Zoomed in A true, global Swabian
Swabians are often considered "the Scots of Germany". While this also implies all sorts of negative stereotypes, Swabians are also said to be hard-working, which is a prejudice that is certainly true for Lothar Horn.
The residents of Baden-Württemberg have quite a reputation in the rest of the country - and let's just say it's not an altogether positive one. They are accused of being thrifty and miserly; however, they are also seen as tidy, hard-working and inventive.
The latter is certainly true of Lothar Horn, managing director of Hartmetall-Werkzeugfabrik Paul Horn in Tübingen, Germany. Lothar Horn is a very open, positive and generous man – judging from the many events and trade shows where I had the honour to meet him and his family – and has grown his father’s company into what is today - a world leader in the production of grooving, turning and slot-milling tools used by automotive, general engineering, aerospace, hydraulics/pneumatics, jewellery and medical equipment manufacturers around the world.
Celebrating his 60th birthday last year, the man who employs more than 1,400 people worldwide, generating a turnover of around €270m, says he has not always wanted to join the family business, which was founded by his father, Paul Horn, in 1969 as Paul Horn Einstechtechnik in Waiblingen.
“When I was young, joining my father's company was never my plan in the first place,” Horn says. "As a result, when my parents decided to move from Waiblingen to Tübingen in 1974, I stayed in Waiblingen. I wanted to get some working experience first. Finally, in 1989, we talked about me joining the company, which I did in 1991. My parents were already past their retirement age at the time, but I am grateful that I had the chance to develop myself and my skills, while at the same time being guided by my parents."
“When I joined the company in sales and production, my father said it would certainly take ten years to grow into the position of general manager, to gain the necessary experience. But I was working hard, up to 16 hours per day, which I said was a very easy calculation ... if you divide my daily work hours by a normal eight-hour work day, then those ten years are reduced to five; and as a matter of fact I became managing director of Paul Horn GmbH in 1995.”