GESCHÜTZTE WERKSTÄTTEN SALZBURG

Work that creates additional value


Our most impressive partner may well be the GWS, which is short for Geschützte Werkstätten Salzburg (translated ‘Salzburg Protected Workshops’). This non-profit corporation has provided full-time jobs to people with disabilities since 1977 and continues upholding the highest standards of performance and professionalism.

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For over 40 years, GWS (Geschützte Werkstätten Salzburg) has demonstrated unwavering commitment to providing jobs to people with disabilities.
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A broad array of high-performance services

More than 40 years ago, GWS became the first company in Austria to fully commit to providing employment to people with disabilities. Formed as a charitable corporation, GWS is a non-profit organization (required to record zero profits; 80 percent of jobs publicly subsidized), but the company’s work output is more than competitive. Their array of services ranges from landscapeing upkeep to building cleaning, or manufacturing promotional , technical and medical products. The company’s numerous customers include Mubea Carbotech (an automotive supplier for McLaren, among others) and KTM. For Mubea Carbotech, GWS performs surface finishing and prepares aluminum parts for the McLaren carbon fiber monocoque. For KTM the GWS specialists have developed a test bench for measuring throttle torque. GWS even has a clean room in which sterile blood bags for medical facilities are manufactured. The company furthermore offers apprenticeships in 14 specialist occupations.



What is different about the organization?

When Astrid Lamprechter, General Manager of GWS, was asked about the differences versus a regular business, she pointed out the social objectives behind the work provided.

The most important thing for our employees is that they are able to lead their own, independent lives. And this above all means earning their own income. That’s why it is always key to ensure productivity.

People with disabilities often additionaly have difficulties participating in social life without assistance. They may be plagued by insecurity and cause them to socially withdraw. GWS looks after its employees and provides the assistance they need. This is done by offering flextime work schedules and providing cultural offerings and privately organized outings, health-related offerings such as presentations on diet and nutrition, assistance dealing with money and the internet, and communication training. The goal, as Lamprechter explains, is to remove the barriers to participating in public social life and to give people a feeling of community.



Handling the crisis through diversification

During the economic crisis, the general manager was faced with the major challenge of finding her own means of restructuring the integrative company. In view of the organization’s social mission, layoffs were not an option. This situation was successfully resolved by a combination of public funding and her experience in both management and social issues.

We concentrated heavily on the region and on broadly diversifying to reduce the market risk.

This was achieved through the wide array of different services offered by GWS, as mentioned above. The company’s roughly 480 employees cover a diverse array of expertise. Lamprechter elaborates:

The average age people start to work for us is 37. Many of them have had a “normal” career but have suffered illness that deprived them of their capability to perform as before. It can happen to anybody. Hence we have a cross section of the general population, basically.



A business like any other

Sometimes, GWS employees work in-house at a customer’s facilities. This of course requires a certain amount of training and support in order to work optimally with the customer. Ideally, however, none of the special aspects mentioned above will play a role for the outside world, explains Lamprechter.

For the customer, the quality of the work is what matters. Every project starts with the question of how we can solve a customer’s problem.

This approach appears to be working out extraordinarily well in view of the highly positive feedback they have received. Ms. Lamprechter points out how transparency and good communication with the customer are essential for success.



How did we start working with GWS?

BG-Graspointner Purchasing Manager Johann Heisler recalls:

The question arose in our supply chain meetings of how we could outsource tasks that are not our core competencies. That’s how we encountered GWS.

Following a visit to the company in 2018, the decision to start working together was taken quickly. Up to now, GWS is handling precision order picking and promotional item production for BG-Graspointner. Currently we have even launched an in-house cooperation arrangement with GWS personnel.



A mutually beneficial partnership

But that is not the only reason to work with GWS: like BG-Graspointner, GWS is also strongly commited to sustainability. The promotional items processed by the company meet the relevant criteria, and in 2018 GWS also published a sustainability report.

Johann Heisler commented:
We are totally enthused about the quality of the work. So much so that we are now intensively reviewing ideas on how to integrate the organization even further.

Heisler underscores how great the procurement management has been:

We were looking for a very specific fair-trade cotton bag to add to our assortment of promotional items. GWS found what we wanted and branded it for us. This solution-oriented work, the project management services and the variety of processes they are able to take over have truly impressed us. Going forward, we are interested in enjoying more such advantages.

Johann Heisler
Head of Purchase
BG-Graspointner GmbH
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