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Endress+Hauser Group mourns company founder

15 December 2008

The Endress+Hauser Group is mourning its founder Dr Georg H Endress. The entrepreneur died on 14 December 2008 after a brief, grave illness a few weeks before his 85th birthday, surrounded by his family in Arlesheim, Switzerland.

Georg H Endress
Georg H Endress

The press office at Endress+Hauser has provided the following account of Dr Endress’ life and works.

GEORG H ENDRESS

The core of his life’s work is the establishment of the Endress+Hauser Group. From small beginnings, the Group developed into an international company for industrial measurement and automation engineering with over 8,300 employees worldwide.

“I wanted to prove to myself, my family and the world that I could carry an idea through to success,” Georg H Endress once stated in reply to the question of why he became an entrepreneur. And with his unique sense of humour, he added: “When we were expecting our third child, my wife challenged me to do something – so I became an entrepreneur.”

Georg Herbert Endress was born in Freiburg, Germany, on 9 January 1924. His father was the director of a factory there. Seven years later the family moved to Zagreb, Croatia, where Georg H Endress started school. He completed further schooling in Basel, Switzerland.

He took an apprenticeship as a mechanic and finally studied engineering in Zurich. After working for several companies in Switzerland, Endress moved to England, to a company which manufactured a new type of electronic level measurement device.

VISIONARY AND CHARISMATIC ENTREPRENEUR

In 1953 the young Swiss engineer founded L Hauser KG together with the experienced banker Ludwig Hauser. Based in the German town of Lörrach, the new company was a distributor of those very same new electronic level measurement devices.

The two contrasting characters complemented each other perfectly: Endress’ far-sightedness and Hauser’s prudence formed the basis of the success. The year 1956 saw the launch of the first own measurement devices. New sales markets and business areas were opened up step by step. Georg H Endress recognized the potential for growth outside Europe at an early stage.

In 1970 he founded subsidiaries in the USA and Japan, quickly followed by the move into China in the 1980s.

Georg H Endress developed the company – in the sole ownership of the Endress family since Ludwig Hauser’s death in 1975 – with intelligence and vigour. With his charisma and eloquence, he was adept at instilling enthusiasm for his vision in others – and in engaging people who were better in their field than he was himself. His comrades-in-arms knew him as boss who was reliable, loyal, hard when necessary, but always fair. ‘GHE’, as he was respectfully nicknamed, always remained modest and approachable at all times. “Popularity is not my thing,” he once said, “I much prefer it when someone tells me that I have a good company and excellent employees, than when someone pats me on the shoulder and tells me I’m great.”

FOUGHT HEART AND SOUL FOR THE ‘REGIO’ CONCEPT

Georg H Endress saw his business success as an obligation to take on social responsibilities. One concern of his was co-operation in the German-French-Swiss region of the Upper Rhine, in which half of all the employees of the company still work today: following the dismantling of the geographic borders in Europe, the mental barriers should also fall.

Georg H Endress initiated the tri-national apprenticeship and engineers’ training, as well as the BioValley Initiative, a network in the field of life science. He was active in the Wirtschaftsverband Industrieller Unternehmen Badens (WVIB), an economic association of industrial businesses, and the ‘Regio¬Gesellschaft Schwarzwald–Oberrhein’. Both of these associations nominated him as Honorary President.

In addition to numerous other honours, Georg H Endress 1984 was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1st Class (Federal Service Cross) in 1984. In 1990 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Basel. In 1994 he became Honorary Senator of the University of Freiburg and holder of the medal for services to the Land Baden-Württemberg (Verdienstmedaille des Landes Baden-Württemberg).

In 2000 he was distinguished with the French insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He received this honour, the highest award given by the French state, for his contribution to international understanding and his services to the economic development of Alsace. He is also an Honorary Citizen of the city of Indianapolis, United States, and the German municipality of Maulburg.

FAMILY AND FOUNDATION CARRY ON HIS LIFE’S WORK

Georg H Endress leaves behind a well-ordered legacy. He had withdrawn from business operations back in 1995, handing the leadership of the company group to his second oldest son, Klaus Endress. Nevertheless, as a member of the Supervisory Board, he played an active part in the successful development of Endress+Hauser until shortly before his death.

In spite of his enormous business and voluntary commitments, the family always held a key position for Georg H Endress. He had been married to Alice Vogt since 1946. Eight children issued from the marriage. All four sons and one daughter are actively employed in the company today.

The children and their families, who each hold 12 percent of the shares in the Group, will carry on Georg H. Endress’ work as an entrepreneur. In their Family Charter, the members of the second and third generation pledge to maintain Endress+Hauser as a successful company in family ownership – as a company that is committed to the principles of sustainability and social responsibility. Georg H Endress’ commitment to the Basel region and his dedication to the furtherance of young people will be carried on by the charitable Georg H Endress Foundation, which is endowed with 4 percent of the company’s shares.


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