Welcome back, Roger Schöpf!

»The best is yet to come!« The new album by his favorite band, Accept, definitely reflects Roger Schöpf's attitude as he starts his new role as Head of Global Operations at the CHIRON Group. And why has he still not had enough after almost 37 years at CHIRON? speedfactor investigated.

Mr. Schöpf, as the Stuttgarter Newspaper said in a portrait in 2018, you were »on the payroll« at CHIRON for 37 years. And now you're back in the CHIRON Group. Why?
Well, I wanted to celebrate my 40th of course! Joking aside, CHIRON has always been much more than an employer to me. I've always been thoroughly inspired by what we do here and I never really felt like I left. I stayed in contact, kept communicating and followed the exciting developments with great interest. In my role for Gühring I had the opportunity to look at the market competitors in machine-tool engineering and, to be totally candid, CHIRON and the CHIRON Group today is really something special.

Can you explain in more detail? Special in which respect?
It's the employees that make the difference for me. Their skills, their innovative spirit and the courage to follow untrodden paths; these are these bases for all the developments which have kept us as the front-runner in machine-tool engineering for decades. The »CHIRON-Spirit« is not an empty phrase – it's really there. This will, to work together to succeed, is really unique. If you look at how many employees this year are celebrating their 10th, 25th or even 40th work anniversary, I think that speaks for itself. This spirit is in the CHIRON Group DNA and I am convinced that it is a key ingredient for our future success, too.

Recently, as Head of Application in the CHIRON Group, you were responsible for turnkey projects, now you are Head of Global Operations and are in charge of all production locations. What drew you to your new role? What are the similarities and differences?
Application is customer-facing and you receive immediate feedback. And it is, if you will, the customer to our Production sites in Neuhausen and Taicang. Now I'm sort of on the other side – I'm a supplier. If something isn't going well, we only find out about it indirectly. You could see that, as well as the field of duties, as a difference – but I don't. It doesn't matter if we're realizing our turnkey projects here, in China or America, whether we manufacture in Taicang or Neuhausen... it's the »How« that matters. It's about a shared understanding, following unified structures and processes. In the end, we want to serve all our customers as well as we can, whether internal, external or wherever they're based in the world. The global aspect is something that's stayed the same for me, thinking and acting while considering the CHIRON Group as a whole has always been my task. Bringing people and cultures together, learning from one another, motivating each other to perform at our best; that's something I can really get stuck into.

When you moved to Gühring in 2019, the CHIRON Group Precision Factory was about to open. Now the halls are full. What was your first impression and what tweaks still need to be made in your opinion?
The CHIRON Group Precision Factory was dubbed unique – and it is, even more so today than when it first opened. Firstly, all the product areas which are involved in the final assembly are brought together under one roof, as are the CHIRON and STAMA brands. In Neuhausen there are the Production Areas One, Two and Three, but we can use the synergies better, slot everything together more tightly and blend ever-more into a single, seamless unit. And for this, I'm relying on my »most valuable asset« – the employees. Also on close, constructive dialog with the team and group leaders in particular. On the point of tweaks... Of course, the restructuring has left space for optimizations and the current tense situation regarding material procurement is demanding more flexibility and resilience from all of us. However, I am positively surprised and impressed by how well we're managing these challenges in already difficult times. In times like these especially, our CHIRON Spirit is in demand more than ever. 

Besides the restructuring, what else has changed in your absence? Where is the CHIRON Group today?
I'm impressed by the new series, the highly complex technology. DZ 25 and 28 for large volume components, the new 715 Series for bar machining – these developments are the culmination of experience and knowledge from decades of successful mechanical engineering. We've also come on leaps and bounds in terms of digitalization, offering digital systems and services with SmartLine and the SmartServices that make us front runners in this area too. Of course, the market is getting trickier and our competitors are doing their homework. But we have achieved our »Seconds ahead« advantage, setting the bar not just in chip-to-chip times but also in terms of innovation, expertise, service and sustainability. These are fields we need to keep working hard on to ensure that we're still head of the pack for our customers.

What does the Head of Global Operations do in his free time? How do you recharge?
I have always loved to travel. I lived abroad for a long time, which wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family. A few years ago my wife and I discovered camper-van travel and now we love to get away whenever we have the opportunity. It's our new passion. That, and Bruno, our new four-legged addition to the family. He's a Golden Doodle who comes with us in the camper around Germany and Europe. Apart from that, there are two things I've always enjoyed, for decades now: My work and heavy metal. Especially my favorite band Accept. I've been a fan since they first started in the 1980s, and I can hardly wait to see them and hear »The Best is yet to come« live in the new year. That will give me a loud, powerful boost of motivation for the work to come :)

Career highlights

1982     Trained as Industrial Engineer

1985     Industrial Engineer in Fixture Construction, Assembly and Final Inspection

1989     Application Engineer

1994     Manager Application Engineering

2000     Head of Application Turnkey Projects

2014     Director Turnkey Projects

2019     Division Manager Core Functions, Technology & Production Gühring KG

2021     Head of Global Operations CHIRON Group