Work that creates additional valuet

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

For over 40 years, GWS (Geschützte Werkstätten Salzburg) has demonstrated unwavering commitment, providing jobs to people with disabilities.

A broad array of high-performance services

More than 40 years ago, GWS became the first company in Austria that committed to providing employment to people with disabilities. While GWS is a non-profit organization, their work is competitive. Their services include landscaping, cleaning, and manufacturing promotional, technical and medical products. Not surprisingly, Mubea Carbotech, an automotive supplier for McLaren, and KTM are among their customers. For Mubea Carbotech, GWS performs surface finishing and prepares aluminum parts for the McLaren carbon fiber monocoque. For KTM, GWS has 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 makes them different?

Astrid Lamprechter, General Manager of GWS, points out the social objectives behind the work they provide:

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 have difficulty participating in every day life and need assistance. This may bring up feelings of self-consciousness, and cause them to withdraw socially. GWS looks after its employees and provides the assistance they need. This is done by offering flexible work schedules, 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, giving people a feeling of community.

Handling the crisis through diversification

During the economic crisis, the general manager was faced with a major challenge of restructuring the company - layoffs were not an option. The situation was successfully resolved by utilizing Lamprechter’s experience in both management and social issues, and public funding.

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 suffered illness that deprived them of their ability to perform like before. It can happen to anybody. We basically have a cross section of the general population.

A business like any other

Sometimes, GWS employees work in-house at a customer’s facilities. This requires a certain amount of training and support in order to facilitate the customer. Ideally, 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 well in view of the 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 made quickly. Currently, GWS is handling precision order picking and promotional item production for BG-Graspointner, and we have even launched an in-house cooperation arrangement with GWS personnel.

A mutually beneficial partnership

Like BG-Graspointner, GWS is also strongly commited to sustainability. The promotional items processed by the company meet important criteria, and in 2018 GWS also published a sustainability report.

Johann Heisler commented:

We are enthusiastic about the quality of the work. So much so, that we are now actively reviewing ideas on how to integrate the organization even further.

Heisler underscores how detailed the 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. The solution-oriented work, project management services and variety of processes they are able to take over have truly impressed us. Going forward, we are interested in enjoying many more advantages.

Johann Heisler
Head of Purchase
BG-Graspointner GmbH
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