Frank Schreier loves it – the smell of rubber, metal, plastic and oil. The production noises in the press shop, in the body shop and in the assembly hall. “It was fantastic,” he says enthusiastically over a cup of coffee as he remembers the old days and how it all began – back when Schreier started out in the Volkswagen Group some 42 years ago – where he still works today. Continuously. No head hunter, no matter how lucrative a competitor’s offer, has been able to lure him away over the decades: “In the end, my deep inner conviction of working for the right company has always confirmed my decision to stay here.” This may sound unimaginable to some people today, as Forbes magazine, for example, advises its readers to change employers every three to five years in the pursuit of success.
But exceptions prove the rule, as the saying goes. Even without switching companies, Frank Schreier can look back on an impressive career, during which he has successfully held several positions in Germany and abroad over the years. Most recently, he played a decisive role as head of quality assurance at ŠKODA AUTO. He sums it up, saying, “There are three or four things I am quite proud of,” which is, of course, a considerable understatement. During his time in Mladá Boleslav, he implemented several efficiency programmes, developed a ground-breaking measurement strategy, defined new standards for the Indian and Chinese markets, devised the strategic approach ‘Rethinking quality: using new testing methods’, right up to supporting and shaping the brand’s transformation process towards electromobility and digitalisation – to name just a few of his most notable achievements.
But Schreier does not boast. The native of Celle, Germany, who first completed a traditional apprenticeship as a toolmaker as a teenager, doesn’t need to. His father commuted 30 kilometres to Wolfsburg every day, which gave him a logical starting point for his own career. Still, he set his sights higher, completing his A-levels then graduating in mechanical engineering – naturally with a scholarship from Volkswagen, where he worked between semesters.
This earned him not only some extra marks but also valuable practical experience, as did his subsequent position as an assembly line shift supervisor – his “most formative” period, he says. Experience, learning things from the bottom up, in Schreier’s view is essential to being a good quality assurer. But that alone is not enough: “Having a keen eye for detail, a passion for precision and perfection is crucial. You have to feel the components, the adjusting forces of the vents, the detents of the pressure switches – quality must be felt.” Frank Schreier says he gets goosebumps when he thinks of propulsion power. And he can now predict paint layer thicknesses and machine clamping forces with an accuracy of a tenth.