Friedhelm Loh turns 75 – entrepreneur, encourager and visionary in the progress of digital transformation
He is driven by curiosity about new things: He is Honorary President of the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI), Honorary Professor of the State of Hesse, and has an Honorary Doctorate from the Technical University of Chemnitz. He is in demand on the European political stage when it comes to digitalisation issues and is driving trends and innovations in the marketplace. In addition, he is a passionate mover and shaker and the owner of a globally active family business with 11,600 employees, is socially committed in a variety of ways and a dedicated Christian. Friedhelm Loh – as an entrepreneur and a human being – is all these things. Today he turns 75; he is active in every field that one could (or could not) imagine.
Professor Friedhelm Loh has received the highest recognition for his success and commitment – from the top levels of business and politics and far beyond Germany's borders. Through his personal achievements, his top political honours and great entrepreneurial courage, he has nevertheless remained – as he says himself – a “simple worker” and above all: grateful. Although he sees himself as an entrepreneur, he combines a love of the region, an eye for people and – together with his wife Debora – shares responsibility for the weaker members of society.
The role models
Friedhelm Loh grew up with his two siblings in a family of founders. In 1946, as young people, his parents made courageous decisions in founding “Rudolf Loh GmbH Metallwarenfabrik”, and they worked hard to pursue their goals relentlessly. “They were role models for us children as they lived the Christian faith while taking on responsibility and acting as entrepreneurs. That left its mark on me,” he says, looking back on those times.
New technologies have always fascinated him – and they still do: “I am attracted by opportunities to make what is good today even better tomorrow,” Friedhelm Loh says. He sees these opportunities in hardware developments for electrical engineering such as enclosure systems, software for electrical engineering in plant engineering, and in edge and cloud computing, such as Gaia-X, the European initiative for data sovereignty, which he co-founded. Friedhelm Loh took over the company in 1974 when it had around 200 employees. Today, 11,600 people working worldwide in the Friedhelm Loh Group in the Rittal, Eplan, Cideon, German Edge Cloud, LKH and Stahlo companies are helping him act as a driver in the industry. “We were able to receive the Diesel Medal, the ‘inventors Oscar’.”
Professor Loh is a pioneer in digitisation and is aware of the enormous challenges this involves. “Innovating is back-breaking work – we experienced this when we established our Industry 4.0 plant in Haiger, where we have been manufacturing industrial enclosures since 2019.” That was because turnkey solutions for completely networked factories were not available off the shelf. “We dared to do it on our own and set up a production facility with artificial intelligence and data sovereignty along with German Edge Cloud, the Friedhelm Loh Group's latest subsidiary.” From beginning as a sheet metal working firm to becoming a digital company, that shows how we want to develop – today and in the future.
That fact that the Friedhelm Loh Group has reached its current position – with an annual turnover of €2.6 billion – is thanks to the management and all the employees: “They have done it. They follow unusual paths, face exceptional situations and are creative when it comes to innovations,” CEO adds.
For Friedhelm Loh, social responsibility is not just an empty phrase – it is an intrinsic value. Bearing and assuming responsibility is part of the company’s DNA and is actively lived by the owner, his wife, his family and his staff. The Rittal Foundation plays a key role when it comes to social commitment. This charitable organisation has been supporting social, educational and cultural projects since 2011. Regular donations to regional, non-profit institutions or international aid organisations – made jointly with the employees – show that each individual counts. The group has donated over €5 million to good causes in recent years. “We all share a responsibility for the community in which we live and work,” the entrepreneur says.
Unternehmer, Mutmacher und Visionär in der digitalen Transformation. Prof. Friedhelm Loh wird heute 75.