35 years at Kuraray’s site in Troisdorf
In recent years, Kuraray’s site in Troisdorf, Germany, and the management of the Trosifol business in Europe have been closely linked to one person: Ralf Eschrich. Cheerful, hands-on yet always ready to apply his mind and build bridges – that is how customers, suppliers, project partners and employees will remember him. After 35 years with Kuraray and its predecessor companies, Ralf Eschrich retired in November 2020, confident that he was leaving the business in good hands because the right direction has been set and there is a committed team of younger colleagues ready to step up!
Ralf Eschrich dedicated his 35-year career to Kuraray’s Troisdorf site. He was originally hired by Kuraray’s predecessor, Dynamit Nobel, in 1985 as a young engineering graduate straight from university in Aachen. In fact, he was given the job before he actually received his degree certificate! Naturally, he submitted it to his new employer as soon as he received it. Initially he worked in production planning, then in quality control for all foam and speciality product lines – including Trosifol®. That was the start of a long working relationship with this product!
Ralf Eschrich’s time as a production manager in Troisdorf in the 1990s was a defining period in his career. Trosifol had just been sold to Rütgers AG and the business unit was at a low point. Sales were stagnating, Trosifol was loss-making and its structures were outdated and bureaucratic. However, product manager Karl-Heinz Spieß and Ralf Eschrich’s team believed in the business and managed to turn it around. Two new plants were built and Trosifol became the leading supplier of jumbo rolls for international glass manufacturers. The architectural glazing business grew rapidly and the company became the market leader in this field. For Ralf Eschrich, that was proof that hard work, determination and self-confidence can achieve a good deal. And he was always actively involved – even if it meant driving to the production plant in the middle of the night. He was – and is – always prepared to roll up his sleeves and help.
Direct contact to Kuraray’s customers – a real enrichment
Ralf Eschrich always saw change as an opportunity for personal growth and development. After ten years as a production manager in Troisdorf, he therefore accepted an opportunity to broaden his experience at Trocellen. That was an attractive job, but he handed it over again after just one year and returned to his Trosifol colleagues. Looking back, he says:
I missed the atmosphere, the team spirit and the commitment with which the people here work daily to find the best solutions for our customers.Ralf Eschrich
Following his brief excursion to Trocellen, Ralf Eschrich returned to Kuraray to work in sales and technical service, providing support for the company’s customers around the world. He found meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds in his work very enriching. Visiting customers in Italy and Spain was a special highlight because the openness of the Mediterranean culture struck a chord with him.
In 2011, Ralf Eschrich became head of Kuraray’s PVB Division. Here too, he demonstrated his ability to relate to people from very different backgrounds. He was impressed by Asia, with its different culture and new business processes.
Building bridges between people
In his youth, Ralf Eschrich played handball and he has always been a team player in his work as well. In cultural change processes at Kuraray in Europe, he set out to build bridges between people in different departments and at different sites. In his view, the company’s ability to work on itself and drive forward change is an important basis that will enable it to continue to perform in the future. Ralf Eschrich played an important part in the merger of the Trosifol business with GL/DuPont, which was characterized by this open culture.
Now, Kuraray is once again facing major challenges, not just because of the rapidly changing market conditions and massive technological change. The global coronavirus pandemic also means adapting to daily changing conditions.
Ralf Eschrich is handing this over to a younger generation and looking forward to having more free time. He wants to dedicate more time to his family, gardening and his health. He will miss the people he has worked with and naturally he will be staying in touch with his “crew”. On behalf of all colleagues at Kuraray worldwide, we would like to thank him for 35 great years and wish him all the best for the future.