Following endless start-up challenges, too many cheese sandwiches and a lot of second-hand furniture, Knauf Insulation’s first Glass Mineral Wool greenfield site was completed in record time, months ahead of schedule in 2006.
And, when the first products rolled off the production lines, the start-up team was rewarded with the full volume being sold-out within four months, paving the way for Knauf Insulation’s shortest plant payback ever.
Fifteen years later, many of the original customers are still with Knauf Insulation today, a large number of the 2006 production team continue to work at Krupka and those instrumental in the start-up — Dominique Bossan, Jan Brázda, Stuart Dunbar, David Ducarme, Lenka Hrubá, Valery Saparov and Radek Bedrna — are still with Knauf Insulation or within other divisions of the Knauf Group.
They may be in different positions in different countries, but all have fond memories of the team spirit and the entrepreneurial drive that ensured Krupka was a success from the beginning.
‘We were eager to conquer the world’
Dominique Bossan is now Knauf’s Group CEO for Western Europe & Latin America. At the time of Krupka’s conception he was Knauf Insulation’s Managing Director for Eastern Europe.
“When I look back to those exciting times, I recall a great sense of freedom and the spirit of pioneers. We were eager to conquer the world and strong believers we could make it a better place,” he says.
“Those early years highlight the core values of the Knauf Group, its entrepreneurial spirit, and the make-it-happen attitude that inhabited everyone involved in the project.”
Dominique also vividly recalls the gratefully received donation of second-hand furniture from the company’s Visé site to the start-up team’s new office in Teplice, executive meetings held at the local castle and recruitment interviews carried out in countryside cafés.
“The superior quality of the products made it then possible to change the game in the region, installing Knauf Insulation as the leading, premium brand it is today. Most of all, when I look back at the project, I see the people of the plant who made it happen, thanks to their pride, passion and commitment. You must be so very proud. Long live Krupka!”
‘Thanks for having the courage 15 years ago’
In 2005, Jan Brázda, a glass manufacturing veteran of 17 years, was appointed plant manager when the site was an empty 25-hectare plot in an industrial park.