25-Oct-2015 Düsseldorf / Germany
Centenary of Konrad Henkel's birth
Dr. Konrad Henkel, grandson of the company's founder, was born 100 years ago today on October 25. He served the company for more than 50 years and made a vital contribution to its development – from 1961 to 1980 as Chairman of the Management Board, and from 1980 to 1990 as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and of the Shareholders' Committee. Subsequently, Konrad Henkel maintained close links with the company as Honorary Chairman of the Henkel Group up until his death in 1999.
With his scientific background in chemistry, he joined the Product Development department of Henkel & Cie GmbH in 1948 and was appointed Managing Partner and Member of the Management Board in 1956. Following the death of his brother Dr. Jost Henkel, Konrad Henkel took over as Chairman of the Management Board in 1961.
Modernization and internationalization
"Konrad Henkel made important strategic decisions that still shape our company today," says Dr. Simone Bagel-Trah, Chairman of Henkel’s Supervisory Board and Shareholders' Committee. "He has made Henkel more modern and international, and has above all contributed to the structural transformation of this family business – not only through Henkel’s public listing at the stock exchange in 1985, but also by appointing for the first time a head of the company who was not a member of the family." In 1980, Konrad Henkel transferred Chairmanship of the Management Board to Prof. Dr. Dr. Helmut Sihler, the first Chief Executive in the history of the company not to come from the Henkel family.
Konrad Henkel introduced more modern and innovative approaches to marketing and expanded Henkel’s international scope. At the same time as establishing a leading position in Europe, the company initiated further business activities in Japan, Latin America and the US. In order to position Henkel successfully for the challenges of an international future, he made fundamental organizational changes. In 1969, the company was reorganized into divisions, functions and regions with a Central Board of Management. A further milestone was Henkel’s initial public offering in 1985. The issue of preferred shares enabled investors from outside the family to become shareholders in the company.
As a scientist and business manager, Konrad Henkel was early to recognize the importance of environmental and social responsibility. This included the development of environmentally friendly products and production processes as well as special responsibility towards the company's employees. "The Henkel spirit has developed over many decades. The company and family have always stood together and have seen and supported employees as part of the whole," wrote Konrad Henkel in 1995 in the company’s internal employee newspaper.
Konrad Henkel not only shaped the company, he was also personally engaged in a wide range of activities. He was an Honorary Freeman of the City of Düsseldorf and received Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1973, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Düsseldorf.
Konrad Henkel died in Düsseldorf on April 24, 1999 at the age of 83.