Ludwig Wittek was introduced to WACKER in 1969, back when the name of the German Chancellor was still Kurt Georg Kiesinger. Thirteen-year-old Ludwig had completed an internship for secondary students and had really enjoyed it. When his mentor led him through the plant, Ludwig stood on one of the plant bridges and could look down on the piping from a height of 40 meters. He could hear the hiss of steam and the hum of machinery. Ludwig was fascinated. One year later he began work as a WACKER trainee, and has remained loyal to his employer for a lifetime.
Those first years were really hard, however – just like they were for Hartmut and Anton, who also finished their trainee years in 1970. The training as such was interesting and offered a lot of variety. “But the official language at the plant was Bavarian,” Wittek remembers. “Nearly half of the employees were from Burghausen – and when the locals get talking, you really have to be on your toes to follow them when you’re a Cologne native like me.”
The three young workers were on their toes in other ways too – all three began as mechanical systems technicians and worked their way up over the years to become high-tech specialists. In the early 1970s, the plant was still using canaries for safety monitoring. “Before we set foot in a container, we would lower the bird down in its cage first,” says Wittek. “If it was still singing after two minutes, we would go in.” Even though none of the canaries ever came to harm, the animals were replaced around 1974 by a gas chromatograph that checked oxygen and nitrogen levels.