Ladies and gentlemen,
this year, the Würth Group is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and I am celebrating my 85th birthday. The best part about it: We are both in good health. I have to admit, and I say this with great humility and gratitude, that I take a certain pride in this. As my father died unexpectedly in 1954, I was basically thrown in the deep end from one day to the next as a 19-year-old boy. And I started swimming, without really giving it much thought. Should I, can I, do I even want to? I simply did it. This “doer mentality” continues to define our company’s path to growth to this very day. If you get off to a running start while others are still in the process of deliberating whether or not they should even take their position at the starting blocks, you are sure to win. Just think: Back then, we were a two-man business with an annual sales volume of roughly EUR 80,000. Today, we are the world’s market leader in assembly and fastening technology with more than 78,500 employees on the payroll at over 400 companies in 80 different countries, reporting EUR 14.3 billion in consolidated external sales in 2019. With all modesty, I would say that is quite remarkable.
Nevertheless, success must not be taken for granted. It is greatly dependent on the passion we bring to the table. It is only possible to inspire others if this flame burns brightly inside of you. This is why I am convinced that a wealth of knowledge does little good if there is a lack of execution. This is a decisive point if we want to ensure that our company remains competitive in the future. By the same token, visionary thinking and plenty of imagination are paramount when it comes to our position on the market. Our employees need goals that are reasonable and inspiring, promising positive change and thus improvement in the future in order to ignite this inner pride in being part of a successful project. That is why our highest guiding principle is: the greater the success, the more freedom and liberty. This represents an uncanny motivational factor for our staff, while at the same time serving as a driving force behind the modern and innovative image of our company on the market.
OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE
CONFIDENCE IN THE QUALITY
OF OUR PRODUCTS,
OUR RELIABILITY AND
It was difficult to build on this. Maintaining this is even harder. Our customers have confidence in the quality of our products, our reliability and our services. They know that they are in good hands at Würth. This predictability gives our customers the freedom to concentrate on their business and thus their success. Maintaining this trust is hard work day in and day out. Always being there for the customers and not letting up is our mission for the future. At the moment, we are building a research, development, and innovation center at our location in Künzelsau-Gaisbach, where we can address our customers’ needs through the lens of science and research in collaboration with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Universities of Innsbruck and Stuttgart. A cluster of knowledge and expertise is emerging here on 15,000 square meters of space with cutting-edge laboratories and workshops, a climate chamber, the latest in 3D printers, and seismic test rigs for anchor technology—a wide range of possibilities to advance our in-house research activities in the long run and to shorten the innovation cycles of our products. We are investing around EUR 70 million in this project. None of this would be possible without the trust of our customers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart!
In the wake of the corona pandemic in particular, we have become very much aware of the fact that the prosperity in which our children are growing up and which we have enjoyed over the last 50 years is not a matter of course. I myself witnessed the end of the Second World War. I know how it feels to duck for cover as a fighter bomber flies over your head. If these existential fears have run through your head at one time or another, you know that there is nothing more precious than living in peace and freedom. That is why it is so important for us not to forget and to ensure that we are informed properly, even 75 years after the war has ended. My dear wife and I are therefore very committed to the War Graves Commission. For Memorial Day, the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.) created a steel commemorative wreath, with the financial support of the Würth Foundation, decorated with 1,000 blue and red flowers: forget-me-nots and poppies to pay tribute to the victims of war. The past and the future are inextricably intertwined. Against this backdrop, it is our obligation as a strong and united Europe to continue flying the flag of peace and freedom with confidence for the superpowers China, Russia, and the USA to see.
The current election campaign in the USA is a splendid example of what worries me (I am writing this article on 15 October 2020). If the quote “Will you shut up, man!” from the presidential debate becomes a headline across all major media outlets worldwide, then I have to ask myself the question: What ever happened to respectful, objective, fair, and critical debates? What kind of discourse is this? Asserting yourself through insults? Is this the new attitude? Is this how we solve the fundamental problems of our time? Of course not! We should demand of the highest dignitaries just as we do of ourselves to serve as role models for upcoming generations as far as decency and consideration are concerned so that arrogance does not turn every growth curve into a loss curve, in turn promoting a dog-eat-dog society, which our company strictly opposes. Our company history is characterized by a deep-rooted corporate culture that upholds the values of predictability, reliability, honesty, and respect in our interactions with one another. But just writing these values down is not enough, you have to embody them. Let us continue to work on this relentlessly in the future hand in hand.