May 7th: After the amazing tour we saw today, it’s hard to imagine that any of the other sites will be as breathtaking or beautiful as today.
We started our day with our first company visit to Hirschvogel Automotive Group. Before going into the company, I thought that I would be strongly disinterested because they were a steel forging company, which did not seem like anything I could learn from. However, since it was our first visit, I tried to go in with an open mind, which I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed the tour. Our guide gave us a very throughout presentation about both engineering and business aspects of the company and from the beginning, I could tell they were a seriously organized company. With several locations around the globe, they were a great example of how a global business operates. The presentation we were given was actually from a program given to all faculty members that have all of the different presentations in 6 language options. One of the things I always hear with global marketing is keeping your brand consistent, which was clear in this. For marketing, most of the tactics they used were similar to that of a normal organization. They specifically highlighted a marketing program they had called Earlybird, which was going to their customers and seeing if they had any needs or if their products were working correctly without any prompting. This is an essential customer service tool, especially in their industry where they have to focus on a smaller amount of large clients.
Another tool the company used to improve employee morale through having an impact on the larger scope of the company was through their IBox: Innovation Ideas program. Through this, they encourage employees to put in ideas, either large or small scale, that would help improve the company. The reward ideas put in with 5 Euro and the employee has the potential to earn 5 more Euro if it is adapted as a change.
One of the interesting things I noticed about the company was their slogan of “Traditionally Innovative”. The word choice of traditionally combined with innovative was interesting to me because it was almost as if they were describing themselves as conservatively innovative or innovative but contained. In America, it seems like the word innovation is used everywhere when companies want to come across as groundbreaking, creative, or anything but “traditional”.
We were able to do a factory tour of their factory that was around one to two hours. I think this helped clear up any confusion about the company as we got to watch first hand the different ways they were forging the steel. One thing a few of us noticed was that there were little to no women working in the factory. I can’t say that I was surprised, I’m aware that the car industry has a substantially low ratio of women and the factory work has the lowest percentage, but it is always difficult to look around in person and not see more than one female at a time.
After the company tour, we took a trip to Oberammergau to see the neighboring town to the Alps, as well as going up and seeing the Alps themselves. The town of Oberammergau was significantly a tourist town, but there were many cute shops of handmade wooden trinkets or Christmas ornaments for sale that were very cute.
Seeing the Alps from the top of the incline might have been one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. To get to the top of the Alps, we had to take a small gondola with about 10 of us at a time. I think we were all in awe at how beautiful the mountains were, how clear our view was, and how vast and wide the view stretched. I couldn’t possibly imagine being able to live so close to the Alps and not marvel every day at them. Especially coming from a state where all of the land is flat and I’m used to not seeing views anything like it, the Alps were very special to me.
Today by far was the best day I’ve had so far on the trip. Pairing a company visit with a location tour was a great combination because we were all able to regain energy on the bus and I really like both aspects of the day. The Alps so far have been the highlight of the day and the trip; it’ll be hard to think that I might never see them again, so making a return trip back to Europe is very convincing.