40 years at MENZEL – Congratulations to our Head of Production Thomas Dobratz
From a repair store "with a bit of dirt" - at that time maintenance of the local Berlin industry was still an important mainstay - to an international motor supplier with upward potential - this is how Head of Production Thomas Dobratz describes the development of Menzel Elektromotoren GmbH over the last 40 years. That's how long the 55-year-old has been part of the family business - which, he says himself, has always been exciting. On September 1, 2022, he will celebrate this special anniversary.
Thomas‘s father and two of his uncles were already working for the company when young Dobratz first started earning a bit of pocket money during the school vacations by doing temporary work at MENZEL in 1980. However, it was not immediately clear that he would begin his training here two years later. There was nothing standing in the way of his dream job as a policeman: Dobratz had passed all the entrance tests, but had no desire to spend a year in the barracks, which he would have had to do. So he decided on an apprenticeship with MENZEL to become an electronics specialist for motor technology.
At first there was dirt and stress
Dobratz still remembers the first day of training well: a lot of dust, dirt and the repair of a motor from a food industry customer, which was still hanging full of meat remains! "So it was already extremely stressful and I thought: What have I done? However, on the second day, a new exciting task was waiting for me, and I was already allowed to wind coils."
The apprentice seemed to particularly enjoy winding motors. Kurt Menzel, son of the company founder and already a member of the management at that time, remembers: "I was new to the apprentice training at that time and Mr. Dobratz had been given a very intricate journeyman's piece of winding of a DC motor from me. Today, you would never trust an apprentice to do that. Thomas Dobratz handed in this intricate piece of work, no doubt cursing softly, but the work was flawless. Whether he still bears me a grudge, I don't know...". Hardly, when you hear Dobratz talk about the Menzel family and the special culture at the electrical machine manufacturer, which is now managed by Mathis Menzel in the third generation: "It was just always very familiar and if you had problems, you could go to the management and get help." This special working environment is still great today, he says.
Reasons to stay: Family business with heart, development prospects and permanent excitement
The family spirit of Menzel Elektromotoren has not changed since its founding in 1927. However, the company has always encapsulated change: Due to Berlin's politically insular location for many years, MENZEL was much in demand for the maintenance and repair of railroad motors along with the manufacture of transformers until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, however, the company concentrates on the manufacture and supply of large customized motors that are used all over the world. With this development into an internationally recognized motor supplier, the conditions for an apprenticship have also improved significantly. However, the training content is essentially the same today as it was then - according to Dobratz, who now manages the entire manufacturing process at Menzel Elektromotoren. He says he got to this important management position through a lot of commitment and the will to develop himself further. "A lot of commitment" is also his advice to the younger generation. After all, the company is on a growth course and is constantly looking for motivated young talent.
Along with the growth, another change is literally on the horizon: Next year, this traditional company will relocate its headquarters to Hennigsdorf and move into a modern plant on 24,000 m². The new premises will cope with the increased order situation. Customer specific wishes can then be implemented even better. Even if moving usually means a bit of stress: Thomas Dobratz is looking forward to this perspective and another decade with MENZEL. Because one thing is certain: It never gets boring! Which is also the reason why he is still happy to be there after all these years.
40 years on the job, and now?
Looking ahead, Dobratz wishes the company "to always be human in the future, too." In addition, finding a good successor is high on his long-term wish list. We, the colleagues, don't even want to think about that yet and are now looking forward to many more years with our esteemed colleague, friend and role model.
Congratulations on your anniversary, Thomas Dobratz!