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The interview: Thomas Kaeser

Chairman of the Board, Kaeser Kompressoren, Germany


Thomas Kaeser, born in 1953, in Coburg, Bavaria, Germany.General qualification for university entrance at Ernestinum Gymnasium in Coburg. Following an industrial engineering course of studies at the Technical University Karlsruhe in Germany and trainee residencies in France and the US, he joined the parental company in 1979 and became Managing Partner of KAESER KOMPRESSOREN GmbH in Coburg in 1985. Since February 2012, he is the Chairman of the Board of kaeser kompressoren se. He is also on the Board of the VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau – German Engineering Federation), the advisory board of the exhibitors of the Hanover Fair, the PNEUROP Council and the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA). He has been awarded the State Medal for outstanding services to the Bavarian industry (in November 2012).

When you first took over as a managing partner of Kaeser compressors in 1985, what were the hurdles you had to face?

There were no hurdles to face but a lot of challenges: to understand all the demands of different customers, to foster the relationships with our suppliers, to continuously find and develop new markets e.g. aquaculture, to push innovation and new product development, to canalize financial resources efficiently and properly, to develop a worldwide supply chain and to organise efficient and flexible production. To understand all this, to network and to communicate all these departments lead to the result of a successfully growing company.

In recent years what are the most critical technological developments that you have witnessed in the sector?

Of course it is important, necessary and inevitable that all products and services need continuous development for improvement with the main goal of energy efficiency and reliability. But even in those days I have seen the necessity for computer devices inside and outside machines and activity for the digitalisation of machines (digital twins) and processes.

In 2012 you were awarded the State Medal for Outstanding Services to the Bavarian Economy. What contributions have you made to the profession that is most meaningful to you?

For more that 100 years Kaeser Kompressoren has been a continuously positively developing company engaging every year additional competent and motived people who have been offered interesting and challenging tasks and an extremely safe working place. Even in very difficult times like the finance crisis in 2009 and the COVID crisis in 2022/2021, we did not give notice of any of our staff. Additionally, for nearly 20 years we have a programme to engage more than double as many apprentices as we needed to engage in the beginning, as to give to young people a chance of receiving good education and a precious possibility for a long-term job in the future.

Last but not least, the strategy of Kaeser Kompressoren has always been to offer to our customers a solution to save energy and money which is good for the company and good for the environment.

What are Opportunities for solution innovations that support sustainable goals in current manufacturing industry?

Digitalisation is a vital goal and development of Kaeser Kompressoren and all other companies as well to remain competitive and successful and to save as much energy and resources as possible.

Kaeser compressor celebrated 100 years a few years back. How would you describe the companies journey from a small workshop in 1919?

You can imagine that a journey of more than 100 years has many bright and also some dark moments. But the trust and confidence in our own strength and in a possible good future combined with the loyalty and solidarity to and of our employees, customers and suppliers has made it possible to overcome all the difficult challenges which appeared in our history.

Where do you think the industry will be by 2050?

Well, I cannot predict what future brings but we will work hard, goal-focused and with the best possible communication to employees and stakeholders. This ensures our success in the future.



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