FRANZ ROTTMEYER joined the former General Motors Austria in 1984 as personnel director. He was appointed manager of GM's Vienna-Aspern engine and transmission plant in 1989 and has been chairman of Opel Austria since 1994. In 2000, Rottmeyer played a central role in the reorganization of Opel Austria, following the cooperative agreement between GM and Fiat. The Vienna-Aspern plant was incorporated into GM-Fiat Powertrain, and the bulk of the plant's 2,600-strong work force was transferred to the joint venture. In addition, Opel Austria's purchasing operation became part of GM-Fiat worldwide purchasing. On top of his Opel responsibilities, Rottmeyer serves as president of the supervisory board of Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen, the Austrian federal railway. But he says he does not feel his loyalties are split between trains and cars - or indeed bicycles, as he is a keen racing cyclist.
Name: Franz Rottmeyer.
Title: Chairman, Opel Austria; president of the supervisory board, Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen (Austrian federal railway).
Previous job: Head of production planning, Pfanni (producer of potato products).
Lives in: Klosterneuburg, Austria.
Family: Married, one grown daughter.
Education: I graduated as a mechanical engineer and have attended many courses on production organization and rationalization. I also undertook a senior managers' course at Harvard Business School.
First job: Production planner in a plant producing bakery equipment.
First job in the car business: Assistant to the CEO of truckmaker MAN in Munich.
First car: An ancient VW Beetle. I made it roadworthy myself. But I am no car freak. I just see cars as a perfect means of mobility.
What cars are in your garage? An Opel Omega and Corsa, and always an assortment of racing bicycles.
What is in your car's CD player? Mozart concerts and Verdi operas. Also Tina Turner and Michael Jackson.
As a child, did you play with model railways?
No, I played with the real thing. My father was an engine driver with Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen, so as a toddler I traveled on railroad engines frequently. My birthplace, Knittelfeld, used to be one of Austria's railway centers. My playground was the railway yard.
How do you balance your loyalties between road and rail?
I don't. There is an enormous need for all kinds of transport, especially with Austria's growing economy and the expansion of the European Union.
What do you dislike?
Incompetence instead of leadership.
What are you passionate about?
Precise workmanship, cleanliness and discipline. All our workers have a small brush and dustpan hanging on their machines so they can clean the floor around their machines. When I see a piece of paper lying about, I pick it up. Where you allow dirt to collect, disorder will grow and quality is impossible.
What has been your greatest achievement?
The Vienna-Aspern plant used to be rather badly organized. I encouraged teamwork, established a workers' council and brought in new, modern working methods. The plant became GM's benchmark plant for small engines and transmissions. We doubled its capacity without adding a square meter of floor space.
How do you get on with Fiat?
Actually, there is not much mixing. We report to Turin, of course. The Italians are world champions at improvising. It is quite nice to work with them.
What do you show visitors first at your plant?
The spotlessly clean toilets. That tells people more about the culture of the plant than any statistics can.
How do you relax?
Long-distance cycling and sculpting in granite - because granite is a material that does not tolerate any mistakes.
Where do you get your best ideas?
On a very fast, long-distance cycle ride.
How do you spend your weekends?
In the garden or cycling - either alone or with one or two very good former professional racing cyclists.
Do you take work home?
Yes - but in my mind, usually not on paper.
What do you want to accomplish before retiring?
To show that there is no contradiction between road and rail traffic - especially with the increasing demand for mobility and transport, now that Europe's frontiers are being pulled down.