Gerhard Brunner still works in Technical Sales to this day. Or to put it more precisely: he is a sales manager for Silicones in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, advising customers on applications that meet their needs. But if you think Brunner’s job description hasn’t changed much since 1980, you’re sorely mistaken. “When I look back now at the past 34 years,” says Brunner, “it feels like I started during the stone age.”
That’s especially true in terms of communications. In 1980 the WACKER office in Salzburg did not even have a fax machine yet – just a teleprinter. The customer file consisted of index cards, and the phone still had a rotary dial. “It didn’t even have a repeat dial feature,” Brunner recalls. “If the line was busy, I had to redial the number all over again – that just about drove me crazy.” At the time he was selling silicones for a whole range of applications, from construction to specialty products. Once a year he would go to Burghausen for the Silicone Conference, where he would receive useful tips from veteran sales personnel in a hall located behind the cafeteria. “That was a real hard-core bunch,” Brunner observes. “And as a young salesman, it was really exciting for me to be there.”
In 1997 Brunner began working from home. Even though he was out visiting customers three to four days per week and not in the office at all, moving to the basement of his house was still a major transition. “I don't regret a single moment of my time at the office,” he says looking back. “Learning within the team and breathing the WACKER air was really important to me.” That was only one of many changes: Brunner went from being a generalist to a specialist. Today the 60-year-old’s entire focus is on silicone coatings for use on release papers, such as those that serve as backing for stamps or soccer trading cards. “Having a specialization helps me concentrate on my customers even better,” Brunner explains. Brunner has yet another major goal for the future: “There are only just a few potential customers who don’t buy from WACKER yet,” he says, “but I’d like to win them over in the next few years.”
For this father of five grown children and grandfather of ten, one thing is certain: he will stay with WACKER until he retires. He has kept the job advert dating back to 1980 to this day.