Daniel Baumann was Kung Fu Fighting
Daniel Baumann is responsible for the printing workflow in Metrohm Headquarters’ own print shop. He joined Metrohm at 16 to do an apprenticeship in offset printing and is now looking back on 21 years at Metrohm. When talking to him, I learned that this hasn’t been his only career though: for several years, Daniel led not one, but two schools for Wing Chun, which is a special form of the Chinese martial art kung fu. Today, his interests have shifted from the Far East to the West—the U.S.A., to be more precise.
American Roots and an American Soul
Daniel’s father was born in Switzerland, but immigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings as a young child in the 1950s. Daniel grew up hearing stories from his father’s childhood in Oregon and has always felt a special connection to the U.S. «I was 23 when I traveled to the States for the first time. It was very strange: even though I had never been there before, I instantly felt at home in a way I never had here in Switzerland.» He’s been traveling to the U.S. regularly ever since. By now, there’s only a handful of states he hasn’t visited.
Daniel’s wife shares his passion for the U.S. and accompanies him on his trips. When they go to the U.S. together, they usually do road trips, off the beaten tourist track. «Of course we do some sightseeing, but we find it much more interesting to see the places where people really live.» They get to know locals and hear the stories they have to tell. «We’ve talked to farmers and truckers—all kinds of people.» Daniel and his wife have particularly fallen in love with the friendliness and the down-to-earth attitude of the people in Texas and the southern states. They’d like to move there one day, but they’re not quite ready to leave Switzerland just yet: «We feel like we’d miss out on a lot of things in terms of family if we left for the U.S. now. But it’s definitely our plan to live there when the time is right.»
American sports and music have become a part of Daniel’s life, not only when he’s traveling the U.S., but also when he’s at home in Switzerland. «I love country music and I love American football. The Dallas Cowboys are my favorite team. I always try to combine my trips to the U.S. with concerts or sports events, and I also watch football and baseball matches on TV back in Switzerland.» Sometimes, his favorite sports teams and country songs serve Daniel as inspiration for his trips to the U.S.: he visits the hometown of a sports team or of a country singer that he particularly likes at that moment.
A Second Career in Martial Arts
As a child, Daniel was inspired by Bruce Lee to get into martial arts. «I wanted to be just like him, do what he did in his movies. So my parents let me take karate classes. I was pretty disappointed when I realized that what I learned there wasn’t what I’d seen in the movies.» He then switched to Wing Chun kung fu. And with that, he had found his martial art.
Through the close connection of his instructor to Wing Chun master Lok Yiu, Daniel even got the chance to train with the master in Hong Kong. «I practiced Wing Chun for many years, until my club needed new instructors. It hadn’t actually been my plan, but I became an instructor and ended up leading two Wing Chun schools. This went on for about four years but, the longer it went on, the less I enjoyed it. I didn’t have time for my own training and, at some point, it seemed to be about nothing but business.»
Work at the Print Shop
Daniel first joined Metrohm at 16. He had also thought about becoming a car mechanic or a brewer. But in the end, he decided for an apprenticeship in offset printing at Metrohm: «I liked the idea of bringing thoughts onto paper and of having a physical result at the end of the day.» After finishing his apprenticeship, he left Metrohm for a few years, but returned in his mid-twenties, around time when he gave up teaching Wing Chun.
Nowadays, Daniel isn’t working the heavy machines anymore—only when an extra set of hands is needed. He is now responsible for everything that happens before the printing, such as the data preparation and the production of printing plates. This also means working together with other departments, such as the Marketing department. «My job has become more interesting: I’ve learned a lot of new things and I also get to see what’s going on in the other departments that I work with.»
While Daniel doesn’t actively try to draw lectures from his martial arts career and his traveling, he is convinced that both have had an impact on his work life. «I think that martial arts teach you a lot of patience. And traveling helps you keep an open mind and understand and accept viewpoints that may differ from your own. Both come in handy in any work environment.»