FAMILY TIES

24.08.2018

FAMILY TIES

Whole families employed by the same company – this is not uncommon at FUCHS. Take the Akcesmes from Ludwigshafen, for example. Three generations of their family have worked for the lubricant manufacturer headquartered in Mannheim. This is a very special family history, and it all started back in 1965.

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PEOPLE.

“We are proud to say that three generations of our family have worked here. Everything we have is linked to this company. You could say that our lives revolve around FUCHS.”

ISMAIL AKCESME (30) has been working at the large-scale filling station since 2011. He is a foreman and runs a team of roughly ten employees per shift.

When Ismail Akcesme came to Friesenheimer Straße in 1965, his German was still very poor. He had moved to Germany two years previously as a migrant worker from Turkey, first working in a mine in Dortmund, and then earning his living as a road worker in Karlsruhe. He was visiting his brother in  Mannheim when he mustered up the courage to ask for work at the gates of the large company. At first  without great success. He was just about to leave when suddenly a man addressed him. It was the plant manager, who offered Ismail Akcesme a job on the spot and invited him onto the plant premises. The migrant worker stayed with the company for many years (35 in total). In fact, he was one of the first Turkish people ever employed by FUCHS. This was also the beginning of a very special family history, because many years after him, more Akcesmes are joining the lubricant manufacturer’s ranks in Mannheim, including his son Ekrem and grandson Ismail junior.

A stroke of luck for the family

“For us, this history remains a great stroke of luck to this very day,” says grandson Ismail, looking back.  “That bit of fortune back there on the street has paved the professional careers of our whole family.” The 30-year-old has worked since 2011 at FUCHS’ large-scale filling station, where millions of liters of engine and hydraulic oils, industrial oils and all manner of specialty lubricants are collected into a wide range of containers every year. He had never worked with his grandfather and namesake – Ismail senior remained at the grease factory from the moment he was employed right up until 2000 – but he does work with his father Ekrem. If they meet in the factory these days, it’ll be on the early shift. Ismail, who is a qualified refrigeration and air conditioning technician, works as a foreman. Ekrem Akcesme, who joined the large-scale filling department in 1984, is no longer able to work in shifts after suffering two serious heart attacks. He is now working in the office of the department.

Father and son: Ekrem (left) and Ismail Akcesme both work at FUCHS in the large-scale filling department. But they only work together during the early shift.

The third generation of the family: Grandfather Ismail senior also worked at FUCHS for 35 years.

Learning from “dinosaurs”

What is it like for junior and senior to work together? “Let me put it this way, you can learn a lot from the dinosaurs,” says Ismail Akcesme, laughing and looking mischievously at his father, who has two other sons. Ismail is the oldest. “No, seriously. He used to be a foreman as well; I practically took over his whole team. His decades of experience have been invaluable to me.” 53-year-old Ekrem Akcesme adds: “Of course I like to give him tips.”

Everything has stayed within the Ludwigshafen family. In the past, it was sometimes the same when the working day was over. “My wife often had to forcefully put a stop to many of the conversations about the company around the dining table,” recalls the father. But one thing was always clear to the Akcesmes: “Each of us always knew how much we owed the company.” Son Ismail, whose childhood was inevitably strongly influenced by FUCHS, emphasizes the point: “We are proud to say that three generations of our family have worked here. Everything we have is linked to this company. You could say that our lives revolve around FUCHS.” In the past, people used to mock his father at school: “When I was a child, my German wasn’t very good. When I told people that my dad worked for ’Öl-FUCHS’, the  other pupils didn’t really understand what I meant and made fun of me,” explains Akcesme, who moved with his mother to Germany in 1972 when he was eight years old. “But of course every person in the region knows this company.”

When I was a child, my German wasn’t very good. When I told people at school that my dad worked for ’Öl-FUCHS’, the other pupils didn’t really understand what I meant and made fun of me. But of course every person in the region knows this company.“

EKREM AKCESME (53), MOVED TO GERMANY IN 1972 WHEN HE WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD.

A special family-like environment

Ekrem Akcesme has gained a special appreciation for the strong family-like environment and the high level of responsibility that the family-run group demonstrates toward its employees, especially after his own period of illness, which continues to limit him to this day. “After this difficult time, I genuinely felt that I was in good hands,” recalls the qualified gas and water fitter. “FUCHS really has been very accommodating as an employer. This should not be taken for granted.” The Akcesmes discovered that these ties to the lubricant specialist extend beyond their immediate family circle and national borders when they visited Izmir, where the family has its roots. “We learned entirely by chance that my mother’s cousin works for OPET FUCHS,” says Ismail Akcesme. And the family’s ties to FUCHS could potentially become even greater, as his youngest brother, who still attends school, did an internship at Friesenheimer Straße – in the training workshop and laboratory.

The different products make their way through pipes from the tank farm and mixing plant to the main hall, where they are filled into containers such as drums.

The latest filling technology makes it also possible to deal with the rapid increase of filling volumes.

Shifts around the clock

Foreman Ismail places special emphasis on instilling a family-like environment with his team at the large-scale filling station. In this respect, he is following his father’s advice: “I told him, don’t pass stress on to your people. Make sure there is a good working environment, even when things get hectic.” And things can sometimes get very stressful at the large-scale filling station, where staff work in three shifts around the clock, six days a week. There are up to ten employees per shift alternating between 13 filling lines. The different products make their way through pipes from the tank farm and mixing plant to the main hall, where they are filled into canisters and drums of varying sizes, not to mention into 1,000-liter containers. Afterwards, employees seal and label the containers before shipping them off on the conveyor belt to the high-bay warehouse.

Control: three-person principle

Back in the 1980s, filling amounts ranged between 60,000 and 80,000 liters a day. Now, the department works with volumes of up to 400,000 liters a day – and this number is rising. One employee alone fills between 40 and 60 containers per shift on average. Every movement, every fill has to be perfect. If mistakes occur, customers may even receive the wrong oil. But Ismail Akcesme can rest assured: “Our error rate is practically zero. Taking into account the filler, foreman and quality controller, our checks are carried out at the very least in accordance with the two-person principle, and mostly in accordance with the three-person principle.” He also knows that there is a state-of-the-art laboratory analyzing all his filling operations, which will identify even the tiniest of mistakes. Over all these years, Ismail Akcesme has learned a great deal from his father, who in turn learned from his father, Ismail senior, who once plucked up the courage to ask for work in broken German in Friesenheimer Straße. A stroke of luck for the entire Akcesme family – and for FUCHS.

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