The USA Series | Felix Scholz, Vice President of Service

Felix Scholz has already come a long way in a short time. It all started 14 years ago, when he started his apprenticeship as an Industrial Mechanic at Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH in Kempten. After 6.5 years working in the factory in Kempten and gaining his “Bachelor Professional of Metal Production Technology and Operations”, he went to the USA, where he rose to Vice President (VP) of Service.

In this interview, you can find out more about the services we offer in North America, about the job of the VP of Service and about Felix Scholz’s personal highlights during his time at Liebherr.

What are the responsibilities of your job as VP of Service?

A big part is daily communication with the Service and Spare Parts Managers: where Service Technicians are needed, how the current installations are going, any emergencies, and so on. That’s my day-to-day business. Besides this, of course, I also look after strategic topics such as pricing of our services and spare parts, market trends, and personnel issues.

How is the service department in Saline structured?

We have 3 areas: automation service, gear technology service and spare parts. For each of these areas we have a Manager. We’ve modified the structure of the department in recent years to better meet the needs of our customers. Above all, we wanted to distribute the tasks more widely: three additional employees are now tasked with providing support for technical inquiries, and at the same time have more freedom in their day-to-day work. This gives our Service Managers more time to look after customers and our own technicians. This step was important to prepare the department for future growth.

What kind of services does your department offer in the USA?

After a machine is sold, we’re responsible for the next steps: installation, customer support, warranty claims, repairs and all other after-sales matters, such as customer training, preventive maintenance, and remote support.

Speaking of preventive maintenance, how does this service benefit the customer?

During preventive maintenance, we first complete a general inspection of the machine: how clean it is, are all the cables and hoses routed correctly and not damaged. We also carry out geometry alignment and check whether all sensors are set correctly. In addition, we change all standard wear parts, such as filters, belts, and wipers. This takes two to three days depending on the condition and size of the machine.

For the customers, a clear advantage of this is the ability to schedule it. They can plan when the machine will be shut down and the risk of unplanned downtime is minimized. We identify any weaknesses that would otherwise have remained undetected and could lead to major problems.

How did your department manage during the sudden travel restrictions due to the pandemic? How could you ensure that your customers still got the support they needed?

Unsurprisingly, it was hectic from the very beginning. Right at the start of the pandemic, we had a major project in Canada, where there were strict entry restrictions. We had to make a lot of phone calls to immigration lawyers and think about how we could get our staff across the border and make sure they would have an acceptable stay. This even included simple things such as ensuring there was somewhere they could go to eat after work.

Then, there was the problem that some customers no longer allowed external staff onto their sites. That’s where our remote service, which luckily we had already set up beforehand, came into play. These circumstances allowed us to highlight our remote service team explaining to our customers that many issues can be solved by remote diagnosis.

What has been the highlight of your time at Liebherr?

In my role as a service technician, there were two installation assignments that were very special: one was the installation of the first Liebherr gear skiving machine in the USA. That was a technical highlight.

The other was the installation of a machine at a customer’s site in California. Our customers are mostly located in industrial zones, so spending some time in California was of course a special experience.

In general, that’s what I love most about my job – I live for travel and the friendships you make wherever you go. I still keep in touch with many of my clients even after all the business is done. The open mentality that people have in North America makes this possible.

For me personally, the big success has been my own growth: from the shop floor, to management, to Vice President. Liebherr placed its trust in me and gave me a lot of responsibility. This now allows me to take part in and oversee great projects such as restructuring our department and building our remote team.

What makes working at Liebherr special for you?

Liebherr is very eclectic, not just in terms of our different divisions and wide range of products, but also because there are so many opportunities within the company to try out new things. The company encourages growth and you are given a great deal of trust. That’s also how I manage my employees. If someone is interested in another area or wants to go deeper into a topic in their own field, I support that and try to find a way to make it happen. Encouraging and motivating employees is important to me.