A dryer for veneer from which plywood is produced. To install this technology, Marc Engelhardt traveled to Chile at the end of 2013, more precisely to Concepción, which is about an hour's flight south of the capital Santiago de Chile, near the Andes. He stayed for several weeks and traveled there a couple of times more afterwards. “The customer’s representatives communicated very directly during the project and the spoken word was binding, creating a mutually appreciated trustful working level. Over time, this also led to a private exchange”, the 47-year-old says. Marc Engelhardt kept in touch with one of the contacts for the drying plant in South America, who lives in Spain now. “In the meantime, we have also met at the Ligna, the well-known international trade fair for woodworking technology.”

Marc Engelhardt lässt sich immer wieder gerne auf neue Projekt-Abenteuer ein.

The daily thrill of project work

How do people approach a project? How are the individual phases of the installation of a plant designed? How do you balance interests and tasks regularly via communication? Marc Engelhardt regards these kind of questions as part of the daily thrill of his work, which has so far led him to about 20 countries worldwide. “Every kind of communication has a content and relationship aspect.” This axiom created by Paul Watzlawick, a well-traveled philosopher and communications scientist, immediately comes to mind when listening to Marc Engelhardt talking about his interest in what it is like to send and receive messages within the course of a project. Other countries, other perspectives: Of course, different styles of business, management and communication are reflected in the details of the project work, whether it is veneer dryers or gypsum plasterboard plants. Chile or China, Italy or India: Marc Engelhardt is always keen to venture out on new project adventures.

Secret of success: Time buffer

What is the secret of successful project management? “It is important to know your goal, keep your focus and to make the most of the different perspectives and contributions of all project partners.” For Marc Engelhardt, it is important to have the time for discussions. “Having to keep an eye on the clock during on-site appointments to make sure you don't miss your plane – that doesn't pay off.”

First training, then university

Marc Engelhardt chose economics and chemistry as his performance subjects on his way to his university-entrance diploma (Abitur). He graduated from the Gesamtschule Heringen in the Hersfeld-Rotenburg region in 1994 but did not yet know then where his professional life would lead him. He chose to train as a drafter at the Babcock BSH GmbH, which turned out to be just the right decision. He went on to study general mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Giessen-Friedberg, “I was very certain that I had made the right choice then. I had an easier time in many areas due to my technical training where I was able to become familiar with the subject.”

Since he started in the international plant business in 2001, for him, every day is an opportunity to learn something new. “You experience something new every day and these insights contribute to the next project. That never stops.” Getting a Grenzebach project team together, cooperating intensively with customers and handling unpredictable events and turns which can occur despite the best of planning – Engelhardt especially appreciated that part of his many years of work in project management.

Marc Engelhardt:

“Engineers, metalworkers, mechanics, software experts, and many more: How the members of the individual disciplines interact with each other during the project is always really exciting. ”

Next destination: unknown

Today, he works as Vice President Engineering in the building materials business unit in Bad Hersfeld. “I now join projects when things get stuck, when particularly challenging situations have to be solved together with customers”, Engelhardt says. “I never know where my next professional journey will take me.” Talking about professional journeys: The 47-year-old doubts that that a comparable volume of business flights as in the "pre-Covid" era will be achieved again. „And that is good. For one thing, we all want to assume our responsibility to protect the climate. For another, last year's daily experiences showed us that much can be achieved in virtual meetings - especially if there have already been personal contacts beforehand.”

In the two decades that he was working in construction, commissioning and project management in international plant engineering, Marc Engelhardt has held many responsible positions. What made all of his positions interesting was "the openness of my colleagues at Grenzebach, who are always willing to try something new". Everyone contributes their expertise, and the teams work together on innovations. Marc Engelhardt says: “Grenzebach definitely stands out as a family business with an international presence in the economic world of the region.” The two years he spent working for another company in between "further increased my awareness of Grenzebach's strengths.”

Bike tours starting at the doorstep

Marc Engelhardt and his wife live in Alsfeld, about 40 kilometers away from Bad Hersfeld. Both love to go on bike tours in the area, starting at their doorstep. Their e-bikes further increased their radius. “Up on the bike and off we go. I would find it much too tedious to pack the bikes in or on the car first”, Marc Engelhardt explains.

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