Being an integral part of the conception for the new grease factory and the new laboratory - Florian Hahn could not resist this great opportunity. In September 2015, he moved to Chicago and experienced two exciting years.
The two new grease factories in Shanghai und Harvey are part of the FUCHS 3-C-Commitment to supply OEM customers on the three continents - Europe, the Americas and Asia - with grease grades of absolutely equal quality (see also page 7). “As OEM Grease R&D Manager I had been involved in the development of this strategy right from the start and war delighted of course when I was given the opportunity to support the establishment of the new grease factory and laboratory in Harvey”, Mr. Hahn looks back.
Actually, Florian Hahn was supposed to be assigned to China first but since the construction of the grease factory there was delayed, Mr. Hahn and his wife ventured to the West instead of the East. “We even had completed a Chinese course,“ smiled the young engineer who graduated in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mannheim and first joined FUCHS for an internship at the grease laboratory in Mannheim during a practical semester in 2007. In the course of his second practical semester, FUCHS assigned him to Australia for a project quite similar to Harvey. “In Australia, FUCHS established a new grease factory with integrated laboratory, too,“ he remembers. “It was my task to train the staff and help launch the production.” One year after his graduation, in 2010 FUCHS hired Florian Hahn as Group Manager R&D Division Greases.
“I just love to get to know new countries, people and cultures,” the native Palatinan, who grew up in Maxdorf and recently moved to Lambsheim, describes his motivation to work abroad as an expat. “It also helps me to build my own FUCHS network.” Due to the nine-month assignment in Australia, language was never a problem and his colleagues in Harvey gave him a warm welcome. “The helpfulness was simply overwhelming and I was fortunate that my wife could come along to the U.S. so that we could jointly discover the country“. With the support of FUCHS Human Resources in Mannheim, which completely organized the move and contributed to the expenses for accommodation, we could find an apartment in Chicago. We deliberately decided to live in downtown Chicago and not in Harvey. In Chicago, we could do with one car and the infrastructure provided us with all necessary amenities within walking distance. The city offers an enormous variety of entertainment, starting with ‘Movies in the park’ to concerts in Millennium Park. We even discovered a magnificent little beach,“ Florian Hahn describes life in the third-largest city in the US.
In order to avoid traffic jams during rush hour, the grease specialist started his work day at 06:45 a.m. “At the beginning, we spent a lot of time planning for the laboratory, ordering suitable equipment and answering open questions from the staff of grease production concerning the new factory,” Mr. Hahn gives account of his daily work routine in Harvey. “Another important task was training the R&D colleagues since the production of OEM greases was completely new to the site. Previously, Kansas City was the only site with a grease production”. Subsequently, his tasks rather focused on the ramp-up of the factory’s production and on safeguarding proper documentation.
“In our free time, physical exercise played an essential role. My wife and I are enthusiastic triathletes. We right away joined the Chicago Triathlon Club and also took part in competitions. I even qualified for the National Championships,“ Florian Hahn looks back. Unfortunately, he could not seize the opportunity to participate. “When the competitions took place, our suitcases were already packed for our return to Germany in mid-August.“ Nevertheless, he fondly remembers the fantastic jogging routes along Lake Michigan, particularly in the summer. At minus 30 degrees Celsius, the Michigan capitol can be grimly cold in winter. “We also went on wonderful excursions – Angels Landing, the most visited mountain in Zion National Park in Utah, was a real highlight and great fun climbing”.
Florian Hahn has fond memories of this time in the U.S.A. and is grateful for the diverse experience he could make. But he is also glad to be back in Germany where his parents and in-laws longingly awaited their return so they could finally spend more time with their granddaughter Emily who had been born in Chicago the year before.