Picture 23,000 walking poles and then, once you’ve done that, immediately double it. If your basic maths is up to scratch, you should now be imagining 46,000 walking poles. Now unless you live in one of Poland’s major cities, with their high population of native Poles, 46,000 poles must surely be considered a large number of poles to be found in one place.
On my recent visit to the Komperdell HQ in Mondsee, Austria, I discovered that the company’s on-site factory churns out a remarkable 46,000 poles every single week. That’s not all I discovered. From a personal point of view, I discovered that I find walking pole factories to be surprisingly fascinating places to be.
“How interesting can a walking pole factory be?” I thought to myself, before the trip.
As it so happens, the answer is “very.”
The factory itself is all shiny and new after an electrical fault, a few years back, caused a fire that would eventually rip through two thirds of the building. The place might not have the impractical eccentricities of a Willy Wonka establishment, but the clean spaces and modern aesthetic are a million miles away from the cramped and smoggy Henry Ford establishment that my brain traditionally associates with factories.
“We have the most modern lacquering facility in continental Europe here,” Komperdell CEO Thomas Roiser tells us, with a look of pride in his eyes, before adding “We’d never want our employees to not be proud of what we do here.”