“The Lord of the Blue Sacks” -27 years old production manager at ORBITA-FILM


The success story of ORBITA-FILM would not have come to pass if its more than 700 highly qualified and motivated employees did not share in the company’s philosophy. One of them is production manager Marcel Schmidtke. Whenever he enters meeting room 1 in the administration building, a wry smile momentarily flashes across his face. “This is the room where my interview took place in 1997”, he recalls, not without a hint of pride. “That's exactly 13 years ago. At that time I was starting my apprenticeship as a process engineer for plastics and rubber technology, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Marcel Schmidtke is now 29 years old and has been the production manager of the packaging department for the last two years. He is responsible for 60 employees and 17 facilities. Every day, 50 tonnes of recycling bags – either blue, yellow, black, or transparent – and tarpaulins leave the production line operated by Marcel Schmidtke and his team.

After he successfully completed his three‑year training course, FILM‑ORBITA took the young man on as a production worker, and for two years he raced through its warehouses as a forklift driver. “But that wasn’t enough for me. The job was fun, but I had an apprenticeship specialising in the extrusion facilities, which was where I wanted to go”. Shift supervisor Volkhardt Breitlauch recognised the potential of the young man and his commitment, and employed him as a plant operator. For, despite the three-shift system and a seven-day working week, Marcel Schmidtke spent every free minute at the facility. “Technology fascinates me, which is why I was present during the construction of every new manufacturing facility here. I wanted to know how such a huge machine works and wanted to be able to master the increasingly modern technology”.

He took on his first responsibility for personnel two years later. At the time he was 24 years-old, a machine fitter, and responsible for three employees. “My ambition was awakened and ORBITA gave me the opportunity to gain my “qualified foreman” (Industriemeister) certificate at the chamber of commerce. I immediately took them up on the offer”.

Together with six other colleagues, he attended a school for master craftsmen and passed with flying colours, becoming a qualified foreman for plastics and rubber processing.

Being a production manager at the tender age of just 27 is quite a task, so how do older workers respond to that? “There were never any problems”, says Schmidtke. “I try to involve my team in decision-making processes. This is why I have introduced regular production meetings. My colleagues know that I am always open to criticism, since this is the only way that problems can be solved. I am also developing myself, because it would be foolish to ignore the experience of my more experienced colleagues”.

Today, two years after gaining his foreman’s certificate, Marcel Schmidtke is already back at school: “If everything goes well, in a few months I'll have my qualification as a ‘technical management expert’ (Technischer Betriebswirt) in the bag. This course is also paid for by the company and I am grateful for that”.

Managing Director Reinhard Handel explains the company's commitment: “Without our motivated and qualified employees, it simply would not work. That’s why we place so much importance in training our own staff. It’s an investment in the future”. ORBITA-FILM spends several hundred thousand euros every year just on the provision of training, qualifications and further training for its employees. There are currently 50 apprentices being trained in Weißandt-Gölzau alone – and 60 percent of trainees are taken on. The company spends more than €50,000 each year for the “qualified foreman” (Industriemeister) qualification alone. Additionally, it also provides support for young academics as well as continuous training in sales, not to mention internal training programmes in the area of technology and IT.


And what about peering over the rim of the proverbial teacup and turning his back on Weißandt‑Gölzau? Marcel Schmidtke says a very firm “no” to this proposition – “not under any circumstances!” He has found his dream job, with “motivated colleagues, my family nearby and a well-functioning social environment. I could even imagine growing old with ORBITA”, jokes Schmidtke, as he closes the door to meeting room 1 and returns to 'his' production facility.


Author: Dagmar Perschke


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