It was in his grandfather's workshop that Peter Götzl crafted his first metal workpieces. His grandfather, being a master mechanical engineer, taught him a few tricks while he was still at school. After finishing secondary school and growingly enthusiastic for craftsmanship, how to ask himself a serious question: Would he become a baker or a locksmith? Through a relative's contact, he was able to secure an apprenticeship at the Wittmann smithery in Erbendorf and ended up staying in the company. "The apprenticeship in the 6 man locksmith's shop was great," recounts Peter enthusiastically. "From the very beginning I was allowed to work everywhere and do everything: Measuring, creating sketches, producing and then assembling the finished product. They taught me everything." This experience resulted in an exceptional achievement at his technical college and gave him the opportunity to shorten his apprenticeship length to three years.
Becoming a master at 18
After just one month as a young employee, Peter transferred to the Meisterschule (advanced training) in Regensburg and by the time he was 18 years old he held his well earned title as a master. This, however, was by no means the end of the story for Peter and really shows that anything is possible in the craftsmanship world today, if you want to achieve it. He was able to become self-employed without a problem thanks to a friend who runs a milling shop. So, he became a tenant there and ran a one-man business without any major investments for over a year. Hand tools and a high quality band saw with length stop were all he purchased, in order to keep his fixed costs low. And because he started his own business while technically unemployed, he also received some financial support from the government.
Keeping up the conversation
Peter got one order after another just from word spreading, although they were mainly contracts for small railings or garden fences. "I made sure to bring each offer by personally." After hiring his first employee the orders got bigger, Peter quickly realised that he lacked the necessary manpower for for these larger contracts. "I was in the workshop from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then worked in the office late into the night. I took measurements, drew up plans and worked out quotations." He did this 6 days a week. "Sunday mornings I would finalise all the invoices for everything I had done that week." A key strategic move to avoid financial issues. In fact, it's not uncommon for craftsmen fall into the liquidity trap as they often don't have time for paperwork.
The construction of a new hall was on the agenda, and Peter needed to take out a loan for the investment of nearly 500,000 euros. "The first discussions with the banks were quite disheartening. My primary bank, which I'd been with for five years, gave me the worst rating," Peter recalled. He was just 23 years old at the time, which made it even more difficult to be taken seriously by the banks. Eventually, Peter managed to negotiate a better rating, and the result was 280 square meters of production space and 120 square meters of office space. Not long after that, the company expanded further.
The company expanded relatively quickly and soon had 24 employees, meaning Peter had to leave his place in the workshop behind. "The to working full time in the office was catastrophic for me. To work and assemble in a workshop is exactly the reason you chose your profession. The contact with clients, the individuality of each project, all that has its charm.