A look behind the scene of the lake Zell shipping company
Interesting Stories and Facts about the work of Anton Fürstauer and his team
Are you too a fan of the Lake Zell Shipping Company? You surely know the fleet of excursion boats which stylishly, smoothly and gracefully glides across Lake Zell during the summer months. This is also how I know them, and I have been on board on one or the other boat in the meantime. But what I, and probably you too, hadn’t experienced yet was a look behind the scene of the Lake Zell Shipping Company. Last Friday, however, I had the privilege to meet the operations manager of the Lake Zell Shipping Company, Mr Anton Fürstauer, and to visit the boathouse and the shipyard.
THERE WHERE THE BOATS SLEEP …
… was the meeting point for a rather interesting morning. Finally, I was allowed to step into the distinctive boathouse at the lake promenade and to take a look inside. Mr Fürstauer, or Anton as I am allowed to call him now, greeted me friendly and showed me his exciting world. I am very interested in the technical background and I wanted to know more about shipping on the lake. My questions are answered in detail and Anton makes time to explain everything to me. If you are interested in what I learnt, then you really should carry on reading:
FIRSTLY, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME, ANTON. FOR HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING FOR THE LAKE ZELL SHIPPING COMPANY?
To be honest, my entire life has been all about ships and boats. Being close to water has always appealed to me, and Lake Zell is the main reason why I will always love my native home. Lake Zell has been my place of work for 30 years now. But I have been working in Norway, at Lake Constance and for the Rhine Shipping Company too. I have been looking after the fortunes of the Lake Zell Shipping Company for the past 30 years now. We are a team of 15 to 20 people, and I know every screw and rivet of all four boats. I am a car mechanic by trade and I take great care that almost all work on the boats is carried out by my team and me.
WHAT KIND OF WORK DOES THIS INVOLVE?
As said already, almost everything from maintenance, motor servicing to meticulously planned superstructures and conversions of the deck. We put great emphasis on quality and excellent style. After all, our boats are a feast for the eyes. The Grossglockner is from the 60s, the Kaiserin Elisabeth from the 70s and our old lady, the Libelle, even dates back to the 30s. With so many years under the keel, there is always something to do, to repair and to service. Privately, I am also a great fan of vintage vehicles and I own several vintage motorbikes. I devote most of my time to old machines, whether on the road or by water. The better our boats are cared for, the longer they will beautify the appearance of Lake Zell. It starts with the cleaning team, which puts great emphasis on cleanliness, and goes right through to the constant inspections by the captains. Skilled handling of the boat and the machine protects the motor and saves a lot of fuel.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOAT?
This is very difficult to answer. But then again, it’s quite easy. My “baby” is the Kaiserin Elisabeth because I was able to make many great adaptations and conversions and it is the boat I captain the most at Lake Zell. To answer your next question already, I might be the operations manager but I am still doing my normal shipping service. I like the K. Elisabeth best and I captain this boat frequently. I love the boat’s Dutch design. It reminds of the famous boats on the canals in Amsterdam, adopts perfectly to the lake and appears to be part of the water line. Simply beautiful.
WHAT ADAPTATIONS HAVE YOU MADE TO THE BOAT ALREADY?
Well, quite a lot actually. The entire superstructure on the top deck of the K. Elisabeth has been done by us. This was never planned when the boat was constructed, and planning it took countless phone calls to the constructors. After all, we don’t want the beautiful Elisabeth keeling over in the middle of the lake (he laughs). The same goes for the MS Schmittenhöhe. The top deck, which is actually a real highlight during special tours or events, was originally simply the roof of the boat. I took charge of this and planned and realised everything together with the constructors. Now we have a top deck with space for up to 50 persons. A real dream for passenger when we ship through the evening sun on a balmy, sunny summer’s eve.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES AT WORK?
The weather and the people. If, like this summer, there are many thunderstorms in the Pinzgau, then this puts quite some demands on the staff and the machine. In general, a thunderstorm has not much effect on our boats. Our captains are TOP-qualified and can handle difficult conditions. But when the wind of an imminent thunderstorm blows from the south, then it might happen that we cannot leave the shore despite all modern technology – the pressure of the wind and the water would be too much. In such cases, we stay ashore. If a thunderstorm catches us on a tour in the middle of the lake, then we literally weather the storm. This happened during the summer solstice this summer. Such a situation requires great know-how and experience to turn the boat into the wind in a way that no-one on board feels uncomfortable. Much skill is needed for this and it is often the most experienced captain on board who has to take control.
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
Good question. But no, not really. Of course, there were other opportunities, but I love my job. To me, there is nothing better than showing our passengers the beauty of our region viewed from the water of Lake Zell. I love working with people and I lead my team with dedication and great diligence. A functioning team structure is the best guarantee for good work. In all them years, I have not advertised a single job vacancy. My desk is full of applications, and I love to employ young, dedicated people for my team. If you take care that your employees are happy and motivated, then you hold all the trump cards and you know that you are doing a good job.
WHAT DO MEAN WITH “PEOPLE” AS A CHALLENGE?
On a hot summer’s day, Lake Zell attracts many sportsmen and women and those seeking relaxation. On such a day, you have to look out for swimmers, beach guests, hire and sailing boats as well as lilos, rubber dinghies and stand-up paddlers, and especially triathletes, which are difficult to spot because they lie very flat in the water during training. This means that you have to be very careful and ensure that you manoeuvre our fleet safely and without incidents across Lake Zell; this requires a great amount of knowledge and skill. The safety of all people and the quality of our passenger service is always our top priority. This is why we provide our employees with top training and we conduct detailed checks on a regular basis.
I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU. I think that I now would like to become a captain at lake zell too! thank you very much for A great interview and the interesting insights into your and your team’s work!
Just like me, you will see the people, the work, the know-how and the extensive experience in a different light next time you board one of the Lake Zell excursion boats. Anton Fürstauer and his team look forward to welcome you on board soon!