Hellmann Osnabrück, container repair shop: Two employees are working on a brand-new carriage in the repair shop pit. The rattling noise of the impact wrench is hammering through the hall. A metallic smell of fresh welds is in the air. We have an appointment with Michael Rothenberger. The repair shop manager and his seven-strong team belong to the many people at Hellmann who usually work in the background, but without whom the forwarding business would hardly be possible.
The 56-year-old master car mechanic sits at the desk of his small office, immersed in thought. Surrounded by mountains of files and order books, Michael Rothenberger prepares the practical training examination for professional drivers, which takes place the next day. As part of the examination board, he wants to pass on his technical knowledge and experience to the young truck drivers. And he has accumulated a lot of it in his 38-year career.
12 years breakdown service on the road
Rothenberger divides his time at Hellmann into three episodes: In 1980 he joined the company as a newly trained motor vehicle journeyman. At that time, truck emergencies were repaired directly on the road, even at night – hardly conceivable today. From this time he still has many jobs in his memory. He remembers his most dangerous mission as if it were yesterday: together with his then master, Rothenberger was called to a repair emergency on the highway A1 in 1983. On a trailer the castle nut had come off the axle at the front left, the wheel was completely slanted – repairing was impossible. So, tow it. To do this, however, the wheel had to be put back on track. Rothenberger pulled at the wheel with the strength of his youth, while the master looked out between trailer and tractor for approaching cars. When one approached, Rothenberger had to disappear under the trailer as quickly as possible. With a lot of luck nothing happened – just like in the remaining years with the breakdown service, which probably nobody at Hellmann operated as long as he did.
In 1992, after three self-financed years at night school, Michael Rothenberger became a master mechanic. Shortly thereafter, however, an excursion into mechanical engineering was waiting. As a mechanic, he maintained the DPD sorting system and the underfloor chain at the cross-docking center. When they would quit working, nothing went on at all. It has been a stress test on unlearned terrain for the mechanic. Routine work in the hall was usually scheduled for the weekend or at night so as not to disrupt ongoing operations.
No screw in Osnabrück that Rothenberger does not know
In this second episode at Hellmann, Rothenberger got to know the infrastructure in Osnabrück like no other. As the person in charge of building services, he worked around every corner of the company premises – no screw, no distribution box he hadn’t dealt with before. These experiences are irreplaceable in his job.
The experience factor is also reflected in his workshop team, which has been working together in this constellation since 2005 and unites very different professional backgrounds with a painter, a blacksmith, an automotive mechanic, an electrician and fitters. The third episode in Rothenberger’s Hellmann period also began in 2005. Today, the repair shop team in Osnabrück is responsible for the maintenance of lifting platforms, rolling gates, containers, swap bodies, trucks, mountings and the entire building services. As the manager and good soul of the repair shop, Rothenberger coordinates the orders placed with his team on a daily basis, but is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Even if the repair work on the many trucks in the fleet is now carried out by an external truck service, he can hardly save himself from orders. In the rush hour alone, between 12 and 15 jobs are waiting daily, taking between half an hour and up to six hours. In addition, there are almost a dozen maintenance and repair orders from the cross-docking center every day, and the accident prevention regulations in particular make regular maintenance of the technical equipment unavoidable.
And so it becomes clear that without Rothenberger and his team the forwarding business in Osnabrück would hardly be conceivable – or would at least cause horrendous costs for external workshop operations. The repair shop team is aware of this importance and is also a little proud of it. If Michael Rothenberger had a free wish, however, he would wish for an extended porch, because the increasingly used semi-trailers do not fit completely into it – in winter a very nuisance that unnecessarily complicates his daily fight against wear and tear.