At the “Werftstatt” (which translates freely as “shipyard”) in Burgdorf, three men build boats and restore camper vans – with tools from PB Swiss Tools. We paid them a visit.
Image: Men at work: Kurt Neuenschwander, Nik Menz and Micha Bürgi operate the “Werftstatt" in Burgdorf (l. to r.)
The Werftstatt is to be found on Einschlagweg in Burgdorf. This is where Micha Bürgi, Nik Menz and Kurt Neuenschwander dropped anchor as a joint partnership of independent craftsmen. They take on woodworking, plastic shaping, boat building and even vehicle repair work, when Kurt Neuenschwander restores vintage cars and camper vans.
A close involvement with water
Micha Bürgi is a trained boatbuilder and lecturer at the vocational training college in Zofingen, where boatbuilders and boat mechanics are trained. A love of boats is in his blood: “Both my grandfather and great-grandfather were seamen.” He, too, was filled with the longing to get involved with water: at the age of 23, after completing teacher training, he started vocational training as a boatbuilder at a boatyard in Nidau called Scheurer. He stayed there 14 years “but then it was time for something new”.
Nik and Micha knew each other from their time at Scheurer Boatyard, where they worked together for about 2 years. Setting up their own business idea together seemed a natural step.
That “something new” was an empty factory building in Burgdorf, on Einschlagweg. “I was interested in more than just repairing and servicing boats. I want to build my own - from the keel up”, Micha Bürgi explains his dream. Nik Menz and Kurt Neuenschwander also had ideas for the project and had located a workshop in Burgdorf. Nik Menz has salt water in his veins: his grandfather was also a ship’s captain and sailed the North Sea, and now his grandson, a trained carpenter, is closely involved with boats and, indeed, anything made of wood. He also constructs small items of furniture and does conversion work in private residences.
The garage in the Werftstatt boatyard
The third member of the team, Kurt Neuenschwander, does not have a woodworking background. He is an electrician and information technology expert, employed by another company for 80 per cent of the time. His pulse steps up a gear when he can work on old VW Beetles, camper vans, vintage cars and engines. He is responsible for the garage in the workshop, and if there is a brief lull in work for customers, he works on his own VW bus. There is one main thing that links these three, and that is the desire to be creative: “We want to create things."
With tools made by PB Swiss Tools
The tools used in the workshop are PB Swiss Tools. As part of our sponsoring activities we support young entrepreneurs by providing them with tools – including SwissGrip screwdrivers. These are renowned for their usability in moist environments, so the grip on the handle remains positive even when wet. There are more reasons why Micha Bürgi appreciates the SwissGrip: “I like to be able to feel the screw when I’m using a screwdriver.”
Boatbuilding is a tough business
Is there a future for boatbuilding in Switzerland? “It's not easy”, agree Micha Bürgi and Nik Menz. “The market is small and Burgdorf is not right by the lake. But we are convinced that, by providing good work, we can build up a reputation and a solid customer base." Finding customers is not a problem: "I could take on more jobs if I had more time", Micha Bürgi expresses his regret. But he intends to keep his job as a training college lecturer: “I like teaching and it gives me financial security, and that is also good for the family."
Our sponsoring activities support individuals, companies and institutions that are directly involved in the trades. These projects are exclusively located in Switzerland. Anybody interested in finding out more should read our Sponsoring Guidelines.
More information: werftstatt.ch
Impressions of the Werftstatt
Salt water in his veins: Nik Menz working on a boat in the Werftstatt boatyard.
Craftsmen sand by hand.
Team work: all join in to complete the job in the Werftstatt boatyard.
Micha Bürgi swears by PB Swiss Tools: “They are simply the best.”
In the workshop, Kurt Neuenschwander's heart beats that little bit faster when he is restoring old camper vans – and other vehicles.
Micha Bürgi on SwissGrip: “I like to be able to feel the screw when I’m using a screwdriver.”
Three men and their baby: the workshop is a joint project.