Change of Generation on 100th Birthday
Häfele: Ready for the second century – continuity and innovation
Nagold – 25 October 2022.
The international Häfele company group is preparing for the next century on the occasion of its 100th birthday with a groundbreaking change of personnel. After 20 years at the helm of the innovative specialist for furniture fittings and architectural hardware, electronic access control systems and LED light, Sibylle Thierer (CEO) is handing over the chair of the company management to 45 year old managing director Gregor Riekena.
The Häfele Group is therefore not only using its 100th birthday to look back on previous achievements, but also for restructuring under the motto of “Ready for the Future.”
“With this change at the top, we are confidently underlining our launch into the next Häfele century,” says the outgoing CEO, remaining true to her motto of: “Standing still is a step backwards” with the statement: “It’s not about doing everything like we did before, it’s about the further development of the industry.”
Sibylle Thierer will remain the chairperson of the Board of Directors. Her voice will therefore continue to be heard in the future decision-making of the company group. The generation change that is now taking place represents the implementation of a long-planned and well-prepared succession plan by the shareholder families, which will be completed by January 1, 2023. This will integrate seamlessly with other activities which are aimed at achieving a smooth transition into the next 100 years of Häfele. The change of the company’s legal status to a European company with the designation SE in the company name and the associated new management and control structure which took place in 2020 is just as relevant here as the company’s international realignment with the creation of regions.
Setting a forward-looking course
The next chapter in Häfele’s success story is going to be heralded by setting a forward-looking course: Good experience from the past is being built on with the appointment of Gregor Riekena as the fifth CEO in Häfele’s history. Hans Nock (1982-2003), the first CEO who was not a member of the Häfele or Thierer families, paved the way for the company to become a global player with foresight. Mr. Riekena is now becoming the second non-family CEO of the Häfele Group.
Business graduate Gregor Riekena joined Häfele as Head of Marketing in 2011, and has reinforced the management since 2015 as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). On his way to becoming the designated successor of Sibylle Thierer, he has become acquainted with the company intensively at both national and international level. Among other things, he was responsible for the brand strategy of the Häfele Group, and the development of a global e-commerce platform. Recently, the focus has been on moving into the next century with the “Corporate Strategy 2030” project. “Here we have worked together to lay the foundation for shaping the future. During this intensive cooperation phase, it became clear that the time had come to hand over responsibility to Gregor Riekena. He has the best qualifications for this task, and I have complete confidence in him,” says Sibylle Thierer.
“We are and will remain a family company”
Sibylle Thierer emphasizes that Häfele is well prepared for the upcoming changes with its traditionally successful combination of continuity and innovation.
Mrs. Thierer particularly sees continuity in the continued existence of the family company and the maintenance of the proverbial family spirit in the group, which has now expanded to more than 8000 employees and annual revenue of almost 2 billion Euros. However, the same also applies to the international character of the company, combined with a cosmopolitan attitude. The Thierer and Häfele shareholder families are the guarantors for this attitude. They live on two continents, in America and in Europe.
“Without fittings, furniture is nothing more than a pile of boards”
Whereas Häfele CEO Walther Thierer (1949-1982) successfully launched the Häfele logistics which is still highly praised in the industry today, created the “Der Große Häfele” (The Complete Häfele) catalog, which is now available worldwide in over 20 languages, and devoted himself to branding, the name of his daughter probably represents the biggest change in the history of hardware and fitting systems.
She has devoted her heart and soul to furniture fittings, the metal components which had long since been regarded as purely technical accessories in the furniture business, and plucked them out of obscurity. Sibylle Thierer realized that hardware and fitting systems are the real key to emotionalizing and individualizing furniture and fittings. Everybody immediately understood the significance of the slogan “Without fittings, furniture is nothing more than a pile of boards,” which she created in 2007. At a time when the functionality of furniture and furnishings was becoming increasingly important, this slogan elevated furniture fittings from their shadowy existence to the main focus of interest for planners, designers and furniture makers.
This was followed by the discovery of the outstanding importance of light in furniture and rooms, which gave Häfele a completely new business area with Loox and Nimbus, and which continues to inspire the industry from carpenters to interior designers and architects. In the Thierer era, Häfele has also set itself the task of digitally networking all of these options, and equips hotel chains all over the world with its Dialock electronic access control system, for example.
“Everything I have done has always been about making living spaces more liveable for people in a contemporary way,” says Sibylle Thierer. But this is only possible by taking a holistic look at furniture and furnishings. This was the only way for Häfele to develop from a hardware dealer and manufacturer into a specialist and consultant that is in demand all over the world for furnishing all kinds of rooms, under the management of Sibylle Thierer.
The increase in annual revenue from a good EUR 500 million to just less than EUR 2 billion within 20 years shows that Häfele is on the right track. And because the Häfele family always looks to the future with courage and optimism, it has already set its sights on the third billion.