Half a Century of Fire and Flames: Sepp Takes Stock

Leister Insight21 May 2024
Josef Kathriner, known as Sepp or Trini, has been a welder at Leister for 50 years. He has been enjoying a well-deserved retirement since the end of April 2024. Read the interview to find out his experience as a long-term Leister employee.

Interview: Anja Wieder, Corporate Communications Manager, Leister Technologies AG

How did you join Leister 50 years ago?

When I started at Leister, I was 15 years old. A neighbor had tipped me off that Leister was still looking for people. That was in 1974, shortly after I finished school. I remember exactly that I started in Kägiswil at 7:15 a.m. There were 60 of us in total. It started with punching and drilling work for the first hot air tools. Polishing heating tubes was also one of my jobs, and my hands were constantly black. Welding came later.

So you learned welding from scratch?

Yes, I attended my first “oxy-acetylene welding” course with a work colleague in Kriens, followed by a three-week “electric welding” course in Basel at the beginning of the 1980s. With this experience under my belt, I was able to start welding. In Kägiswil, we first welded together tubular frames used in storage.

What were your daily tasks?

Today it is mainly plasma welding (manual welding). There are always various jobs and tasks, such as welding hot air nozzles and combustion pipes. Some jobs require the right touch and a good eye.

And what did you like about your work as a welder?

It is always varied and never boring. Our products in particular are very diverse. And the team spirit among colleagues is very good. I am also proud to have already been able to pass on my many years of experience to many new employees.

What has changed at Leister over the last 50 years?

The biggest change in my professional life was the move to Sarnen in 2018. I was in Kägiswil for a total of 44 years. Here in Sarnen, everything is now a little bigger and more modern. And the exciting thing is that there are always new products.

So do you have a favorite product?

Not really a favorite product. What has always fascinated me was being involved in the construction of prototypes. You know that you’ve played a small role in bringing a new product onto the market.

And when you look back on the past, would you do everything the same as you did?

Yes, I would do everything the same in those 50 years. I am very happy with my working life. My recipe for success at Leister is: “Create, create, create”. I never had the desire to change jobs. I always wanted to stay at Leister. But you can’t stay forever, you have to retire at some point. (laughs)

This photo is 36 years old. It was taken in 1988, with Josef Kathriner standing in the middle behind the young woman in the Leister production rooms in Kägiswil.

What do you particularly remember from this time?

When I started working at Leister, one of my daily tasks was fetching snacks. We made a special box with a lid that fitted on the back of my motorbike. Then I asked my work colleagues what they wanted, from Cervelat to Schogistängeli, and drove off. It was also funny that in the 1980s, there were seven Josefs working at Leister at the same time. But luckily I had my nickname.

Your last working day was 25 April 2024. Did you retire with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye?

Yes I did – there was happiness and also a little melancholy. After all, if you’ve always worked 100 percent for so many years, it’s not easy to suddenly have so much more time. Of course, it’s great that I can now sleep in during the week. I don’t yet know whether my body clock, which always wakes me up at 5:00 a.m. on the dot, will play along. But at least I know that I can just go back to sleep. (laughs)

It sounds like you have a lot planned for retirement.

Actually, I plan to just let it happen. My wife and I will really enjoy being able to go to Italy in late summer as we have relatives there. And then there are our three grandchildren.

Do you have a hobby?

Yes, I’ve done it for a few years now and it consists of around 30 machines that I have in my hobby workshop at home. These are self-welded machine tools, such as the “Sepp” drilling machine, various grinding machines and also cutting machines. A hobby that I will definitely remain faithful to.

One final question. What will you miss the most?

My longstanding companions. In other words, colleagues who have also been with me for a very long time and with whom I have always enjoyed working. But we will certainly see each other again in our free time.

Dear Sepp, thank you for the pleasant conversation and we wish you all the best for your retirement and hope you enjoy your newly gained free time. We will miss you and your valuable work.