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Interview with Simon Gerard

In the right place at the right time - for some it is a stroke of luck; for Simon Gerard it is a lived philosophy that makes for success. For Boker's logistics manager, the most important thing is the right coordination. Optimised processes and the best possible efficiency require reliability, a structured approach, a committed team and out-of-the-box thinking. Speaking of boxes - de facto, no package bypasses it, no matter whether in incoming or outgoing goods. The logistics department is one of the central pillars for customer satisfaction, as it is the link between goods and customer. The articles from our own production and from suppliers reach their right place on the warehouse shelf in the right quantity, so that when the customer orders them, they immediately find their way to the packing table and ultimately to the customer. With over 9,000 different products in the range, this is both a logistical challenge and a matter of the heart. Why sharpness plays a special role in his life and what he would like to have more space for at home, the Boker Pac(k)-man reveals in the following.

How did you end up in the knife industry?

I first came into contact with knives at the age of 25, when I wanted to make my own knife. Since then I have been fascinated by the many possibilities that a piece of steel opens up for making a knife.

You work at Boker as a logistics manager. What does a typical working day look like for you and what all falls within your area of responsibility?

A wide variety of tasks fall into our daily business. When goods are received, the ordered goods are electronically recorded, labelled and then put on the shelves. Returns are also passed on to the appropriate department. In addition, warehousing includes procurement management to ensure sufficient availability of goods in demand. The product life cycle of an article also requires the creation of new storage locations or their dissolution in the case of discontinued models. For shipping, the goods are packed safely and in a resource-saving manner and handed over to the shipping service providers. Every step is meticulously recorded. As logistics manager, I divide up my team according to requirements and ensure that all employees have the same level of knowledge for their daily tasks, so that they can develop personally and further optimise the processes. In this sense, I am both a contact person and a motivator.

When do you call it a successful working day?

When my team and I manage to send out the parcels on time, so that the customer has a consignment number on the day of his order. As we sell through several channels, prioritising the relevant orders and integrating them into the daily business is not an insignificant challenge. From storage to shipping, you accompany the goods during many processes.

Which of your activities are particularly challenging? What do you particularly enjoy and how do you inspire your team to work together for success?

Especially at peak times, such as our specials for spring and autumn or during the Christmas business, there are strongly changing loads due to fluctuating order numbers. We face this task as a team and exhaust all means and possibilities for maximum success. And each time we can draw on the experience of previous peak periods to make the processes even smoother the next time. Recently, the implementation of a new warehouse management system took place during the day-to-day business. That was not without its challenges.

How much physical and mental strain is involved?

It's all manageable. My team gratefully accepts my hands-on mentality as inspiration for ideas, self-motivation and proactive work - this is exactly the attitude they need for daily success. During peak periods, physical and mental stresses are naturally much higher. Nevertheless, the year also offers times when the strain is moderate and energy can be drawn.

How critical are you of yourself and your team?

I am much more critical of myself than of my team. This is due to my own standards, my responsibility and the fact that mistakes in my department reflect on me. Because you can tell the quality of a teacher by the quality of his students.

Do you have a personal connection to knives besides your professional work?

Yes, one of my long-time hobbies is making special damask chef's knives. With a forge and a hammer, I create other delicacies for the kitchen.

A knife fan through and through. How long have you been forging knives and how did it come about? Will we find you secretly making knives after work?

It was a good 11 years ago in a rather rustic way with a gas bottle and a railway track. In the course of time I was able to refine my skills through several blacksmithing courses, e.g. at the LVR Solingen and with a historian. Mainly I make damask kitchen knives, for the damask I almost always use the steel types 1.2842 and 75Ni8, the pre-stapled bundles (7-21 layers) are "packed" in the fire and fire-welded under exclusion of air by using borax. This produces these impressive showers of sparks. I like to aim for a final layer count of 250-300 layers. During further processing, the final shape is worked out and heat treatment is applied. This is followed by the fine grinding and etching of the damask. I pay special attention to the choice of handle material, often a combination of woods and metal finds its way into my creations. But I could certainly still use one or the other tool. When you look into the Boker production halls, you could become envious. The selection of machines that are not in my workshop is very tempting, but my space at home does not allow it (laughs).

Can you still remember your very first knife? What childhood memories do you associate with it?

My very first knife was an Opinel 169. Small, light, easy to use and then it was off into nature. Besides your profession, are there any hobbies or other things you pursue in your free time? I appreciate sharpness not only in knives. Another hobby of mine is growing chillies. So if you see me with a red head, it's not necessarily because of my state of mind. I also like jogging and fitness as a balance to everyday life.

Can you tell us your current favourite knife? What do you particularly like about it?

Here, too, I like to look outside the box. Of course, that includes Boker knives, like the Boker Sherman EDC. At the moment, however, I'm very fond of the CIVIVI Appalachian Drifter II with a Nitro-V blade, carbon bolsters and purple G10 handle scales. A modern slipjoint knife, light, dynamic, always with you and with great performance.

Simon, thank you for giving us these interesting insights.

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