When Werner Weitz describes his sector as relatively resilient to crises, his statement is not that far-fetched. Many things would come to a standstill without the conveyors and other belts from VIS GmbH: the letter sorting equipment at postal companies, hydroelectric power stations, rolls at large-scale bakeries, baggage carousels at airports or the belt conveyors at supermarket checkouts.
How is a conveyor belt actually made? There are huge mixing containers at the factory in Treuen, filled with paste consisting of different formulations and colours. This mixture is then applied to fabric, heated and then shaped. This produces the conveyors and other belts. VIS GmbH manufactures 500 different sorts of them – for almost every branch of industry. Managing director Werner Weitz purchased the company in 2000. Prior to this, he worked in power station engineering in Bavaria until 1986. “I’ve been working with various kinds of belts for almost 30 years. I trust that we’ll continue to have a strong presence in the market place during the next few decades. And I want to be part of this company, which is already 140 years old, in order to leave my mark,” says the 64-year-old.
It is relatively easy to imagine the long history of VIS GmbH at the company’s factory buildings and rooms. Werner Weitz wanted to maintain the historical buildings made of red bricks – and still wants to. The complete site covers 50,000 square metres on the edge of Treuen. As many as 450 people worked at the factory during peak times in the past. But the managing director does not believe it is necessary to follow every trend.
“I don’t need a yacht or an expensive holiday home; I’m conservative and try to achieve goals by taking small steps. That helps me stay in touch with the people here. When he moved to the Vogtland region in 2000, he was fascinated by the people,” he says.
“I was an outsider, but they gave me a great welcome. They’re down-to-earth and learned how to improvise during East German times. You often don’t need an expert for each position in a medium-sized enterprise, but somebody who makes a start and then takes some responsibility.”
Werner Weitz is responsible for 60 employees. “The economy goes up and down. But we’ve been able to weather the crises of the last few years without putting people on short-time work or making any major cutbacks.” As an export company, which supplies items all over the world, VIS GmbH naturally experiences changes – like the embargo on Russia or the problems in Brazil. “It’s also difficult to get hold of good trainees and new members of staff.” But conveyors and other belts are fortunately in use everywhere. The sector is not plagued by enormous concerns about the future.
“We’re well networked with industry, which needs our products. We often have the opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes and prepare tailor-made solutions. VIS GmbH is still a classic company – with its own commercial department. We train people here too. We’d be delighted to attract young people.”
The company has its own development department with a laboratory and works on solving new challenges. It is currently developing a belt for a cross-country skiing simulator, on which skiers can train during the summer months too, for example.
Weitz originally comes from the state of Hessen. He believes the countryside in the Vogtland region is even more beautiful than in his home area. “We have the hills and the forests – but not so continuously and with this level of concentration.” He does not miss anything culturally either. “Good theatres are easy to reach. And it doesn’t even take long to get to Dresden or Chemnitz.” Werner Weitz travels a great deal around the world and is regularly in Asia and America. “I always enjoy Vogtland cooking when I come home.” He calls it “grandma style” – potato pancakes and braised, marinated beef are part of it. “It reminds me of my childhood.”
Vita Werner Weitz
- Born in Offenbach am Main in 1953
- Studied engineering in Frankfurt/Main
- Managing director and owner of VIS GmbH in Treuen since 2000
- Loves sport: table tennis and hiking