06.08.2019 | The first nuclear power plant director in Switzerland created the "we" feeling

Role model Kurt Küffer

Kurt Küffer ran the Beznau nuclear power plant for fourteen years and created a new company culture: He facilitated various participatory procedures, founded an internal operations commission, advocated joint problem-solving, promoted an open communication policy and organised special training programmes for his staff. At the headquarters in Baden, Küffer is described as a role model who watched over everything and everyone: His staff, his plant – and the legendary Beznau spirit.

Former employees remember Kurt Küffer well. How modern his views were because even back then he thought employees were the most important element in a company. He looked ahead and recognised the obligation to bring and to provide information long before it was taught in leadership seminars. He understood how to be close to his staff and remain a respected person of authority at the same time. He would drive out to the island on New Year's day to wish the shift workers a happy new year. Küffer believed that a nuclear power plant could only be operated by a close-knit group. The sports club that was established on his initiative in 1971 also supported this unity. The basketball tournament in the power-house remains unforgettable. Küffer played and knew all the team members and what their jobs were at the plant. 

"Justified criticism is OK"

Someone recalls a story that accurately depicts the Beznau spirit: In solidarity to his staff, power plant director Kurt Küffer squeezed into the steam generator in protective gear during a scheduled outage. Küffer handled himself rather clumsily. His colleague, who had no idea who was behind the mask, strongly reprimanded him using quite explicit language. When the masks were removed he wanted to disappear. Küffer cheered him up: "Justified criticism is always OK. Especially when someone is acting as stupidly as I was."

«Wir von der Insel»

Three generations that have operated and still operate the power plant talk about their experiences and memories at Beznau: From the euphoric beginnings in the 60's through all the upheavals up until today. These are testimonies on 50 years of nuclear history in Switzerland.

On the occasion of the KKB 50-year anniversary, a book featuring three generations of employees, how they work at the Beznau power plant, how they think and how they live will be published in September 2019.

The book was written Steven Schneider from Bad Zurzach, a journalist and the author of various works including Axpo anniversary publications.

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