Heinz Hermann Thiele turns 70
April 01, 2011 [Knorr-Bremse Group]
Heinz Hermann Thiele, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Owner of Knorr-Bremse AG, celebrates his 70th birthday on April 2, 2011.
Born in Mainz on April 2, 1941, Heinz Hermann Thiele began his professional career in 1969 in the patent and legal department at Knorr-Bremse. Within a few years, he increasingly took on management responsibility. Having been entrusted with the expansion of the commercial vehicle division in 1975, he was appointed to the company board in 1979 and remained a member for 28 years. In 1984, he became the head of the consortium, the shares of which he gradually acquired from 1985 onwards. Since April 2007, Thiele has been a very active Supervisory Board Chairman of Knorr-Bremse AG, occasionally taking up key operational issues as well as strategic issues. He is now increasingly devoting himself to his personal interests.
With the acquisition of the majority share, Heinz Hermann Thiele realigned the company. Under his management, many of the most diverse business activities have been discontinued and concentration on the core competences in the area of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles has been encouraged. Knorr-Bremse has been positioned as a system supplier. With an internationalization strategy initiated at an early stage, he developed the medium-sized supply business from Munich with a turnover of 254 million EUR in 1985 into what is now a leading international technology group with a turnover of just over 4 billion EUR and around 18,000 employees (inc. leased employees), of which approx. 20% are German. Even in the 70s, Thiele was making strategically important contacts with North and South American and Japan as well as in the emerging markets, e.g. such as China, India and Russia, from which the company is now benefiting. He gradually expanded the international production network of the group with comprehensive, local value added, to ensure proximity to the customer and local service. As a result, Knorr-Bremse currently employs staff from over 60 countries at around 80 sites in some 30 states.
In the light both of a rapid consolidation process among vehicle manufacturers and in the supply industry and of the increasing globalization of the markets, Knorr-Bremse under the direction of Heinz Hermann Thiele has successfully established itself as an independent company and reliable system supplier, of which the entire capital lies in the hands of the Thiele family. As one of the few companies from the supply industry, Knorr-Bremse has a public rating in category A, outlook stable (Standard & Poor's) and Baa1, outlook positive (Moody's). With groundbreaking product and ongoing process innovations, Thiele has been able to continually increase customer benefit. Winning the European Excellence Award in 2006 and the VDA logistics award in 2011 are just two testaments to the successful implementation of innovative business processes under his direction.
Since 2005, the Knorr-Bremse group has also supported the charitable association, Knorr-Bremse Global Care e. V., which was founded at the initiative of the Thiele family to provide targeted and effective help for the victims of the tsunami disaster in southern Asia in December 2004. Since then, the objective of the association has been to provide ongoing international help to people who are in need through no fault of their own, as a result of environmental disasters, accidents, armed conflicts, poverty or illness. Since the association was founded, project funds of 5.3 million EUR have been deployed and reached around 200,000 people through 69 aid projects in over 30 countries on four continents. Since 2001, Thiele has also held the Order of Merit First Class of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as numerous other high-ranking international orders.
The Knorr-Bremse group is the world’s leading manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles. As a technological trendsetter, the company has significantly advanced the development, production, sale and service of modern braking systems for over 100 years. Other product areas in the field of systems include automatically, electro-pneumatically or electrically driven boarding systems, air conditioning systems, control components and windscreen wipers as well as platform screen doors. In addition to the complete braking system including advanced driver assistance systems, the product range in the area of systems for commercial vehicles includes torsional vibration dampers and solutions for everything associated with the power train, such as the pneumatic booster system (PBS) and the transmission control to improve efficiency and fuel saving.