From Barcelona to Weinheim

Weinheim. September 13, 2013. Again and again, you hear “click, click, click”. Then the cameras are turned to a new position and the buttons are pressed again. From time to time, you can see five pairs of eyes behind the cameras – they are sparkling because there is so much to discover. For two days, the five winners of the Spanish idea competition “Una idea para Freudenberg” had a chance to take a look behind the scenes at the internationally active Freudenberg Group. The trip to Group headquarters in Weinheim was the main prize for the outstanding ideas of students at the vocational school in Parets del Vallés (near Barcelona).

The project “Una idea para Freudenberg” was initiated during a meeting between the Freudenberg Group Regional Representative for Spain, Jaume Cané, and the Mayor of Parets del Vallés, Sergi Mingote Moreno. Parets is the Freudenberg Group’s main location in Spain, with four Business Groups and about 650 associates. Above all, Cané and Moreno wanted to give students from the region a sign of hope. “As a result of the continuing economic crisis in Spain, unemployment has also risen in the Parets area. As a company, we are determined to shoulder our responsibilities; the objective of this initiative is to highlight opportunities,” Cané explains. Young people in Spain should not be demoralized by the poor career opportunities currently available but should be given an incentive to continue their studies so that they are better prepared to find a job. It was against this backdrop that the idea for the competition and for cooperation with the “Instituto Torre de Malla” vocational school arose at Freudenberg in 2012.

The project consists of three phases. Initially, Jaume Cané, as Regional Representative for Spain, held a seminar at the vocational school. The topic was “Who is Freudenberg – in Spain and in the world?” In addition to the discussion, the main objective was to give students an idea of what companies expect from school and university students and applicants in Spain and what Freudenberg has to offer as a possible employer – in Spain or in Germany. Every applicant has a chance of finding a position with Freudenberg in Parets, one kilometer away, or in Germany, 1000 km away. The motto of the competition is: “Opportunities one kilometer and 1000 km away”.

25 students were then invited to visit the production facilities in Parets and to make suggestions for improvements to products and processes. These included quality enhancement projects, improvements to production and new products for vileda. A jury consisting of Cané, the Parets local council and representatives of the vocational school selected the winning projects. The main prize was a trip to Freudenberg headquarters in Germany. In Weinheim, the winners not only had a chance to familiarize themselves with the Freudenberg Group; they also met the Head of the Research and Development Department at Freudenberg Households Products, Dr. Joaquin Barrera. After all, the winning projects included proposals for improvements to existing vileda products.

Freudenberg has been active in Spain since 1968 and was one of the first companies to open facilities in Parets del Vallés. Nowadays, with around 650 associates, Freudenberg employs about 10% of the local workforce.