For a career in bad rodach: “i don’t need a metropolis”

For a career in bad rodach:

Thomas hartleb, he says with a smile, is part of the "living inventory" of the valeo plant. Because he was already there when hardly anyone at valeo knew where bad rodach was located at all. At that time, in the 80s and 90s, the plant still belonged to siemens. But hartleb was already developing air conditioning systems back then. Today, in the 20. Born in neida, he is responsible for the worldwide development of control elements with a competence center in bad rodach.

Studying in coburg, in the "siemens family on his way up the career ladder, then taken over by valeo with his eight-man development team. Thomas hartleb, now head of the technical product line for control elements, has experienced a lot with and at valeo.

How did you personally experience the change from siemens to valeo in 1998??
Thomas hartleb: back then it was clear: once siemens, always siemens. All german. But the takeover also had its thrills: french bosses, english as the company language, a bit of the reputation of the wide world. In addition, there was a complete change in philosophy: at siemens, technical development took precedence over everything else. At valeo, we talked about profitable growth then as now. This puts us on the way to becoming a broad-based technology company.

Valeo – that means not only bad rodach and neuses, but also paris and detroit. Why didn"t the call of the wide world lure you away??
(laughs) i did get around a bit in the siemens days: munich, regensburg, redwitz. But my professional home has become bad rodach. I had a boss for a while who wanted to talk to me once a week in paris. So I'm happy to go on – but I'm also happy to come home again. I don't need a metropolis to be satisfied. Every successful company also needs employees who stay with it. It's easier to find them here. I'm always happy to have people like that on my team.

How do you assess the situation: do people in the coburg region have any idea what is being produced in bad rodach??
At the turn of the millennium, people didn't even know how to pronounce us correctly (grins). But the perception has improved. We here at the site have also discussed this issue with the management in paris. A successful company needs a certain degree of solidarity and sustainability. The people in the surrounding area must be able to do something with us. Especially as part of the automotive industry, it no longer fits in with the times to work in isolation. This insight has also prevailed at valeo.

Is it difficult to attract well-trained specialists to bad rodach??
No more difficult than after munich. I often hear that engineers – who are not the worst earners, as we all know – can no longer afford to live in cities like munich. Or at least didn't want to do it anymore. The high rents, the traffic jams, the problems with kindergarten places – if you don't want to put up with that anymore, you're in the right place in a region like ours.

How do you perceive the standing of the bad rodach plant within the valeo company??
We have exciting times behind us (grins). There were phases when I had a new boss every year. I and my colleagues had to work hard to convince the management that the bad rodach site was needed. Our central location has certainly also helped us in this respect. Stuttgart, munich, russelsheim, wolfsburg – from bad rodach, none of these are world trips. In the meantime, the importance of our site is questioned, because the importance of the german automotive industry is indisputable. A german manufacturer demands a "buttery feel" from our part. Explain this in french… Thanks to our many german customers, people at valeo certainly know who we are in bad rodach.

As the department responsible for the product development process, they work on the car of tomorrow. How far ahead of the market are they??
Not so long ago, we started developing a product up to seven years before it was launched on the market. That has changed. Our customers now hardly know what the car will look like in three years' time. There is an enormous nervousness on the market. We have two, two-and-a-half years until the product is ready for series production. In research, however, we are further along – somewhere between 2022 and 2025.

And how will cars be on the road in seven years' time?
A significant proportion is definitely electric, autonomous and connected. There will also no longer be many buttons, but instead closed surfaces with multifunction. In terms of aesthetics, I think things are going to get a lot better. And, whether we like it or not, the cars will have cameras inside!

That sounds like total surveillance…
For some it is surveillance, others speak of a gain for mankind. The car of the future will definitely know whether the person behind the wheel is also allowed to drive the vehicle. When I think of the attacks with motor vehicles, then I can already say: the car of the future will try to prevent such incidents.

20 years of valeo in bad rodach – this is how it all began

Forerunner entrepreneur max roesler came to rodach in 1893, where he founded a factory for fine stoneware in the summer of 1894. The factory facilities were closed on 1. The coburg-bad rodach railroad line, opened on july 1892, was built with its own siding. On 1. January 1896 the company started production with a plan.

The siemens-ara in 1938 siemens bought the plant, which still had over 300 employees at the time, and first produced porcelain insulators there, then plastic parts. In the 1960s, the first projects for the automotive industry were added to the portfolio. 1974 the first air conditioning system was manufactured in bad rodach.

Valeo-ara in 1995 siemens enters into a global joint venture with valeo for air-conditioning systems . The rodach site thus became a development center for german automakers. The number of employees rises to around 900. To the 1. January 1998 valeo takes over the entire bad rodach site, where it manufactures complex air conditioning systems for the german brands BMW and mercedes, among others.

The future the valeo plant in bad rodach currently has a total of around 1025 employees from more than 30 nations. In the near future, the company plans to increase its workforce at the site to as many as 1,300 employees.

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