Thomas Koy has built up and established his wood manufactory in the Fürhaupten industrial park according to the most modern standards. His products "made in the Bavarian Forest" go all over the world.
"See you tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it!"
greets Thomas Koy at the end of an e-mail. It shows: "He has arrived in the Bavarian Forest National Park vacation region, has swapped the Berlin "Ick" for the Bavarian "I". But "I gfrei mi" has not yet come out of it. Nor does the entrepreneur want to speak dialect. The fact that he is now fully integrated in his team, despite his Berlin manner, is what he appreciates so much about the locals in the Woid.
Thomas Koy grew up in East Berlin, studied in Leipzig and graduated with a doctorate in international communications. He has traveled a lot in his professional life: He was in the Ruhr area, in Emsland, in Lower Saxony, in the USA, Paris, Moscow - and finally in Geneva. There, he was employed as European Director at a large packaging group. It was a lucrative and varied job, but it was also demanding and involved a lot of business travel. His wife and children hardly ever saw him.
"The frustration potential was getting higher and higher," the 57-year-old says. He sits by a small stream behind the factory building he built five years ago in an industrial park near Zwiesel. This is his "recovery area." Here he sits with his employees during the lunch break or after work, drinks a "Hoibe" with them - and talks about orders, processes in the company or new customers and their wishes.
"I didn't know the Bavarian Forest at all before," he says.
he says. The fact that he ended up here is due to the company "Max Liebich Holzwaren Manufaktur". Twelve years ago, when he was looking for a new challenge and wanted to get away from Geneva, he found it. The factory was for sale in Regen. Wooden packaging was already being produced there at that time. Thomas Koy knew that he knew his way around the packaging industry and that he had many contacts and opportunities. He bought the factory. The goal was not to produce large quantities, but instead to produce specialties, very special packaging made of wood.
"We make between five and eight new developments every month," says Koy. Always individually tailored to the wishes of the customers: Whether it's a wooden cigar box, a wooden box for microphones or a kind of case for a three-liter magnum bottle of champagne. Koy and his team find a way to showcase each product using fine wooden packaging.
The boss himself contributes ideas that he knows from other areas of the packaging industry. According to him, the cooperation with his employees works smoothly:
'The Waidla may be a Grantla, but once you've got it, it burns for you',
the Berliner has found.
The 57-year-old was certainly also gripped by his own commitment to his team and his investments in the new company: Seven years after he bought the plant in Regen, he built a brand-new factory near Zwiesel. And it presents itself at the most modern level. In many areas: The production hall is designed so that workers do not have to walk long distances. The wide central aisle serves as temporary storage for the products during production: The carpenter, for example, places finished wooden boxes there, and the painter picks them up and finishes them.
On the roof of the hall is a large photovoltaic system that supplies machines and also company vehicles with solar power. Surplus energy is stored so that it can be used on days without sunshine. Heating is provided exclusively by the wood waste generated in production. "We are now 70 percent self-sufficient in energy," Thomas Koy sums up, not without pride. He has also come up with something special for the products that are created in his manufactory: He prints them with information on where the wood for them comes from.
"We live here in the largest contiguous forest area in Central Europe," says Koy. This is something that has to be advertised, and the uniqueness of the products has to be emphasized. After all, Holzmanufaktur Liebich buys its wood in the immediate vicinity of the plant. And the customer can now see that in the finished product: Here it says where exactly the wood was cut, at what distance from the manufactory. The location of the wood can even be displayed via google tracking. Koy sells his wood products around the globe.
"I'm always happy when I'm traveling somewhere in the world and suddenly see a wooden package that is from us,"
he relates. This has already happened to him in Singapore, Japan and the USA, he says. The only problem he has to deal with, just like so many other companies, is the shortage of skilled workers. Finding new employees is extremely difficult, says Koy. However, he doesn't bury his head in the sand here either, but is open to new ideas:
As part of her bachelor's thesis, a student developed a special concept for Holzmanufaktur Liebich on how digitization and automation can save manpower in certain work steps in the company. In turn, the boss can then make more targeted use of this in other areas. "The employees are happy about it, too: they no longer spend eight hours doing the same thing," he sums up with satisfaction. In other words, the injection molding robots and automated milling machines are not competing with each other, but rather taking the pressure off.
And then there are the employees from all parts of the world: from Afghanistan, Somalia, Romania - and recently also one from the Ukraine: Kostja came to Zwiesel from Kiev in April. There he worked in the parquet industry. Ideal conditions, therefore, to start working for Holz Liebich immediately after his arrival in Germany. It is also ideal that the boss learned Russian during his school and university years in East Berlin and Leipzig, so he can communicate with the new employee without any problems. In the meantime, the "Zuagroaste" from the Spree metropolis has made the new start in the Woid easier for many a new Waidla.
Looking back, Thomas Koy states quite openly: The start in the Bavarian Forest was not necessarily easy for himself and his wife. "When you come here from a big international city like Geneva, it's already a bit of a culture shock." But the Waidla have made it easy for him to settle in quickly. He feels at home in the Woid.
"I wouldn't want to try anywhere else again."