Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Life: My day with Uhlrich Megger

Back in 1988 in the middle of EXPO 88 I went to Europe for 5 weeks for another look/see at the world outside Australia. Part of that trip was to visit our people at VDO in Frankfurt. Gunter Hartmann kindly gave me some time to discuss a few things that were of concern to us at MAX Instruments at the time.. specifically VDO Road Speed Limiter Actuators. (Boring as hell in this blog.. so I'll leave them right here) He also took us to Mutti Kraus Kitchen where I had the best steak I have ever eaten. It was the "Special green pepper sauce" they told me.

So apart for all of this I was keen to see the new modern factory that VDO had built at Barbenhausen. This was some distance from VDO headquarters in Frankfurt so Gunter asked Uhlrich Megger to drive us out for a tour and lunch in their incredible dining room. I was soon to learn that Uhlrich was a real character. He had learned to speak English in America. So instead of speaking English with a German accent.. he spoke it with a mostly American accent. My brother Max who also knew him called him Megga Bucks as he had this home business ironing sheets for the local hotels. He was determined to become famous.

In his basement he had this giant ironing roller machine thing. I have never seen anything like it before or since. He was so proud of it.. we got a special tour of the thing. But back to the VDO factory. We were obliged to leave our cameras at the door (understandable) and were given two small plastic honey bee characters with VDO on their wings. "We are busy bees here at VDO" the receptionist told me as she handed them to us. From here we had lunch in the factory's 5 star restaurant .. there were some guys there from a Romanian Tractor Factory who were there to negotiate a deal on tractor meters. This was before the wall came down between east and west.. in spite of all the German technology they had seen, they were more amazed by the quality of the strawberries in their desserts. 

The factory tour was amazing.. Uhlrich had never been there before either.. every time he saw something new he would say.. "Bloody Ridiculous" with this American accent. He actually meant it as a compliment I figured out afterwards. Watching a robotic paint system painting a Mercedes Benz instrument cluster mask.. the excess paint collected by a 'wall" of water that allowed for the paint to be filtered out, was always accompanied by.. "bloody ridiculous". Or looking across the machines out through the windows at the pine forest that grew right outside the factory... "bloody ridiculous" The anechoic chamber where they carried out noise control tests was the most amazing thing for me. And as it turned out, for Uhlrich too! "Bloody ridiculous"

 "Bloody ridiculous" he would say to everything! Good or bad I think. And always with that American accent!

To wherever Uhlrich is today.. mate I hope you are the king of commercial ironing in Germany. That would be "Bloody Ridiculous" mate!

Uhlrich and me in Germany 1988