Endress + Hauser Founder Dies

Jan. 12, 2009

Dr Georg H. Endress, the founder of measurement and automation solutions giant Endress + Hauser, died on December 14, following a brief illness in Arlesheim, Switzerland.

Endress is probably best known for his establishment of the Endress + Hauser Group. In partnership with Ludwig Hauser, he built the company from its roots as a small distributor of electronic measuring devices to a global firm with more than 8,300 employees and annual net sales of more than € 1.1 billion.

Endress’ had a simple explanation for his success. “I wanted to prove to myself, my family and the world that I could carry an idea through to success,” he said, adding,  “When we were expecting our third child, my wife challenged me to do something—so I became an entrepreneur.”

Endress was born in Freiburg, Germany, on January 9, 1924. His father was the director of a factory there. Seven years later the family moved to Zagreb, Croatia, where Endress began school. He completed further schooling in Basel, Switzerland. He took an apprenticeship as a mechanic and finally studied engineering in Zurich. After working for several companies in Switzerland, Endress moved to England, where he worked at a company that manufactured a new type of electronic level measurement device.

In 1953. together with the experienced banker Ludwig Hauser, Endress  founded L Hauser KG. Based in the German town of Lörrach, the new company was a distributor of the same new electronic level measurement devices. 1956 saw the launch of the company’s first own measurement devices.

Endress recognized the potential for growth outside Europe at an early stage. In 1970, he founded subsidiaries in the U.S. and Japan, quickly followed by the move into China in the 1980s.

The company has been solely owned by the Endress family since Hauser’s death in 1975.

With his charisma and eloquence, he was adept at instilling enthusiasm for his vision in others. His workers and associates knew him as a boss who was reliable, loyal, hard when necessary, but always fair. Endress was always remained modest and approachable at all times. “Popularity is not my thing,” he once said, “I much prefer it when someone tells me that I have a good company and excellent employees, than when someone pats me on the shoulder and tells me I’m great.”

Dr. Endress saw his business success as an obligation to take on social responsibilities. One concern was his encouragement of cooperation in the German-French-Swiss region of the Upper Rhine, in which half of all the employees of the company still work today. Endress initiated the tri-national apprenticeship and engineers’ training, as well as the BioValley Initiative, a network in the field of life science. He was active in the Wirtschaftsverband Industrieller Unternehmen Badens (WVIB), an economic association of industrial businesses, and the Regio-Gesellschaft Schwarzwald–Oberrhein, an organization devoted to the development of cooperative networks in the various fields such as tourism, economic cooperation prison, ecology, transport, culture, science transfer. Both of these associations nominated him as Honorary President.

Endress was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1st Class (Federal Service Cross) in 1984. In 1990 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Basel. In 1994 he became Honorary Senator of the University of Freiburg and holder of the medal for services to the Land Baden-Württemberg.

In 2000, he received French insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for his contribution to international understanding and his services to the economic development of Alsace. He is also an Honorary Citizen of the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, and the German municipality of Maulburg.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Endress-Vogt since 1946 and eight children and numerous grandchildren. Four sons and one daughter are actively employed in the company today. The children and their families, who each hold 12% of the shares in the Group, will carry on Endress’ work.