Promoting success The advisory committee

The advisory committee of the German Entrepreneur Award was established in February 2006 with the aim of strongly promoting a culture of enterprise in Germany.

25 well-known German business personalities want to give young entrepreneurs the best possible chances to succeed. They offer their expertise to the nominees and award winners as part of a 2 year sponsorship programme.

Honorary member Prof. Dr. Reinhold Würth

Honorary member Prof. Dr. Reinhold Würth

Chairman of the supervisory board of the Würth Group Adolf Würth had been working in the field for 20 years before founding a firm that sold screws, nuts and bolts wholesale in 1945. Reinhold Würth joined his father's wholesale company as its very first apprentice in 1949. Following his father's early death in 1954 he took over management at the age of just 19. Würth turned a two-man regional operation into a flourishing global trading company. Today the Würth Group employs more than 70,000 people in over 370 in 83 countries around the globe.

Honorary member Prof. Klaus Fischer

Honorary member Prof. Klaus Fischer

Chairman of the management board of fischerwerke GmbH & Co. KG From a Swabian workshop business to an internationally active SME aptly describes the development of the fischer company since it was established in 1948. fischerwerke GmbH & Co. KG is a global company producing fixing systems, interior automotive fittings and construction sets and toys. Klaus Fischer joined fischerwerke in 1975, and took over management in the second generation in 1980. Under Fischer the company has expanded globally and now operates 42 subsidiaries in 31 countries.

Prof. Götz W. Werner

Prof. Götz W. Werner

Founder and member of the advisory board of dm-drogerie markt GmbH + Co. KG Götz Werner, the son of chemists from Heidelberg, cut his business teeth working for several trading companies before ending up at Drogerie Idro, a chemists shop in Karlsruhe. When his idea to introduce the discounter principle with low prices and self service was opposed by his superiors, he decided to go it alone and opened his first DM drugstore in 1973.
Other branches followed in rapid succession in Germany, Austria and then central and southern Europe. After 35 years as chairman of DM he switched to the supervisory board. Today DM has 3,350 drugstores in 12 European countries and employs more than 56,500 people.

Prof. Dr. Martin Viessmann

Prof. Dr. Martin Viessmann

CEO of Viessmann Werke GmbH & Co. KG The Viessmann Group was established in 1917 and is one of the leading international manufacturers of heating, industrial and refrigeration systems. Viessmann's comprehensive range offers individual solutions and efficient systems for all application areas and all energy sources. In 1979 Martin Viessmann joined the family-run company as a graduate. In 1984 he became a member of the executive board and in 1989 managing director of the Viessmann Group. Viessmann has a strong international outlook - with 22 production companies in 11 countries, distribution companies and representative offices in 74 countries and a total of 120 sales offices worldwide.

Gerd Strehle

Gerd Strehle

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Strenesse AG The fashion house Strenesse is one of Germany's leading premium brands and sells its collections around the world, for example in Italy, Japan and the USA. In 1967 Gerd Strehle joined the family-run company which was founded in 1949 and became executive director at the end of the sixties. Gabriele Strehle joined the company as a young designer in 1973 and as later Head of Creative Design and wife of Gerd Strehle established the company firmly as a designer label in the premium segment. Since 2006 Strenesse Men has been the official outfitter of the German national football team. 

Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser

Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser

Member of the Supervisory Board of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG The company was founded by the electrical engineer Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser in 1945. Sennheiser develops and produces headphones, microphones and integrated systems and also sponsors high end events and concerts. Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser, son of the founder Fritz Sennheiser, was managing director for many years and today is member of the supervisory board of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG. His two sons, Andreas and Daniel, now head up the company. Today Sennheiser has more than 2,700 employees in Germany, Ireland and USA.

Dr. Folkart Schweizer

Dr. Folkart Schweizer

General Partner of Schweizer Group KG Louis Schweizer established the company in 1867, initially as a leather factory. The opening of a metal processing plant in 1969 heralded a new era for the company. In the same year Dr. Folkart Schweizer was the fourth generation to join and head Louis Schweizer KG. On his 60th birthday in 2000 he retired from active business. Today the Schweizer Group is a leading provider of cutting-edge die-casting solutions with over 1,000 employees in Germany and around the world. 

Rosely Schweizer

Rosely Schweizer

Chair of the Advisory Board of Henkell & Soehnlein Sektkellereien KG In 1832 Adam Henkell established a wine merchants in Mainz selling French wines. Today Henkell has subsidiaries in 20 countries and exports to more than 100 countries worldwide. In 1986 Otto Henkel sold the winery to the entrepreneur Rudolf-August Oetker. In 1987 former competitors Henkell & Co. and Söhnlein Rheingold KG merged to form Henkell & Söhnlein Sektkellereien. After studying economics in Innsbruck, Rudolf-August Oetker's daughter Rosely Schweizer went on to become personally liable shareholder and chair of Henkell & Söhnlein.

Annette Roeckl

Annette Roeckl

Head of Roeckl Handschuhe & Accessoires GmbH & Co. KG Roeckl of Munich has been a leading brand for luxury gloves and premium accessories since 1839. Annette Roeckl didn't slip into the role of entrepreneur until later in life, and up to the age of 20 refused to wear gloves on principle. In 1992 after the birth of her son, Annette Roeckl started an apprenticeship in the family business then went on to work on different projects in different departments. Since 2003 she has been head of the family-run business now in the sixth generation. Roeckl has grown from an official supplier of the royal court of Bavaria to a market leader in Europe with 23 of its own dedicated retail shops.

Alfred Theodor Ritter

Alfred Theodor Ritter

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG Alfred Eugen Ritter and his wife Clara founded the chocolate and confectionary factory in Bad-Cannstatt, Stuttgart in 1912. In 1978 the company passed on to the third generation of the family: Alfred Theodor Ritter and his sister Marli Hoppe-Ritter. In 1985 Alfred Theodor Ritter took over as chairman of the advisory board and at the end of 2005 became the Chairman of the company. Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG is known for its high quality chocolate and ingredients and iconic square packaging. The company is steadily advancing its sustainability agenda on core commodities in the supply chain.

Dr. Michael Otto

Dr. Michael Otto

Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Otto Group In 1949 at the age of 40 Werner Otto founded Werner Otto Versandhandel, a mail order company. With an initial stock of just 28 pairs of shoes, Otto was the first mail order company to introduce payment by invoice. His son, Michael Otto, joined the executive board in 1971. From 1981 to October 2007 he served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the Otto Group. Under his leadership the company has evolved into the largest globally active retail and retail-related services group. Otto is present with 123 major companies in more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and America. They offer their products via three distribution channels: e-commerce, catalogues and over-the-counter retail (OTC). The Otto Group the largest online retailer of fashion and lifestyle products for end consumers worldwide.

Friedrich von Metzler

Friedrich von Metzler

Liable Partner at B. Metzler seel. Sohn & Co. Holding AG Friedrich von Metzler joined Bankhaus B. Metzler seel. Sohn & Co in 1969 after spending years gaining experience in national and international banking and finance. In 1971 he became Managing Director. In 1986 Bankhaus Metzler was transformed into a Commercial Partnership Limited by Shares. Established in 1674, the banking house has been under the unbroken control of the Metzler family for eleven generations. For more than 30 years the private banker has been committed to strengthening Germany as a financial centre and was instrumental in the creation of Deutsche Börse AG.

Dr.-Ing. h.c. Roland Mack

Dr.-Ing. h.c. Roland Mack

Owner of Europa-Park GmbH & Co. Mack KG The history of the Mack family company goes back to 1780. In those days they built post coaches then later circus wagons. As circus families were becoming fewer and far between, in 1920 they started building carousels and roller coasters. In 1975, inspired by huge amusement parks they had seen in the USA, Roland Mack and his father Franz founded Europa Park. Germany's biggest and most popular theme park offers . The popular theme park offers attractions, shows and events, shops, restaurants, hotels and much more. Until November 2012 Herr Mack was President of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, IAAPA.

Michael Lindner

Michael Lindner

CEO of Börlind Gesellschaft für kosmetische Erzeugnisse mbH As early as the 1950s beauty therapist Annemarie Lindner was using natural ingredients successfully for her own skin problems. On January 1 1959 with her husband Hermann Börner she founded Börlind GmbH. The company name derives from their last names: Börner and Lindner. In 1978 Annemarie handed over the company reins to her son Michael Lindner. Since 1996 Michael Lindner has been sole director. Today the company still produces natural skin care products under the name Annemarie Börlind.

Prof. Dr. Berthold Leibinger

Prof. Dr. Berthold Leibinger

Shareholder at TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG The mechanical workshop was founded by Christian Trumpf with two patents in 1923. Today Trumpf has evolved into a leading global company offering solutions in the machine tool, laser and electronics sectors. As head of engineering Berthold Leibinger developed the first contour nibbling machine with numerical control, initially against the will of the then owner. The patented machine went on to become a bestseller and other inventions followed. Leibinger's more than 100 patents were rewarded with company shares. Today Trumpf is owned entirely by his family.

Dr. Florian Langenscheidt

Dr. Florian Langenscheidt

Partner of the Langenscheidt publishing house and speaker of the advisory committee Langenscheidt Verlag is an established publishing house specialising in language resource literature. Langenscheidt products span from print dictionaries and language courses to a wide range of high quality content in digital formats. Gustav Langenscheidt created an innovative phonetic system in 1856, thus laying the foundations for future success. In 1988 Florian Langenscheidt became a board member at the Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG. Today he sits on the board of numerous companies, including Langenscheidt-Verlagsgruppe.

Dr. Maximilian Hugendubel

Dr. Maximilian Hugendubel

Member of the management at H. Hugendubel GmbH & Co. KG The fifth-generation family-run company was founded in 1893 on Munich's Salvator Square. The breakthrough came in 1979 when Hugendubel effectively changed how the bookselling industry worked. With escalators, comfy reading chairs and shelves full of readily available books, Hugendubel was the first book superstore in Germany (3,600 m2) to answer to the needs of its customers. In 2003 Maximilian Hugendubel and his sister became responsible for the strategic direction of the family business. Today Hugendubel is Germany's biggest owner-operated bookselling company. 

Prof. Dr. Claus Hipp

Prof. Dr. Claus Hipp

Managing Director of HiPP GmbH & Co. Vertrieb KG In 1963 Claus Hipp joined the baby food firm founded by his father in 1932, taking over the management of the family company in 1967. HiPP is an independent company and is the biggest processor of organically grown raw material worldwide. In 1956 Georg Hipp developed an industrial manufacturing process for baby food in jars. The first raw materials for HiPP products were grown on ecologically farmed fields and the family farm itself was converted to organic production. The organic pioneer used to travel from farm to farm to win the farmers over to his vision. Today HiPP works with a network of over 6,000 contract farmers.

Dr.-Ing. E. h. Martin Herrenknecht

Dr.-Ing. E. h. Martin Herrenknecht

Chairman of the Board of Management, Herrenknecht AG Herrenknecht is a family company and global market leader producing mechanised tunneling systems. Martin Herrenknecht is the founder, namesake, chairman of and driving force behind Herrenknecht AG. After graduating, the engineer kicked off his career as a design engineer in Switzerland. This was followed by a number of positions as project and design engineering manager in Canada, Germany and Switzerland. In 1975 he founded the Martin Herrenknecht Engineering Service Company, then in 1977 the limited company Herrenknecht GmbH, which became a joint stock company in 1998. 

Dr. Jürgen Heraeus

Dr. Jürgen Heraeus

Chairman Supervisory Board, Heraeus Holding GmbH Heraeus, the technology group headquartered in Hanau, is a leading family-owned company established in 1851. Jürgen Heraeus worked for a number of Heraeus subsidiaries before his appointment to the Board of Management of WC Heraeus GmbH in 1970. In 1983 he became CEO of Heraeus Holding GmbH, by now in its fourth generation. The global group of companies is organised into five core activities: precious metals, sensors, dental and medical products, quartz glass and speciality lamps. With around 12,500 employees worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries in 38 countries Hereaus holds a leading position in its global markets.

Wolfgang Grupp

Wolfgang Grupp

CEO and owner of Trigema GmbH & Co. KG Trigema was established in 1919 in Burladingen and is Germany's largest manufacturer of sportswear and casual fashion. Wolfgang Grupp joined his grandfather's firm Mayer KG in 1969 after graduating in Business Administration. He started to focus on t-shirts and tennis wear under the brand name TRIGEMA and assumed sole management in 1972 in the third generation. The entire production process from yarn to end product is still all done in-house.

Günther Fielmann

Günther Fielmann

CEO of Fielmann AG Günther Fielmann opened his first optometry business in 1972 in Cuxhaven. Fielmann spotted a gap in the market for health service spectacles, which were unpopular due to lack of choice. As producer, wholesaler and retailer Fielmann covers the entire value chain of the eyewear industry. More than 17,000 people are employed in branches in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy and Poland.

Heinrich-Otto Deichmann

Heinrich-Otto Deichmann

Chairman of the board of directors and of the executive directors at Deichmann- Schuhe GmbH & Co. KG It all began in 1913 when Heinrich Deichmann opened a cobbler's shop in the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. Two generations and almost a hundred years down the line the company has evolved into a European market leader. Europe's largest footwear retailer is a third generation family-run firm. Heinrich-Otto Deichmann joined the firm in 1989 and took charge of operative management in 1999, working to cement the market position in Germany as well as drive international expansion. Meanwhile, Deichmann is present in 24 countries with over 3,600 stores and around 36,150 employees.

Prof. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Georg Braun

Prof. Dr. h.c. Ludwig Georg Braun

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of B. Braun Melsungen AG In 1839 Julius Wilhelm Braun bought the Rosen Pharmacy in Melsungen, North Hessen . The challenges of today have changed since the early 19th century. Now as then the Braun family have pushed the boundaries in medical therapy. Ludwig Georg Braun joined the family business in 1972. Through continuous innovation and international expansion he has turned the family business into one of the world's leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions. Within six generations the family business has become a global powerhouse, employing around 56,000 people on every continent. 

Willy Bogner

Willy Bogner

Managing Director of Willy Bogner GmbH & Co. KGaA Since 1932 Bogner has combined sporting functionality with contemporary design and modern zeitgeist. It all started at a small production site in a backyard in Munich. The Munich-based family business invented sports fashions and is one of the most successful in the world today. Willy Bogner Jr. joined the family business in 1972 and built it into a leading international lifestyle brand in ski fashion and sportswear. Willy Bogner has also made his mark as an athlete and film maker. He was several times champion in slalom and member of the German Olympic team in 1960 and 1964.