Hermann Pfeifer would have been 90 years old this January.

On the 90th birthday of Hermann Pfeifer – in memory of an extraordinary enterpriser and citizen of Memmingen

Following the Second World War, Hermann Pfeifer turned a small handicrafts business into one of the region's largest industrial companies: PFEIFER Seil- und Hebetechnik, which today employs 1500 people worldwide. However, Hermann Pfeifer was not just an extraordinary enterpriser. He was also a committed citizen and politician, to whom the town of Memmingen owes not only numerous dialect poems and homeland books, but also one of its largest and most famous festivals: the Wallenstein Festival. Hermann Pfeifer, who died in 2000, would have been 90 years old on 7th January.

Hermann Pfeifer was the son and second child of Eduard and Katharina Pfeifer, née Hail. Katharina Hail, whose father ran a handicraft business for ropemaker's goods in Kalchstrasse in Memmingen, opposite the Salzstadel, brought this business with her into the marriage. Eduard Pfeifer, who had learned ropemaking as a second profession, died in 1950 at the age of just 62.

He followed in his father's footsteps at the age of 22

His son Hermann was just 22 years old at the time and was therefore not yet able to continue the business directly. Following training at the textile vocational school in Sorau, he had not yet had accumulated enough practical years as a journeyman ropemaker to be able to take the master's examination. He required a special permit in order to be able to acquire the title of master within one year - and he did so with a distinction. He was thus entitled from 1951 to run the business in his own name.

Creative, inspired and active

Among the German ropemakers of the time he was without any doubt one of the most creative, inspired and dynamic. Like hardly any other he succeeded on the one hand in serving the blossoming market for wire ropes with a wide and very qualified assortment of ropes and all kinds of end connections, and on the other in marketing an increasingly broad assortment of attachment devices, hoists and lifting devices", says the present-day company boss Gerhard Pfeifer, who took over the family-run company in the twelfth generation from his father.

Strategic growth

With ten branches in Germany at this time, PFEIFER Seil- und Hebetechnik had thus already become one of the largest dealers in the Professional Association of Ropes and Attachment Devices in Germany and Europe within Hermann Pfeifer's lifetime. Alongside with the takeover of several local companies as well as regionally important roperies and other businesses from similar branches of industry in Germany, the most important step that the enterpriser Hermann Pfeifer took from a strategic point of view was the takeover of Drahtseilerei Gustav Kocks GmbH in Mülheim a. d. Ruhr.

Basis for the internationalisation of the group

With the takeover of Drako and its subsidiaries, PFEIFER at the one hand acquired its first larger sales companies in foreign countries. On the other hand, Hermann Pfeifer increased the company's value creation depth with Drako as the technically leading German elevator rope manufacturer, at the same time establishing the basis for the internationalisation of the present-day group that has taken place since then.

Initiator of the Wallenstein Festival

However, Hermann Pfeifer was not just an extraordinary enterpriser. He got involved in the most diverse social and cultural areas. For instance, he was a versatile sportsman, a member of the parish council and the state synod of the protestant church in Bavaria, a lay judge, a commercial judge, a town councillor and a dialect and homeland poet, and at various times of his life he took on responsibility as chairman in various associations in his home town of Memmingen. He gave the town the Wallenstein festival, well known today beyond the town limits, as their initiator, spiritual director, driving force and organisational head. His multifaceted social dedication was recognised with a large number of honours and distinctions, including the seal of the town of Memmingen, the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) and the Bayerischer Verdienstorden (Bavarian Order of Merit).

Father and responsible citizen

Alongside all of these commitments he also started a family with Sieglinde Pfeifer, née Elger, which produced five children. "His wife, my mother and our present-day senior boss, was not only a loyal companion to him throughout the years of his versatile doings; with her own strong character, highly cultivated interest and genuine spirit she was also a calming influence and a great support to him at difficult moments in his life", Gerhard Pfeifer recalls. “On the occasion of his 90th birthday, I feel the need to remember my father Hermann Pfeifer as an extraordinary enterpriser, a creative spirit and an active and responsible citizen of his hometown of Memmingen.”

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