Billionaire wurth: “unseemly to go into appointment with open shirt”

"I think it would be unseemly to go to an appointment without a tie and with your shirt half open": Screw billionaire Wurth on decency and the younger generation

Reinhold Wurth built up the Wurth screw company to become the international market leader and is now one of the richest people in Germany.

When he was just 19 years old, his father died and Wurth already took over the entire responsibility for the company. At that time, he had two employees – in the meantime, he has more than 80.000.

In an interview with "Die Zeit", Wurth talks about his path to success, his view of the younger generations and what his entrepreneurial life could not fulfill for him.

Today, Reinhold Wurth is one of the richest people in Germany with a fortune of USD 20.6 billion. From 1958 onwards, he built up the Wurth trading company to become the international market leader in fastening and assembly technology and is still regarded today as the screw king of Germany. In an interview with "Die Zeit", Wurth talks about his path to success, his view of the coming generations and what his entrepreneurial life could not fulfill for him.

"To this day, I still feel the responsibility for more than 80.000 jobs."

Wurth has worked hard his entire life to successfully run the company. He left school early and never studied. At the age of 14, he started working as an apprentice for his father; at 16, Wurth was already traveling alone on sales trips all over Germany. About his time back then, the now 86-year-old says: "I was certainly not self-confident, I was modest." But many customers liked that, says Wurth. This is probably why he has received some orders. To this day, he says, he has maintained this attitude when doing business.

Wurth lost his father at the age of 19 and from then on bore the entire responsibility for the company. At the time, he had two employees. Although Wurth’s daughter Bettina, 60, took over as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Wurth Group in 2006. It was important to him that his children enter the company, says the entrepreneur in the "Zeit" interview. Nevertheless, Wurth is still active in the company today.

Billionaire wurth: "unseemly to go into appointment with open shirt"

"Younger generations have different starting conditions"

The entrepreneur takes a critical view of the generations that will come after him. He believes that with the FDP first-time voters, "hopefully a smart young generation of entrepreneurs" is coming to Germany. But he fears they might lack modesty: "Younger generations have different starting conditions, more opportunities to shape things, fewer limits. But this should not go to one’s head."Wurth himself tries not to lose his grip as an entrepreneur: "I talk to my employees at eye level, I walk through the warehouse, I lend a hand."Arrogance is the devil, says the company patriarch. There is only one formality that he still does not like to dispense with: "I attach great importance to wearing a tie to important appointments," says Wurth. For him it was a sign of decency. He thinks it is unseemly to go to an appointment without a tie and with his shirt half open, he says.

Despite his fulfilled entrepreneurial life, entrepreneur Wurth also regrets some things, he admits in the interview: "I regret that all the work has taken away the time I had for real friendships."

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