign agency was set up in 1985.


New on the world market


The products HEUFT SYSTEMTECHNIK GMBH market are developments of the highest technical standard: sorting units for returned empties which automatically detect which bottles may and may not be filled. The so-called empty bottle inspector which analyses whether an individual container is damaged or dirty at 72,000 bottles per hour. Checking the fill level and the closure - there are also solutions for this task in Burgbrohl. Labelling machines complete the range on offer for the filling plant. The latest: it is possible to identify foreign objects such as stones, glass fragments and metal splinters in filled cans, cases and bottles by means of X-rays and to sort out the corresponding full containers. This inspection also takes place automatically at immense speeds. Bernhard Heuft sums up: "Technologically we are number one in this field. The company philosophy of those at Burgbrohl is conceivably simple: there is at least one solution for each problem - it only has to be found". Today 75 employers alone work on this in research and development. Bernhard Heuft regards his employees, the "real champions" as his family. The degree of self-organisation and self-checking is high: whether work-place organisation, improving working methods or production planning - the individual work group takes over responsibility. Transparency and the information policies of the management are therefore all the more important. The discussion that followed, presented by Professor Ruediger H Jung, once again emphasized the importance of the employee: "The human factor plays an increasingly important role and is the key to success", explained Johann Lukas, managing director of Breuer GmbH & Co. KG in Block "There is no such thing as the wrong employee only the wrongly employed employee. People have to put heart and soul into their work; it is all about firing them with enthusiasm." The most important task management has according to Bernhard Heuft is "to get the best people together in each area. It is all about being authentic. That is something which is very important." Hans-Dieter Gassen, the president of the "Struktur- und Genehmigungsdirektion Nord - SGDN (Northern Structure and Approval Management)" explained that the decisive task of the authorities is to work in the interests of the businesses but also the citizens.