Dipl.-Ing. Herbert Kannegiesser passed away 41 years ago – he would have turned 100 these days.
He founded the Kannegiesser company in 1948 in the most modest of circumstances in a rented metalworking shop in Vlotho with 4 employees - as a refugee and former aircraft manufacturer he ended up in East Westphalia after the war, thanks to some family ties of his wife Irma's. This is also where his son Martin grew up. In the bitterly cold January of 1945 Irma and the then three-year-old had joined the trek to flee from Poznan via Dresden to her parents in bomb-gutted Bremen.
The first product, a shirt press that had been developed almost by happenstance, turned into a global success, which however crumbled after a tumultuous decade of prosperousness due to a shift in technology - the company was thrown into an existential crisis, and Herbert Kannegiesser fell seriously ill.
Still a very young man and just graduated from university, his son Martin joined his parents' enterprise, which was still rather small at that time, and restructured it with his mother's active support. Nowadays, Kannegiesser employs 1,400 staff directly, more than half of which at the Vlotho location. The organization is present in 51 countries, in 16 of which with its own companies. It is regarded global market leader in the field of industrial laundry technology with machines, logistics, and process technology.
In a brief vigil with the management team, representatives of the works council and a few old companions, Martin Kannegiesser commemorated the company founder and his entrepreneurial dynamism, his impressive charisma, and the pleasure he took in technology.
"We have to thank him for a company spirit that has prevented us from failing in plenty of crises and has kept the staff together. I hope we'll manage to maintain this spirit despite the growing size, internationality and increasing anonymity of the business," said Martin Kannegiesser, who, as the previous sole owner, recently transferred the company shares into a family foundation. "This is probably what our company founder had in mind."