Grand celebration in Heidenheim: honoring Voith’s milestones and looking with optimism to the future
After 258 local and international family and employee events with up to 65,000 guests, the 150th anniversary reached a climax with the grand celebration in Heidenheim.
“Welcome to the Next 150 Years” was the motto of the gathering, where some 400 international guests celebrated Voith’s 150th anniversary in a magnificent setting at Heidenheim’s convention center. Customers, partners, shareholders, the entire Voith Board of Management, guests from German federal and state politics and representatives from the business world all came together on this evening to honor the company’s past achievements and to take a look ahead at the next 150 years.
One of the special moments at the grand celebration was the presentation of the check for the donation to Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) Heidenheim. To mark the company’s 150th anniversary, Voith GmbH donated 12 million euros for a planned extension to DHBW in Heidenheim. In taking this step, Voith demonstrated its commitment to the future and to social responsibility, which the company embraces in Heidenheim and Baden-Württemberg more generally. The city of Heidenheim has guaranteed a further 8 million euros provided by local companies and institutions. “In our anniversary year, we are consciously setting our sights ahead on the technologies and requirements of the digital age. Education is key to innovative power. That is why we are pleased that we can live up to our role as a promoter of knowledge, education and innovation by supporting the university in Heidenheim, and thereby underscore our close relationship with the town, which is home to our headquarters,” said Dr. Hubert Lienhard, President & CEO of Voith GmbH.
The event was moderated by TV news anchorwoman Linda Zervakis, who skillfully guided the evening’s program. Musical entertainment was provided by a quartet from Cappella Aquileia and singers from the Heidenheim Opera Festival. The new Voith film set the mood for the grand celebration right at the outset. Guests of honor included German Federal Finance Minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble and Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann. Together with Voith, Supervisory Board Chairman Prof. Dr. Keitel and approximately 30 shareholders of the family-owned company, guests were treated to a wide array of speeches, musical interludes and video clips as part of the evening’s main highlights. The videos showcased historic milestones, in addition to impressions of employee events from across the world. “When a company turns 150 years old, has survived two world wars, periods of inflation and deflation, economic crises, turbulence on the stock market, (...) and views the digital world brimming with confidence, then I think it is fair to say: many things must be fundamentally right at that company,” said Dr. Hubert Lienhard. “Our milestone anniversary fills all Voithians with pride and respect for what we have achieved. Above all else, however, we look to the future with eager anticipation. Just as the generation of our founders played a key role in shaping the First Industrial Revolution, the current generation will now be a driving force behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Lienhard added.
Supervisory Board Chairman Prof. Hans Peter Keitel addressed the audience in his welcoming speech and reminded everyone present that without the resolute efforts and daring of the first generation to face up to international competition, it would not be possible to celebrate Voith’s anniversary the way they were that evening. German Federal Finance Minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble also acknowledged the importance of the family-owned company with a long-term focus. “Voith and its anniversary are a noteworthy example of our social market economy’s success story,” he said. “I am pleased to extend my sincere congratulations to you on your anniversary. You are a sixth-generation family-owned company that is so cutting-edge and innovative that it almost takes your breath away in this age of incredibly rapid change.”
Courage, entrepreneurial vision and class – these are attributes that nicely describe Voith’s exceptionally strong culture of innovation. “A focus on values such as sustainability and responsibility is everywhere you look in Heidenheim and at the global company Voith. It is tangible,” said Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann, summarizing Voith’s development. He added that the company is not only a shining example of the tradition of mechanical and plant engineering in Baden-Württemberg, but it also stands for mechanical engineering as an industry with a future that has taken on the challenges of digitization – high-tech at the highest level.
The conclusion of the gala proved to be a stirring tour de force, when the choir from the Heidenheim Opera Festival sang the Voith song. Images of the anniversary events from around the world were projected onto the stage, creating a powerful sequence that visibly moved the guests.