"Performance, commitment, appreciation" – that’s the motto under the black-yellow lion, symbol of the Medium-Sized Company Award for Social Responsibility in Baden-Wuerttemberg. For their particular performance in this field the Ludwigsburg Zedler institute for bicycle technology and safety was awarded with this prize.
"Among the nominees, there were so many fantastic Projects", tells Dirk Zedler, 51, head of the rewarded company. "We were really surprised and proud at the same time that we have obtained the prize." For many years the entrepreneur has been supporting social projects together with his staff members. Some of them were initiated and filled with life by themselves, e.g. an education partnership with three Marbach schools.
Lubricating the chain, replacing cycle computer batteries, mounting a new rear wheel including cassette sprocket or disassembling an old bicycle to its components to get to know its functioning – these are the jobs the 13-year-old Samuel Schmidt and the 14-year-old Robin Gorzolk are allowed to do in a bicycle workshop furnished by the Zedler institute at their own charge at Uhlandschule in Marbach. Besides the school for children with special needs two further Marbach schools are involved in the project, Tobias-Mayer-Werkrealschule and Anne-Frank-Realschule.
At present, four teenagers attend this particular lesson once a week. Under the guidance of a professional they have the opportunity to get to know the profession of a two-wheel mechanics and to learn real skills. The Zedler team member and master mechanic Bernd Romhart is each Tuesday afternoon on the spot and works with the pupils in two groups. He is supported by the school social worker Mark Lange. Whether they are busy on their own mountain bike, a schook bicycle or a discarded object – the teenagers have obviously fun at work.
The objective of the education partnership maintained sustainably for about two years now, which was praised as “lighthouse project” during the award ceremony, is to support special care teenagers from a disadvantaged social background and to give them insight into promising technologies combined with practical training. "If one day these teenagers became mentors explaining the handcraft to others on their turn, this would be a huge success," says Bernd Schlegel, principal of Uhlandschule and one of the idea providers.
The social commitment of Dirk Zedler, whose core business lies in the field of bicycle experts’ reports, user manuals and testing technology, does not stop at this project. The institute is involved in numerous advisory committees for safe cycling. In addition, the managing director who is independent for 21 years now creates a bicycle-friendly infrastructure for his employees in terms of sustainable mobility and motivates them to commute by bicycle. The Zedler employees and their families are also strongly represented at the Ludwigsburger Barockrundfahrt every year: With donations for every kilometre cycled the company supports the welfare organization World Bicycle Relief. In addition, the institute also donated bicycles for Africa in the past. "We try to do our commitment in many different directions", says Zedler.
Environmental protection and "real" recycling in the company are very important to the manager: “It may seem extremely Swabian and economical, but we use for example exclusively used cardboard boxes for dispatching things, 90 percent of our correspondence is electronically and we do not sent Christmas cards or presents. Instead, the company makes donations. Furthermore, the institute has built a company-own heat-recovery system which is used intensively especially in winter. A major task remains, however, the company headquarter in Eglosheim: The rented building is anything but energy-efficient and has to be modernised soon..
A LION FOR COMMITMENT
Award – The Medium-Sized Company Award for Social Responsibility in Baden-Wuerttemberg has been awarded by Caritas and the Ministry of Finance and Economy since 2007. The non-monetary prize awards companies with staff of up to 500 in three categories which show social commitment jointly with schools, associations or welfare organizations.
Winners – The Ludwigsburg Zedler institute was winner in the category "staff of 20 and less". In the category "staff of 20 to 150" another company from the administrative district was awarded: Ensinger Mineral-Heilquellen from Vaihingen on Enz. From the medium-sized companies with staff of more than 150 the winner is Connect PersonaI-Service from Karlsruhe. All in all 258 applications were handed in this year.
Author: Gergana Rangelov