Founder: Carl Johann Freudenberg.
Headquarters: Weinheim, Germany.
Number of employees: Close to 41,000.
Key family members active in the company: Only a handful of family members are active in the company; the most prominent among them is Martin Wentzler, chairman of the Supervisory Board. Other family members hold management positions in areas of their expertise.
Freudenberg has a rule by which family members are required to receive training and obtain rele-vant experience out-side of Freu-denberg before taking a position in the company.
What it does: Freudenberg is a values-based technology group that best serves its customers and society. A conglomerate of 10 business groups provides innovative products and solutions in areas of sealing technologies, performance materials, chemical specialties and IT services.
Together with its partners, customers and scientific institutions, the Freudenberg Group develops leading-edge technologies and excellent products, solutions and services for more than 30 market segments and for thousands of applications.
Markets served: Freudenberg companies serve a variety of markets, ranging from automotive, aerospace, medical, chemical, oil and gas, construction and information technology to household products and the food industry.
Number of generations involved in the business: Currently, the seventh generation of Freudenberg family members is involved in the business.
What are the strengths of a family owned business? The most important strengths of a family owned business are stability, long-term orientation and flexibility.
What are the challenges of a family owned business? Freudenberg is owned by more than 320 family members, none of whom owns more than 2 percent of shares. Therefore, there is no majority owner. Family representatives are a part of the Supervisory Board, and decisions are made on recommendation of the professional Management Board.
Do non-family members hold
any executive or ownership roles? As of March, 2016, the Supervisory Board consists of 12 members, seven family representatives and five non-family members; the Board of Management is made of three members (professional, non-family) and is responsible for running the company.
How much does the younger generation influence decisions? The annual Freudenberg family shareholder meeting provides an opportunity for all family members to learn about business performance, latest developments and business strategy.
Something you may not know about the company: Freudenberg products, although not always visible, are present in a majority of products that we come across in our daily life, from cars to kitchen appliances, from building materials to medical devices, clothing, and even candy.
O-Cedar cleaning supplies brand in the U.S., and Vileda in other countries are rarely recognized as Freudenberg brands.
What advice would you offer a young entrepreneur who wants to start a family run business? Establishing a set of core business values and principles and making them permanent while being innovative and open to change in your business secures the longevity of the business.