Fun Factory's Homeland Heroes
Fun Factory is primarily known for its range of innovative designer pleasure products that hail from Germany. Fun Factory’s international team of professionals is widespread and diverse with Dirk Bauer, Fun Factory’s president and founder, at the helm. While some company reps bask in the limelight of industry news coverage and trade shows, Fun Factory’s headquarters in Bremen, Germany, houses a production team known only for their output.
Fun Factory co-founder Michael Pahl decided to step out of the spotlight to focus on electronic engineering for the company.
“A ship only needs one captain,” Pahl said. “I’m the man for details — a company needs both someone for detail, and someone for getting ahead. In the early years of Fun Factory my/our presence in media was massive. I enjoyed this very much — until it started interfering too much with my private life.”
Pahl’s day-to-day responsibilities consist of brainstorming and meeting with partners, he said, adding that the most rewarding part of his role at Fun Factory is seeing end results to his innovative engineering visions.
“Since I was a young boy I was ever interested in ‘how stuff works,’ everything was fragmented — nothing was safe from my screwdriver and Swiss-Army knife,” Pahl said. “Later I found my passion for electronics. I’m fascinated by electronics because you see nothing, but complex things (like circuits) can bring things to life! This started at age 11 — when I switched my soldering-iron on and it has never become cold since! I hope my health would not have been damaged by the large amount of solder (which contains lead) that I’ve exposed myself to.”
Sometimes described as Fun Factory’s “mad scientist,” Stephan, who started at Fun Factory in January 2010, does everything associated with product engineering and development.
“The normal work day — it does not exist,” Stephan said. “It’s very diversified. I am everywhere in the factory and always caring for something different. At first, I made original models and molds, but now I do a bunch of engineering and development with activities such as turning, milling and a lot of manual work associated with pneumatics and electronics. I help make the motors and machines used to make our toys with a team. It’s a lot of improvisation and joy.”
Stephan said he was sure of his destined career in 1982 after having been trained in making models and machines. “I wanted nothing else. I have been doing this for 29 years and I still love this job.”
Prior to joining Fun Factory as production technician, Peter Schroeder had no experience handling silicone materials. “At first I built boats out of fiberglass,” Schroeder said. “Later I joined an automobile-tuning company and built tuning parts out of carbon. Then I worked as a service engineer and optimized, repaired full electric injection molding machines throughout the whole world from North America to Singapore. One year later, I became an engineer in the development division. After this position, I became a production manager for a few companies.
“The work at the FF is very interesting and I love to work with people,” he said. “So the work is fun and fills my mind with new ideas and fantasies. I love this brightly colored variety!”
The range of brilliant colors that make up the Fun Factory line may be credited in part to product designer Verena Michel, who has been creating products for the company for the last three and a half years.
Her favorite design, she says, is the Flash. “My first toy, which won a design award [from Red Dot.]” Michel said that the inspirations behind her designs are primarily found in nature, such as flowers, leaves and buds, but architecture and car designs also have an influence on her creations.
Schroeder, who manages the Fun Factory product development crew, said that the team’s main principle is to stay human, connect fun with work and provide the best output with best quality.
“Every human is different and needs response and attention,” he said. “They have strong points and weaknesses. So you have to put the right stuff to the right position to get the optimal output. I prefer a democratic style to lead the people in our factory. My employees could give input and ideas because I m convinced that the workers have the best ideas!