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INTERVIEW MIT OUR NUMBER 1

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We invite you, dear readers, to an interview with one of our employees, Dariusz Deszczyński. Darek retired a few days ago. One has a double meaning. "One" - because there are about 800 people working in the company and "one" because Dariusz has personal number 1 in the company. Sit comfortably. Enjoy reading!

 

(On the cake is the following caption: ANDRZEJ! YOU ARE OUR NUMBER 1!)

On behalf of myself and the company, i thank you for agreeing to this interview. To warm up, i would like to ask you about your activities before joining Addit.  

After finishing high school and completing technical school in electromechanics, like most people at that time, i joined the largest company in Węgrów. The facility offered various opportunities for employment, and that's where i began my work at ZWUT company, the Manufacturing Plant for Telephone Equipment (pol. Zakład Wytwórczych Urządzeń Telefonicznych). i started in a basic position due to my late entry into work. i ended up in a department where only women worked. The job was strictly manual, tailored for women. It was piecework. i was thrown into the deep end – whatever my hands produced, that i earned. Then, gradually, after two years of work, i moved to the Launching Teams Department (pol. Dział Uruchomienia Zespołów). i worked there for about 7 years. Later, fate led me to a "supervision" position. i was a foreman for 10 years in the Transformers Department (pol. Dział Transformatorów). Most of the workforce was made up of women. i worked there until the end, until '95, when the ZWUT company has closed down.

Could you tell us about your beginnings of employment here at Addit?

In '95, i don't remember if it was September... an offer came up that a Dutch company was looking for employees.  Many people applied, as many as there were employees at the company back then. The company was focused on sheet metal processing and the guys from the tool shop – Leszek, Marian (our former Director), Zbyszek, Wiesio and me – we didn't submit any applications at all. Due to age restrictions - the age limit was set at 30 years. i didn't even think about it, as i was 37 years old at the time. My then-Director, Mr. Wiesław Brudnicki, called us and asked: "Why aren't you gentlemen submitting applications?" i replied: "Boss, it's the age limit." After a moment, he responded: "Come on. Who if not you guys?" And so... (a longer pause) we submitted those applications. An evaluation interview took place. The interview lasted... at least in my case, about an hour and a half. i didn't think i would get in. Other guys with experience were competing, and i had a completely different education background. As it turned out later – a pleasant surprise. After about a month, a large, white envelope arrived (Darek holds his fingers in the air, indicating a sheet of paper about the size of A4, maybe slightly larger), with the Addmetal logo, as the company was called then. Inside, it said something like: "You have been invited to an internship in the Netherlands from to," and that they would contact me soon. Marian, Leszek, Zbyszek, and Wiesio received the same envelopes. That was the first group, and then there was a second group of 5 people – Sławek Hildebrand, Tomek Majewski, Adaś Godlewski, Zbyszek Matuszewski and Tomek Zadabała. Sławek was the oldest among us. Those guys, like Adam or the still-working Tomek, are much younger than me. Those other two... were complete rookies (smile).

Later, we were informed that we needed passports and to report to the Dutch Embassy to ensure everything was legal. After all those formalities, 10 of us set off for the Netherlands. It was January 5th. i terminated my contract with ZWUT at the end of December '95 and, right after the holidays, embarked on the unknown with a new job.

A new chapter in the pages of your biography...

Yes, we went by minibus. To say the least, the journey was interesting (laughter). We arrived at our destination in the Netherlands. i recall - in Poland, there was freezing cold, probably around -20 degrees Celsius. Snow piled up to two meters high. But in the Netherlands, not a trace of snow, just green meadows. We were accommodated in the countryside at a center. i looked around – there were animals. They seemed to love horses because there were horses in many farms, grazing everywhere. Such disparities – in Poland - freezing and snowy, while there it was like autumn or early spring. And that's how it began. i remember there was a meeting at the company on Monday. Then a tour of the company, Venlo, and the old town.

How did you like it?

The old town was beautiful. Super. Our heads hurt a bit after the journey, but I'll skip that part (smile). In any case, the day was very long. We were all dressed the same way, as if we had coordinated, but it was purely coincidental – in green jackets. We couldn't get lost; everyone could see us from afar. It was somewhat comical because when the Dutch saw us, they would say: “Once there is one, there are four others." We were assigned a translator, Ms. Iwona, a girl from Wrocław. She was at our disposal the whole time. Additionally, we were given forms or books that guided us through the training process. The second group arrived after two weeks. They had the same arrangements as us – accommodation and training. We had two cars at our disposal: we had a Volkswagen Passat and the other group had a Ford Sierra. The training was conducted in a way that part of the work was geared toward our future positions. In my case, due to my electromechanical education, they took my work background as electricity. i took a welding course there and passed an exam before a committee. i also learned to work on welding machines, presses, and i got acquainted with metal processing, grinding, and various other things. Some of the sessions were at work to familiarize ourselves with the actual tasks awaiting us in the company, while others were at the vocational training center. This was done for 4 hours on a 5-day schedule. Saturdays and Sundays were free. During those times, we went on various excursions, relaxed and explored the city.

During the three-month stay, we returned to our families in Poland halfway through. After a week, we returned to the Netherlands. The other group that arrived two weeks after us stayed for an additional two weeks, but for us, four people were chosen and one person didn’t go forward. After all the training, we returned to our empty walls. There was only a hall, painted and prepared for further improvements. The machines arrived later. We had a press brake, an old Wiedemann punch press, a welding machine, a press, and a welder (TIG which i used for welding). Marian became a foreman. At the beginning, we wore blue overalls with snaps (laughter), while Marian had red ones. A Dutchman supervised us initially, but he was there only for a short time; then Gerardus van Enkeford arrived. We were divided into groups, and small jobs started coming in from the Netherlands, and that's how it all began.

 

And returning for a moment to the job interview – what kind of things were you asked about?

It was a kind of interview... (he pauses to think) nowadays, i think it's called a work psychology interview. A man asked me about ordinary human issues: family, personal life, my attitude toward work, my previous job. He gathered all sorts of information, both personal and professional. At the end, i was given a technical drawing and had to find and mark several dimensions. i don't know how i did it (laughs). i was asked to describe it. There was a lady beside me who translated. He always scolded me, saying: "Look into my eyes, not hers" (laughs). She was a beautiful woman; she was the one asking the questions, so naturally, i addressed her. And he kept saying: "She's not here, she's just translating." He wanted me to maintain eye contact with him. At the end, there was the technical drawing, a test of my knowledge. It was something entirely different for me because the electrical diagrams and dimensions are different from technical drawings. Anyway, as i say, providence watched over me. The recruiter asked the translator to explain to him how i did it and described it. So, i explained it my way (laughs). He didn't understand any of it. But the result was correct and it was good. And that was the end of it. i didn't receive any signal after that job interview whether i was accepted or not. i think all the other interviews went similarly. Whether as lengthy as mine? - I don't know. He patiently listened, asked questions. Apparently, they put it all together. It turned out that afterward, i received a big form with information that i had been qualified for the trip.

From then on, things somehow fell into place... After two years, Gerardus van Enkeford has concluded that everything was okay. A Director competition was held to pass on his responsibilities. Someone won the competition, but after two years, we realized that something had to change. The company wasn't growing; there were no new projects. The eastern wall was particularly affected by the lack of work, due to various upheavals at the time. There were visible differences between western and eastern Poland. That's how it all unfolded and Marian went to the Netherlands to talk to Jan, with our support, to bring changes. Probably Jan decided that Marian could handle it. So we tried. We worked and helped, while Marian took charge of the company.

For almost two years, i assisted Marian; i was sort of his right-hand man. New visions and plans were being formed. The Assembly Department was established. i went to the Netherlands for training. When i returned, i started assembling the first products – back then, it was in hall number 2. The first beginnings of the Assembly Department went through my hands. Then i went back to production. Later, when hall number 5 was built, i worked with Jarek Turemka. After that, i worked in hall number 9, where i spent most of my employment. And now – it's coming to an end (laughs). It's been quite a journey.

47 years, in a manner of speaking, nearly on a single hall, "in one location"... ZWUT, then Addit...

That's right. i didn't think it would pass by so quickly. When you listen to older people, they say that when you look back, it's like one day. When you're waiting for something, it feels like a week, which seems like an eternity. And that's true. Something ends and something begins. Everyone asks me what I'll be doing. A person was constantly connected to this work. i approached my work very seriously, i took things very seriously, regardless of the position. Once in the Netherlands, i had a moment of doubt: "Oh my God, what am i doing here?" That drawing and everything overwhelmed me. i met with our Translator, Ms. Iwona. She said to me: "You know, Darek, it's a team of people with different personalities. It seems to me that your personality, in case of conflict, somehow everything will come together and work." Perhaps that was the case. i had contact with people; sure, there were tough situations, times when we cursed, but that's just life. Certain situations or a moment, and something happens... i never tolerated it when people made fun of someone. Maybe i have a nickname too, i don't know... i tried not to do it because i didn't like it myself, so why give someone a hard time? Just well... Now, i worked with the boys for about 10 years, who are younger than my son. And God bless them to meet such people.

What do you mean by "such people"?

Of course, i mean positive people. Helpful, empathetic, who approach everything with understanding. i often say: "Why don't you guys call me by my first name?" and they reply: "Mr. Darek, you're older than my parents." They are important to me... It's been so many years and I've experienced various situations with them. i met them, sorted things out, helped – i value selflessness. It's not always that something is needed, something has to be done. It's just helping out of goodwill. And they help me too. If something needs to be lifted, a heavy pallet – and i look, and Kamil is already behind me. Or like Łukasz, who doesn't work anymore... Those were boys. i know, i being older, sometimes said foolish things, because, you know, there's a generation gap, and the perspective on everything is different... (a longer pause) Great, great. People who always pick up the phone. i called them often. Even my wife scolded me:  "Listen, let these guys rest." i liked knowing how things were going, both, new work or old – i asked if they succeeded, how it went. That's just how i was. And that's it.

You cared about relationships, about people. You cared about what they think and feel. You were like a family to them.

I think so. When there's a brigade of 100 people, some tolerate it, some don't. i never wanted to step on anyone's toes. i always asked them: "Hi, how are you? How are you feeling? How's your day?". For example, those young interns – there were times when they were afraid of their own shadow... And an older guy approached them and said a couple of words: "Listen, don't worry, everything will be fine"... Because... then that person recalls their first day. I, to be fair, started with female foremen, and sometimes when i see them on the street, the reaction is like "hugs and kisses, always smiling"... It's a devoted bread. And that's it, just that. My whole life, 47 years.

 

Returning to nicknames... Andrzej or Darek?

I have two names. My official name is Andrzej. But that's entirely private. I've always been called Darek at home. It's my second name. i don't know where it came from, but i learned that i had the name Darek as a second name and Andrzej as the first when i was finishing 8th grade in elementary school. i had one homeroom teacher for 8 years, which was quite unusual. i recall – it was the end of the school year. It was graduation ceremony. We were on the schoolyard, some awards.. And my homeroom teacher holds up the high school diploma and reads "Andrzej Deszczyński." My class, 38 people, and imagine - no one reacts. It's like it wasn't for me. The surname sounded familiar, but... My homeroom teacher then said: "Darek, it's for you." When i finally went up, it turned out that for all those years, somewhere in those documents, it was listed as Dariusz Andrzej, and it turned out that it was actually Andrzej Dariusz. I'm used to it by now. Out of all the people here, that person who called me Darek but said Andrzej, it's confusing – "it doesn't fit for me." Everyone in the family calls me Darek. That's how it stuck. People who probably have two names probably struggle with a similar problem. Some call them one name, others another. i had a colleague at work, Grażyna Bożena – i used to call her Grażyna… Grażyna... somehow, it didn't fit for me.. but that was her first name... Here with me, this is just my guess, that my dad probably went to the civil registry office (laughs) and was told it's Dariusz Andrzej, but something got mixed up and oh... That's how it is. It doesn't matter.

What were the challenging and best moments you experienced while working at Addit?

Challenging moments were with new products, new projects and the goals which were set. A tough moment was when the crisis hit and for four months, we were paid half our salary because the market collapsed. It was about saving the company. Such moments decided that... Well, i always emotionally approached matters, sometimes even too much. Some problems were such that someone would wave them off, but it seemed to me that if i had a responsibility "assigned" to me, i should solve it and just fulfill it. That's what guided me. i always tried to be, maybe i wasn't a person shining with technical knowledge, but i tried to compensate with diligence, work, productivity, personal conduct in my position. Or... Such things are nice when an engineer comes to me, this was already in hall number 9, and he said: "How organized everything is here, Mr. Andrzej," and i always said: "But what's organized here, it's normal," he said: "But you'll see when you go somewhere else. I'll show the young ones." i just have tools lying around, everything is at hand. i know it serves me.

But I'll say – there were various moments. Difficult moments due to economic reasons. Difficult because something didn't work out as it should. Difficult because of new products, like when i was welding at the beginning.

Let's go back for a moment to the good moments...

In one word, the best moments were that... After the ZWUT times, everyone had a job, there was no problem with that. And the stroke of luck was that my then-Director – let me tell you – gave us that encouragement to try and apply for that interview. And... It worked. These 47 years really left a great impact on me. The sequence of events over those 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 years... and 100 people and so on. The company is so big now that i don't know some people, i don't meet them... Yes, new ones come after every department and our production halls – sometimes not, different changes, not everyone fits everywhere. Overall, I'll say well, the problems of everyday life are difficult things, but if you approach them seriously, you know that... At the beginning of work, it was just us, everyone helped each other, you could count on each other. Those who came later had their task made easier, as they no longer needed a translator, but a person's help, as much as the person knew, for example: using a welder – you show it here and there, they ask you questions, there's no barrier, it's completely different. It was a bit easier.

What "five golden pieces of advice" would you give regarding work and private life to your colleagues and our readers?

I think so... First of all, demand from yourself in order to give advice to someone else. (long pause) i love what i did. It's important not to go to work out of obligation, because then you don't derive pleasure from it. i love working with people. And especially when there are people like those i had, those boys of mine...

Demand from yourself.

Approach your work very diligently, very seriously.

Solve difficulties conscientiously.

Talk to people. i think people nowadays don't know how to talk to each other. Back then, there were no computers, smartphones like now...

I'll go back to ZWUT for a moment – the company had 1,500 people. The foreman, like me, had 20 women and 5 men. Gosh, it was really hard to get along with those women (laughs), because each one was different, had a different character. And i had managed to reach an understanding with them, without shouting. We had set up rules. They had accepted them.

As i said – demand from yourself. Do what you like. Talk to people.

Oh, and one more trait that i can interchange – it's sincerity.

Sincerity?

If you say something to someone, you confirm it with your authority... Less your authority, because whatever you are, i have respect for cleaning ladies, for everyone. i never graded that. For me, the Director or the lady who has to clean the toilets every day, for example, are on the same level. It doesn't matter. Of course... Each of us has a different scope of duties, but at work, we're all together. And that's important to me. You have to talk to everyone, say something nice. A person is just a person. Sometimes, they have a bad day and have to come to work. We're not like a shop assistant who has to smile all day. But with me, you could always see... i always have such a cheerful approach, so if i had a problem, apparently my facial expression or behavior signaled that something wasn't right. i liked, and i value that in my current boss, in Tomasz Turemka... i worked with him briefly, for a year and a half. But it was a unique experience for me. Working with him was like deceleration for me, a slowing down from that rush. Let me explain it with a cycling analogy – when you ride 200-100 km and the last 10 km is a gentle cadence to let your muscles recover and to get off the bike without injury... i had that deceleration with him for that year and a half. Respect, empathy, no problems, no imposition, and if there are any changes, there's a conversation. We do it this way or not at all. And if something is functioning, we don't change it just for the sake of it. There's no "we're changing it because I'm the boss, because I'm right," no, no... It was a conversation. And most of all, it was when he came in on Monday and asked: "So, how's it going? Everything okay?" And that's how it looked. i value people like that. It's a different kind of work then. A person finds some reservoirs of energy within themselves, a completely different kind of enthusiasm. Leading people isn't that easy. After all, we often spend more time here than at home.

What are your plans for retirement?

Just like everyone else, i have my own house, and there's always something to do around. i have two granddaughters. i never get bored with them. They're often with me now. I'd like to find more time for my beloved bike on weekends. The area is beautiful, and we have plenty of good and safe roads now. I'll have more time at home now, so I'll even go for a ride during the week. Finally, a trip with my wife, who, by the way, was just as much of a workaholic as i was. So, proper rest. i used to read a lot of books. A bit of everything... And I'll be most happy that things are currently going well, and i have my health. For a while, i thought about staying on, but on the other hand, i think that a person doesn't know what lies beyond the threshold and how life can unfold. And now that I'm 65, it'll be downhill from here. i definitely won't sit in front of the TV. I've decided that I'll take care of myself – healthier eating, I've already lost a bit of weight, so after those rides, i feel that it's nice to cycle, that it's a bit lighter. One granddaughter can already ride, now let the other one learn.

Fantastic! i wish you good health and well-deserved rest.

Thank you, and all the best to you too.

10.08.2023