One of Heidenheim’s eminent citizens was born 125 years ago today: the entrepreneur Dr. Hanns Voith. For almost 50 years he headed the family owned company Voith. He is considered an influential figure in German economic history. For his achievements he received many honors, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1952) and the title of Honorary Citizen of Heidenheim (1955). Today representatives of Voith and the city of Heidenheim place flowers at the grave of Dr. Hanns Voith.
Born on April 26, 1885, as the sixth and youngest child of the machine manufacturer Friedrich Voith he joined the family business after completing his studies in mechanical engineering in Karlsruhe and Dresden. At that time Voith, which manufactured paper machines and hydraulic turbines, had 3,000 employees at its main plant in Heidenheim, Germany and its subsidiary in St. Pölten, Austria.
In 1913, after the death of his father, Dr. Hanns Voith took over management of the company along with his brothers Walther and Hermann. Together they led the company, which was already focused on exports, through two world wars and a depression. As head of the technical department Dr. Hanns Voith consistently succeeded in motivating his engineers to deliver excellent performance in design and development. Voith thus became a company of world renown.
After the death of his brothers Hermann (1942) and Walther (1947), Dr. Hanns Voith became sole manager of the company. Working with his associate and confidant Prof. Hugo Rupf, who looked after commercial matters, Voith brought operations at the machine factory into full swing and systematically expanded the company worldwide. International sales companies, manufacturing plants and subsidiaries were established: first in Europe and, already in the 1960s, in India and Brazil.
Dr. Hanns Voith died on January 7, 1971, at the age of 85. Besides being highly successful in business, he was committed to many social and humanitarian causes. Support for employees was always one of his main concerns. In 1965, for example, he founded the Haintal training centre, where company apprentices received instruction in creative subjects and general education in addition to their vocational training. Moreover, he lent his support to progressive social institutions like the company health insurance fund and the health house.
Dr. Hanns Voith’s work as a major employer was only one of his many contributions to his home town of Heidenheim. In the period after World War II he supported the construction of new housing projects, which were urgently needed. In 1946, together with his wife Lore, he founded the Heidenheim Waldorf school. And in 1953, he established the Hanns Voith Foundation, which still actively promotes regional projects in training, research, art, culture and sports.
The Voith Group of Companies (voith.com) is setting standards in the markets paper, energy, mobility and service. Founded in January 1867, with approximately 39,000 employees, sales of € 5.1 billion and over 280 locations world-wide, Voith is today one of Europe’s large family-owned companies.