Years of the Handtmann Group – a reason for joy and celebration together. Over the past weekend, the festival grounds at Biberacher Gigelberg were transformed into the "Handtmann Mountain," complete with a grand tent and a Magic Sky in the outdoor area. The owning family of the Handtmann Group invited representatives from politics and business, banks and schools, executives, and companions to a gala evening on Friday. As a token of gratitude to the workforce, a festival for Handtmann employees and their partners was also held there on Saturday. "Every day, our employees represent the positive image of Handtmann in their dealings with customers and partners. Every day, they develop innovations, strategies, and processes so that we can stay one step ahead tomorrow. And every day, many employees go one step further than they need to. We see that, and we want to preserve it," emphasized Valentin Ulrich, Managing Director of Albert Handtmann Holding GmbH & Co. KG. "With this celebration, we want to express our gratitude to our employees and put them in the spotlight."
Minister President Winfried Kretschmann attends the gala evening.
Baden-Württemberg's Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, one of the honorary guests and speakers at the gala evening, spoke of an extraordinary entrepreneurial achievement. In his speech, he acknowledged Handtmann's history of development. "At the time of the German Empire, you began as what is now referred to as a start-up." Over the many decades, it repeatedly faced existential threats during times of war and crisis. However, it is enormously impressive how the respective company leaders had decisively addressed the situation with creativity, persistence, and effort. The global market leader, with around 4,300 employees and an annual turnover of one billion euros, is a "source of prosperity and an economic factor in our country." Through its participation in various clusters and expert committees, the company group is also an important partner of the state government.
"The sound of successful transformation"
The Minister President continued, "The noise of the machines in Handtmann's workshops is the sound of successful transformation." Handtmann now operates in various business fields, including the automotive supply industry, food and beverage industry, power electronics, and technical plastics. "Economic transformation also includes a human resilience, which has to do with Handtmann's strong roots in Upper Swabia," said the Minister President in this context. He referred to Thomas Handtmann as a resilient entrepreneurial personality. "Rest assured that the state government is aware that the prosperity and well-being of our state are based on such entrepreneurial spirit," added the Minister. Addressing the future CEOs, Markus Handtmann and Valentin Ulrich, he said, "You are inheriting a well-established company. One must want and create miracles!"
Global player with local roots
Biberach County Executive Mario Glaser also expressed his praise in his festive address. "Over the past 150 years, Handtmann has become a true flagship for the Biberach region, Upper Swabia, and beyond. The secret of its success undoubtedly lies in outstanding corporate leadership, innovation, and the tireless dedication of its employees."
Looking at Handtmann's history, Biberach's Lord Mayor Norbert Zeidler observed in his laudation, "The success story of the Handtmann Group exemplifies the development of the small, strong city of Biberach in Upper Swabia." When he introduces external guests and visitors to Biberach's world-class companies, Handtmann always receives the label "the most original Biberach-based company" from him. Handtmann always stands for responsible, long-term, and societal entrepreneurship.
New Honorary Citizen of Biberach, Thomas Handtmann, is the "prime example of an Upper Swabian entrepreneur with a tremendous love for his homeland."
"The balance sheet from 25 years of Thomas Handtmann at the helm is impressive." He quadrupled the turnover during that time, nearly tripled the number of employees, recorded an investment peak of 125 million euros in 2020, and consistently pursued internationalization. "An achievement that cannot be valued highly enough." The 70-year-old Thomas Handtmann has always been seen as someone for whom the family business, social responsibility, and then his personal interests come first. The Mayor referred to Thomas Handtmann as a prime example of an Upper Swabian entrepreneur with a huge heart for his homeland. Despite all the pressure for growth, he never forgot that Handtmann's heart beats above all in Biberach. This is also evident in his diverse voluntary commitment to his hometown. "You have never put yourself even remotely in the foreground. You are simply a kind-hearted person." In gratitude and recognition of his immense contributions to the city of Biberach and his life's work, the Mayor concluded by bestowing upon him the title and rights of an honorary citizen.
To ensure that the family-owned conglomerate continues to thrive, Thomas Handtmann explained in his speech that the owning family had made preparations in advance. After 40 years in the company, including 25 years at the helm, he handed over the overall responsibility for the family-owned conglomerate to his son Markus and his nephew Valentin Ulrich as part of the festivities, symbolically passing them a key. "You are well-educated, have sufficient experience. You have been working in your current and future positions for six months now. Divide the work according to your passion and talent. All shareholders and I support you. And among the employees of the companies, you are highly regarded. I wish you all the best."
"To ensure that the family-owned conglomerate continues on its path to success, the owning family made timely preparations," explained Thomas Handtmann in his speech. After 40 years with the company, including 25 years at the helm, he handed over the overall responsibility for the family-owned conglomerate to his son Markus and his nephew Valentin Ulrich as part of the festivities, symbolically passing them a key. "You are well-educated, have ample experience. For the past six months, you have been working in your current and future positions. Divide the work according to your passion and talent. All shareholders and I support you. And among the employees of the companies, you are highly regarded. I wish you all the best."
Human, innovative, sustainable, independent
"First, we are grateful to our predecessors and employees who have built everything. We are also grateful to our family, especially our spouses, who support us," Markus Handtmann shared his feelings in an interview following the key handover. Valentin Ulrich added, "We look forward to the whole endeavor and want to seize the unique opportunity to shape and develop not only our corporate group and technologies in our industries but also coexistence in the region and society. The human being should always be at the center of what we do. Every day." Both were aware of their responsibilities early on. "We grew up in Biberach and with the company," said Markus Handtmann. They were well-prepared for a smooth transition during the generational change. "The process was initiated early on, so we had time to develop, even though the learning curve was always steep," explained Valentin Ulrich. According to Markus Handtmann, this was not to be taken for granted. "We received support from all sides. We are grateful for that. In my father, we also have a predecessor who gives us space and can let go when necessary."
In the future, nothing will remain as it was. "But we must preserve our virtues, our DNA - even in the face of adversity and turbulent times," said Valentin Ulrich. "The Handtmann family business should be and remain one thing: human, innovative, sustainable, and independent." "And for that, we need you," Markus Handtmann appealed to the executives and employees. "Together, we want to embark on the next 150 years."
Unity is a key factor in success – Celebration for all employees
"We all have a passion for Handtmann," emphasized Joachim Graf, Chairman of the Works Council, in his speech at the celebration for the employees the following day. Under the leadership of Thomas Handtmann, the company group had grown into a globally active technology conglomerate with around 4,300 employees in six business areas. "You, Mr. Handtmann, and all of you who contribute to the greater whole every day can be proud of this." All four previous generations of entrepreneurs had distinguished themselves with foresight, courage, and perseverance, even in difficult times. This certainly applied to the upcoming generation as well. "We all rely on you," the Chairman of the Works Council appealed to Markus Handtmann and Valentin Ulrich, wishing them a heartfelt "Good luck!" for the next 150 years of Handtmann.
On behalf of the entire management team, Harald Suchanka, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handtmann Filling and Portioning Systems Division, and Wolfgang Schmidt, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handtmann Light Metal Casting and System Technology Divisions, also expressed their joy about the occasion. "Today, we celebrate 150 years of Handtmann together. We celebrate 150 years of a family business, 150 years full of innovations, but also of challenges mastered. But above all, we celebrate one thing: 150 years of growth and success," said Wolfgang Schmidt. The business year 2022 was one of the most successful in the company's history, in which "the incredible milestone of one billion euros was reached." "How is such a success story possible?" Harald Suchanka asked.
This is primarily thanks to Thomas Handtmann. "For us as a young management team, what we particularly appreciate is your willingness to give us and the responsible bodies enough room for shaping decisions. You trust us – and your good instincts to make decisions instinctively." Wolfgang Schmidt continued,
"For entrepreneurial success, you need a good sense, a lot of skill, a willingness to take risks, and a touch of luck. But, above all, a family business needs one thing – which is by no means a given today: a succession."
It is a great stroke of luck that the strong family values of the Handtmann family have ensured that the company's leadership remains in family hands, and Markus Handtmann and Valentin Ulrich are taking on this great responsibility in the fifth generation. "We all thank you, dear Valentin and Markus, for leading the family business and thus the large international Handtmann family into the future. And we are convinced that together we will continue the success story. Because the foundation of a successful company is its employees. We look forward to a successful shared future," concluded Harald Suchanka.