After an early wake-up and breakfast, I watched out of the window on the ride to Denklingen, the village where the Hirschvogel headquarters is located. I am becoming familiar with the rolling hills and neatly cut grass and farm fields of the Bavarian countryside. At Hirschvogel, we were honored to hear a presentation from Hans-Willi Raedt, the Head of Advanced Engineering. He spoke on many topics related to Hirschvogel. The most interesting to me was his description of the various channels through which new and innovative ideas are collected and how Hirschvogel has no general rivals due to the diversification of their products. I soon realized that I had learned about one of the innovation collection channels, the ibox (employees submit ideas and are compensated for good ones) in my Organizational Behavior class. After Dr. Raedt answered many of our questions, we embarked on a tour of the factory itself.
My tour was led by Vanessa Hartmann, who works in advancing the cold forging processes. The tour was absolutely mind-blowing. I had never seen such giant machines in action, many of them producing such small pieces. I found it particularly interesting to watch how the employees interacted with the machines – how some machines were fully automated, which other required an employee to flip the products from one hot press to another. As I walked through the factory, I thought of how I never wondered where the small parts of cars come from. I had never thought about the small pieces that are so essential to the structural integrity and functioning of cars and the complex processes that contribute to their production. (Seriously, I was amazed at how the biggest machines I’d ever seen were producing metal pieces I could hold in my hand.) I part of the tour that appealed to my business side was the use of branding on Hirschvogel products. Hirschvogel prints a small “H” onto all of their products, which I found very interesting considering they sell to other manufacturers instead of end users. From this, I considered how branding is important for every seller, not just retailers. When the tour was finished, we ate a nice lunch in the factory cafeteria. The employees on the break at the time ate at the tables near us.
Soon, we left Hirschvogel and Denklingen and drove toward the Alps, to a small city called Oberammergau. We enjoyed an hour of free time, during which I bought coffee at a small café and looked in gift shops. I enjoyed walking through the cobblestone streets and admiring the stone houses of the village. We briefly boarded the bus and drove to the mountain of Laber and took a gondola up the mountain. While the view from the gondola was beautiful, the view from the overlook at the top of the mountain was breathtaking. We saw the snow-covered Alps, some of which were in Austria. They seemed so close up even though they were many miles away. After many group photos, we took the gondola back down the mountain, and saw the view of the valley created by the Alps again. While I wanted to watch the rolling hills on the ride home, I couldn’t help but fall asleep after such a full and exciting day.