With his team of more than 100 persons, including external employees, Martin Appel, Head of Electrical Engineering of the Business Unit Glass, is in charge of the engineering and commissioning of production plants in his business unit.  His team develops and constructs the hardware, software and inspection systems for new lines. This way, 10 to 15 new production lines are kicked off each year. At the moment, some of his team members are in China, Vietnam and South Korea.

He has a lot of great stories to tell about his journey so far. He started as the first dual student at Grenzebach. He thus completed both an apprenticeship as an industrial electrician and a degree in electrical engineering very successfully. Looking back fondly on those student days, he says they had multiple benefits. Firstly, Martin wanted to be financially independent. He also benefited greatly from the practical experience he gained. He not only got to know colleagues who supported him, but also had the chance to gain an insight into various areas of the company, such as mechanical production, electrical production, assembly, electrical engineering, or plant maintenance. For him, maintaining a connection to the colleagues who implement what his unit designs is still important today.

Young pioneer

Martin's thesis was focused on destination selection. In practical terms, this involved, for example, which glass sheet was assigned to which stacker and defining the relevant criteria for this. Before he knew it, this was the very subject he was allowed to implement on a project in China. For someone in his early twenties, this was like being thrown in at the deep end. But: What could be better than giving young people the chance to change something, test their own skills and directly implement their acquired knowledge?

“We at Grenzebach believe in giving young people responsibility quickly and provide them with the best possible support in doing so. This gives them strength and drives them forwards.”


Martin Appel Head of Electrical Engineering of the Business Unit Glass

Even though it was a big challenge, Martin was not overwhelmed. Being one of the young pioneers in the company, he always had Grenzebach's support and an experienced employee for advice. If you have someone who believes in you and your abilities to master the task, this gives you strength. This way, not only the employees but also the company benefits from it.

Not afraid of mistakes

Martin also had to experience later on how projects and strategies could fail. Grenzebach tried themselves out in different industries for a while. This involved battery production, carpets, automation of looms and much more. This was an extremely broad portfolio that brought difficulties with it. In situations like this, the responsible parties come together, evaluate, reprioritize. A plan for the future is prepared, focusing on the core. Trying out new things is typical for Grenzebach. In case these things fail, they are sorted out and taken as a lesson. "We ultimately emerge stronger from such situations", Martin says. "We learn our lessons, adjust our course and carry on."

Everything is possible

When Grenzebach accepts an order for a plant, Martin and his team work on his area of the project for as long as necessary for the plant to work.

"Giving up when things get complicated is not an option. We always follow through. Our customers know this."

This is Martin's stance and also part of the Grenzebach DNA. When in doubt, the priority here is customer satisfaction rather than economic efficiency.

Growing with your tasks

Martin appreciates the variety of tasks and development options at Grenzebach. From programmer to team leader to head of electrical engineering - that's his career path in a nutshell. He has also worked in solar technology, new products, intralogistics, both in engineering and sales support. This way, he got to know many parts of Grenzebach over the last 20 years, helped with the development and the company's success.

Over time, the travel part became less. Since 2017, he has been Head of Electrical Engineering in the Business Unit Glass and mainly works in Hamlar, and also at home. Martin returns to the roots with this position after a few ventures into other areas: He is now responsible for development, engineering, programming, and commissioning. As part of this, he also helps to drive forward the automation and digitalization of manufacturing. His current challenges are material shortages and travel restrictions.

Becoming a veteran

These days, it's not common to be with the same employer for more than 20 years. Having employees stay for such a long time speaks enormously for the company. Martin is already the contact person for the next generation of young people, even though he himself is 40 years old. Soon he will also be one of the veterans of the company, throwing young people in at the deep end, but thereby also giving them the strength to swim.

Private contrast program

Martins wife works in a small, successful, regional family-owned craft business: the exact opposite to a globally active company like Grenzebach. His family sometimes wonders what he is working on at his laptop. Two worlds collide here.

How do you balance such a responsible job? For example, with the automation of watering systems for the garden, which Martin develops in his free time. For a whole different experience, he not only has his "Schuhplatteln" hobby, but also likes to venture into the mountains, also riding his mountain bike. Martin also has a soft spot for old timers. Not only for their technology, but also for the beauty of some of the old cars. Driving up somewhere in an old Mercedes wedding car or a Beetle convertible is pretty impressive and he enjoys the attention.