29. June 2017

Visionary technologist, pioneer, association president and strategist for success

On July 1st, 2017, Dietmar Harting celebrates his 50th anniversary.

It wasn’t an easy beginning: Wilhelm Harting had actually planned for his son to spend a fair bit of time in the USA on completing his studies. The idea was for the young business studies graduate to gain some experience before starting work. But everything changed on the sudden death of the company’s founder in 1962. Dietmar Harting joined his parents’ company on 1 July 1967 - right after graduating. Now 77 years old, he can look back after fifty years in the service of the company on an impressive life’s work as one of the most important entrepreneurs in the industry, the local region and beyond.

Born in Berlin and raised in Dankersen, he took the helm of the company - founded in 1945 - with his mother. At the end of his very first year, there was a difficult decision to be made - the purchase of an automatic lathe at a cost of 750,000 Marks - by a company that achieved sales of around 29 million Marks with 1,000 employees that year. Mother and son decided to make “the massive investment” (Harting) on their way home from the works Christmas party.

It paid off, and the powerful combination of technology and entrepreneurship underlying their strategy over the ensuing years saw the Technology Group make rapid progress: turnover went up by 50 percent within three years. With the adoption of an international outlook in 1979, expansion in Espelkamp and the diversification of its connector technology, HARTING was focusing on global markets and versatile applications and uses for its innovative products, solutions and customized hardware and software offering. “My father wrote in the family album for me, saying that quality was the most important requirement for success. Customers need to come back and not products. I’ve always stayed true to this - after all, it’s our name on it,” remembers Dietmar Harting, who headed the company with his wife Margrit from 1987.

Involvement on national and international committees

Having said that, Dietmar Harting hasn’t just been content to set the course within his own company. Since the1990s, he has been involved with national and international associations and committees, holding leading positions and successfully campaigning for regulation and standardisation making “a contribution to the success of European unity and the domestic market, which cannot be overestimated”, as the former EU Commissioner Günter Verheugen put it in 2010. Harting was President of the Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie (ZVEI) between 1998 and 2004, and headed the Deutsche Institut für Normung (DIN) for eight years - and the European standardisation organisations CENELEC and EXPRESS.

He became a member of the Council for Research, Technology and Innovation under Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Partner for Innovation initiative under his successors Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel. He occupied further high-ranking positions - such as BDI Vice President and Chairman of the Exhibitor Council and Deputy Chairman of Deutsche Messe AG. And the awards are equally numerous: Honorary President of the ZVEI, the Federal Order of Merit, First Class (with his wife Margrit), the Lower Saxony Order of Merit, the Erich Gutenberg Prize, the Trade Fair Gold Medal of Honour and an Honorary Doctorate from the Leibniz University of Hanover in 2010.

Identifying trends early on

But - for this passionate and irrepressibly curious engineer who sees trends early on, analyses opportunities, weighs up the risks carefully  and makes prudent decisions -  sustainability for manufacturing, energy and materials consumption is of equally high value. The vision introduced in 1996 required HARTING to “Shape the future with technology for people”. Dietmar Harting is in no doubt that innovative technology products and processes can help many people, making their work and daily lives easier. And the science and research behind technological progress are essential for securing and creating employment and the competitive edge and leading position of the German economy.

In spite of the company‘s global stance and his own cosmopolitan outlook, Dietmar Harting - who is mostly quite reserved - remains intimately connected to his local region and homeland. He played handball at school and tennis later in life, and now supports and promotes sports clubs like ATSV Espelkamp, Preußen Espelkamp and GWD Minden, and provided the finance for modernising the Albert Pürsten Stadium in Espelkamp.

Dietmar Harting and his wife Margrit were made Honorary Citizens of the City of Espelkamp in 2009. In his laudatory speech, Mayor Heinrich Vieker told how they had demonstrated exemplary commitment to the local region for decades - as supporters, trendsetters and patrons.

When he handed over Chairmanship of the Board to his son Philip in 2015 (daughter Maresa is Vice President Finance and Purchasing) to devote himself to “New Technology”, his record could not be more exemplary. In five decades, Dietmar Harting has shaped the company with a dynamic hand, transforming it into one of the world’s leading industrial connector providers, a global player, trend-setter and driver of Industry 4.0. And - with recent turnover at 586 million Euros - the third generation of the family is in very safe hands – and well on the way to making it one billion.

1967 – 2017

What was happening at HARTING......and in the outside world
1967
  • Dietmar Harting (28) joins family owned and managed company
  • the main warehouse in Hall 22 is destroyed in a massive fire
  • Germany mourns Konrad Adenauer, its first Chancellor
  • Prof. Christiaan Barnard does the world’s first successful heart transplant
1974
  • the production of circuit board connectors is at full pelt manufacture of jukeboxes ends
  • Germany beats Holland with goals from Paul Breitner and Gerd Müller, winning the World Cup for the second time
1979
  • the foundation of the subsidiary in France is the first major steps towards globalisation
  • construction of Plant 2 in the northern industrial zone
  • Mother Teresa awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace
  • the Socialists become the biggest group in the first EU Parliament direct election
1986
  • Development, production and sale of the Semtron outdoor electric vending machine
  • the Challenger space shuttle explodes shortly after take-off with seven astronauts on board
1987
  • Margrit Harting becomes the Managing Director
  • Matthias Rust lands his sports plane in middle of Moscow undetected by Soviet radar
1989
  • HARTING increases turnover by 22 % compared to previous year
  • the GDR opens its borders to the Federal Republic
1996
  • HARTING creates vision to define its business goals and identity
  • Dolly the sheep born in Scotland as as world’s first cloned mammal
1999
  • the Training and Presentation Center (SPC) is opened
  • Inauguration of the newly converted Reichstag in Berlin – the seat of Parliament
2001
  • Inauguration of the new distribution centre in Minden. It was designed by famous Swiss architect Mario Botta
  • Planes flown into the Twin Towers in New York. The world is shaken by the 9/11 terrorist attack
2006
  • HARTING wins the HERMES AWARD at HANNOVER MESSE – the most important international technology prize there is
  • The World Cup in Germany goes down in history as a sporting fairy tale
2015
  • Dietmar Harting hands over Chairmanship of the Board to son Philip – fourth family Member of the Board is daughter Maresa Harting-Hertz
  • “Refugees” is the “word of the year”in Germany
2016
  • Wins the HERMES Award again with MICA mini industrial computer
  • US President Barack Obama visits Hannover Messe and wows exhibitors and visitors - even on the HARTING stand
2017
  • HARTING has attended HANNOVER MESSE since it started in 1947 and celebrates alongside “70 Years of HANNOVER MESSE“
  • Construction of European Distribution Center (EDC) begins – at 40 million Euros, the biggest investment in the company’s history
  • Angela Merkel wins her fourth term in office
  • Republican billionaire Donald Trump enters office as 45th President of the United States