He always has a plan
The phone in his office never stops ringing. A supplier lets him know about a delivery delay of raw materials. At the same moment, he is also needed in production to solve a problem with one of the presses. Constantly running back and forth between the office and manufacturing and, at the same time, always reachable by outside partners and suppliers. That’s the life and work of André Henzen, 32, director of purchasing and production planning for Stöckli.
“In my job, the year actually starts the end of April,” notes André. “At that point, most of the orders have come in, and I can begin planning for production.” First comes planing for the quantity of each ski model, including for each individual size. With 22 models, each in 3-5 lengths, that is no less than 95 different quantity structures. And that is just for the production models; racing skis aren’t even counted in yet. Then there are the various delivery schedules depending on the country. “Due to long transportation routes, we are already delivering to the United States in the summer. That means these quantities must be the first ones produced, which must be taken into consideration in planning.”
“Perfection to me means always getting the maximum out of the means available.”
Next up is a detailed production plan for individual departments to determine material and staff needs. From preparing orders to milling the wood core, from assembly to pressing. Along the way, every department has its own challenges. For example in pressing, consideration must be given to the distinctive features of each individual model. Eight production lines, so-called “press beds,” are available, but not every bed is suitable for every model. “Since we have models in our collection with various features and shapes, we have to be flexible with the press beds.” Add to that the properties of each type of material for each individual layer – all of which behave a little differently when submitted to different pressures and temperatures. “The art is to always combine the various parameters together into one package,” continues André. Then comes the silk-screen department, which screens the designs onto the topsheets in a multi-step process. This is a production step that demands a lot of time because only one color at a time can be screened per operation. “I plan this department first because it significantly determines the timing for all the other departments.”
In order for production to go as smoothly as possible and as planned, all of the correct materials must be on hand at the right time. André is also responsible for that. Approximately 450-500 tons of materials are purchased by him each year. A large part of that consists of raw materials that are built directly into the ski. Wood cores, coatings, fiber glass, or edges are all part of that. Indeed, a considerable quantity of consumable materials are needed. To coordinate all of that and always to be in touch with suppliers so they delivery on-time, that’s what André sees in general as the biggest challenge of his job. If no materials are on hand, the best production planning is for naught. “At this time, everything is more difficult because the delivery situation for various materials is just not certain due to Covid-19.”
All together, a large responsibility, which rests squarely on André’s shoulders. Nevertheless, he accepts the challenge gladly. “I am an ambitious person and am always seeking new challenges.” That is shown clearly in his professional development. After graduating from secondary school, André realized that he wanted to do something requiring mechanical skills. More by chance, he stumbled on an apprentice position as a ski builder at Stöckli. After the training, he moved quickly to the next stuff as system supervisor and then to department manager. Four years ago then, he moved to the offices where, at not even 30 years old, he took on his current position as director of purchasing and production planning. His passion for the brand and because he identifies with the product is what André brings to the job and why he always wants to accomplish more.“I am now more at a desk, but still always very close to production, which is as always for me the true appeal of my work.” Now, he also oversees training of ski builder apprentices and teaches at the trade school.
“In some ways, I was able to transform my hobby into my career.” What more do you want?
André is also driven by the relationship he has personally with the brand that he has always had. “As a youth, I was always at Stöckli with my parents to buy new skis,” he recalls. Since then, nothing much has changed. Even today, he remains an enthusiastic skier and can be often seen on the slopes in the winter. Preferably with the Laser SX, “which has carves so nicely and is well-suited for my level.” Meaning Stöckli is also always present in André’s leisure time. Not only on the slopes, but also in conversations with family and friends, when for example they meet up to watch World Cup races together. “In some ways, I was able to transform my hobby into my career.” What more do you want?
Such passion is what André contributes in significant portions to the meaning of Stöckli for him: Authenticity and perfection. “Perfection to me means always getting the maximum out of the means available.” Day after day, he attempts to live that. And he does so successfully because the entire team is with him. “It really is enormously fun, meaning in the end it is not by chance that we are able to make such a fantastic product here in Malters,” he says with a grin.