Heinz Hermann Thiele, who over many years built up and expanded Knorr-Bremse, was one of Germany’s great business leaders. He possessed a keen sense for opportunities, which he pounced on with tenacity. He used his drive and entrepreneurial skills to grow a relatively small company into a multinational organization whose train and road infrastructures are now relied upon by millions of people daily.
His business continues today, and with it, his corporate culture of never settling for less than the best, pursuing excellence and market leadership with all of one’s might, remaining vigilant at all times, and advancing innovation. Heinz Hermann Thiele’s attitude on life became especially clear at a number of pivotal moments in his life, attitudes that many current Knorr-Bremse employees have embraced and adopted.
Heinz Hermann Thiele Bio/Wiki
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He was born on April 2, 1941, and one of his formative experiences was traveling with his mother, brothers, and four other children from war-torn Berlin to West Germany when he was four years old. That’s when he discovered how to endure hardship. The family’s circumstances are still difficult; they lost their Berlin property, and money is still in short supply. Heinz Hermann Thiele, however, exhibits his tenacity from a young age.
His primary focus is on athletic development, and he eventually clocks a time of 10.8 seconds for the 100-meter sprint. At the age of 28, he joins Knorr-Bremse as a patent department clerk after completing his legal studies. His blood already runs with a passion for technology.
Three years later, he is appointed Head of Legal and Patents; in 1975, he is in charge of the Commercial Vehicle Brakes section; and starting in 1979, he is in charge of all sales-related activities. He is made Chairman of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG in 1984.
As a patent attorney, Thiele started working for Knorr-Bremse in 1969. In 1985, he was admitted to the company’s executive board. When Georg Knorr’s grandson decided to sell his shares that year and the business were in danger of going bankrupt, Thiele was hired to locate a buyer.
He was informed by Deutsche Bank that the bank would serve as a guarantor if he decided to purchase it himself. Later, he acquired the entire company after purchasing the majority interest. In a famous interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he revealed that he had not even paid off his home’s mortgage when he bought out the business.
He discussed how he had defied the advice of a management consulting firm, which had suggested that the business abandon industrial brakes and focus instead on industrial pneumatics. Later, he led the company’s transformation into a market leader in brakes for large trucks and railroads.
Thiele started structural adjustments after taking over as the company’s CEO in 1987 and honed the group’s attention to braking technology. In 2007, he was admitted to the company’s supervisory board. The company was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2018, in what was regarded as the second-largest IPO in the nation that year. The public selling brought in $3.6 billion (3 billion euros) for him, his family, and other shareholders.
In 2020, following a management crisis at the company, he rejoined the supervisory board as deputy chairman after retiring from all operational duties in the company in 2016. Later in his career, Thiele joined Lufthansa as an activist investor and expressed his displeasure with the government’s strategy to save the airline.
As of June 2020, Thiele was the biggest stakeholder. In 2020, during the COVID-19 recession, Lufthansa accepted a government bailout, and Thiele increased his ownership of the firm from 10 to 15.5 per cent. He specifically objected to the government’s plan to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the airline in return for a 9 billion euro bailout that would guarantee its viability during the pandemic. German labour unions dubbed Thiele a “caveman capitalist,” whose manufacturing workers put in 42 hours per week while those in the rest of the industry put in 35.
He was regarded by the business community as the industry patriarch and magnate of the rail sector. In addition to his investment in Lufthansa, he also owned a 59 per cent share in Knorr-Bremse and half of the railroad equipment maker Vossloh AG. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he had a net worth of $20.2 billion, making him the fourth richest person in Germany. Among his charitable investments was Knorr-Bremse Global Care.
He supported the Technical University of Munich, the Bavarian State Opera, the Lenbachhaus Art Museum, and the Deutsches Museum Science and Technology Museum in Munich. He was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Living in Munich were Thiele and his wife, Nadia, who were parents to two kids. His son Henrik is the creator of an electric charging technology business, and his daughter Julia is on the Knorr-Bremse supervisory board. Heinz has a son named Henrik, and in 2015, it was anticipated that he would take over Knorr-Bremse.
He did not succeed, nonetheless, as a result of interpersonal conflicts and his own business interests. He is presently working for Definiens AG as the Director. Despite this, Heinz gave his children Henrik and Julia, his sister, the entirety of his business. Heinz is reputed to be a hard man, especially when it comes to his business and deeds.
People who have worked with him claim that it is quite challenging to be close to him, which is why he has had many employees leave his organization. One daughter, Julia Thiele Schurhoff, was born to Heinz. She is currently a member of the supervisory board of her father’s business, Knorr-Bremse, and she is 44 years old. She was added as a new supervisory board member in 2016. A 79-year-old Thiele passed away in Munich on February 23, 2021, unexpectedly.
Heinz Hermann Thiele Controversies
According to ManagerMagazin, Heinz Hermann Thiele’s heirs may have to pay more than 5 billion euros ($6 billion) in inheritance taxes to the German government, which would be a record-breaking sum. The magazine stated on Thursday, citing unnamed persons close to the family, that when Thiele unexpectedly passed away in February, his assets were not yet incorporated into a foundation, which was intended to lower tax risks.
When he passed away at the age of 79, Thiele had established a manufacturing empire that included a 59 per cent ownership position in the manufacturers of braking systems Knorr-Bremse AG and half of the railroad equipment firm Vossloh AG. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his net worth was $20.2 billion at the time of his passing. According to those with knowledge of the situation, Thiele intended for his daughter Julia Thiele-Schuerhoff to inherit Knorr-Bremse, his most valuable asset.
In 2016, a year after her brother Henrik departed the company, she joined the board. In response to a query from Bloomberg News, Thiele-office Schuerhoff’s declined to comment on the report. According to the magazine, the family has enough cash and won’t need to sell its holdings in Knorr-Bremse or Vossloh to cover the payment.
Thiele’s Last Major Project
Despite always upholding tradition, experience, and the lengthy history of the company, Thiele was always going forward, continuously on the search for new technology and methods to expand. He placed a high value on research and development, as shown by the massive development centre he built at the Munich location, which also served as a symbol of his dedication to Bavaria as a center for technology and to Germany.
In a similar vein, he had no illusions about the importance of digitization to the organization in the future. The fact that Jan Mrosik, a renowned expert in digitization, joined the team as Chairman of the Executive Board at the start of 2021 is therefore undoubtedly no coincidence.
The whole Executive Board has vowed to honour Heinz Hermann Thiele’s legacy and continue to lead the company in his spirit. In the same way that Heinz Hermann Thiele did every day by declaring, “I am an entrepreneur and will be an entrepreneur until my last breath,” many employees also do this on a daily basis, giving their all to the projects that will form the future of Knorr-Bremse.
Heinz Hermann Thiele Net Worth
Heinz Hermann Thiele had a net worth of about $20.2 billion at the time of death. Even though Henrik, his son, does not work for the company, he is still a significant shareholder and has financial stakes in it. Heinz was born into poverty and had a modest upbringing, yet he overcame these obstacles to become one of the richest persons in his country and a self-made millionaire.
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How much was the net worth of Heinz Hermann Thiele?
$20.2 Billion ( as of death)
Who was Heinz Hermann Thiele’s wife?
What was Heinz Hermann Thiele’s age?
79 years (at the time of death)
What was the name of the Heinz Hermann Thiele firm?