Celebrating the visionary mechanical engineer’s 90th birthday
Who is Heinz Zahoransky?
On September 7, 2018, Dr. Heinz Zahoransky celebrated his 90th birthday. This visionary played a decisive role in transforming his father's business, founded in 1902, into a global technology group. Today, the ZAHORANSKY Group employs around 800 people at ten locations in seven countries, holds many registered patents and serves more than 4,000 customers worldwide. How Heinz Zahoransky laid the foundations for the company's development using far-sightedness, and what kind of innovation the employees still benefit from today is at the center of this bibliographical profile.
At the age of seven, Heinz Zahoransky attended grade school first in Todtnau, then in Schönau. He wished to graduate high school in Freiburg at the Ludendorff School, today's Kepler-Gymnasium. However, long before graduation, his class was drafted for military service as flak helpers in 1944. Heinz Zahoransky was only 15 years old. Although he had never participated in active combat, he became a prisoner of war for three years. As such, he was forced to work a quarry, road construction and for a warehouse’s management south of Saint-Malo, in France, after the war.
From a completed high school diploma to a doctorate
Heinz Zahoransky only returned to Germany shortly after his 20th birthday in September 1948. At a private school, he caught up with his high school diploma. In the spring of 1950, Heinz Zahoransky was admitted into the Karlsruhe University of Technology, where he received a degree in mechanical engineering in September 1954. After a brief intermezzo as a designer of tool machines at a company in Calmbach, he returned to the Technical University of Karlsruhe as a research assistant and lecturer. He completed this second turn at college by attaining a doctorate in 1958.
Heinz Zahoransky lays the foundation for today's corporate group
In early 1959, he joined his father's business as an employee. By autumn, he became second Management Director alongside his stepbrother Richard Zahoransky (senior). After Richard’s death, in 1963, Heinz Zahoransky run the company for more than three decades by himself and created the foundations for the exceedingly successful development of today's global corporation.
Heinz Zahoransky was confronted with major challenges during the first years of his management work. At one point, the company came into severe dependencies, owing to an unfortunate license agreement. On the other hand, there was high demand for innovative drilling and tuffting machines. That is why new designs had to be launched quickly. In the next few years, ZAHORANSKY experienced a unique boom due to many new machine designs, mostly based on his ideas. These included, for example, the VS series, the predecessor machines of today's Z.LION.
Expansion in Germany and abroad
The new machine designs were so well received in the industry, that in 1967, a new factory had to be built at the headquarters in Todtnau, being extended only two years later. In 1972, ZAHORANSKY expanded its site in Freiburg with a new building. Shortly thereafter, a new plant in Logroño, Spain, was inaugurated; it became the company’s first site abroad. This was followed by the parent plant’s move to a new building in Todtnau-Geschwend’s green fields in 2003 – the group of companies’ most important and largest location to date. In the same year, the Indian subsidiary started production in Mumbai. The plant in question was later relocated to Coimbatore in southern India and currently has 130 employees.
Focus on the employees
Dr. Heinz Zahoransky invested not only in the expansion of the factories. From an early age, he was aware that his employees are an essential source of his company's success. As early as 1959, he introduced the company improvement system, in which the employees’ implemented efficiency and improvement suggestions are rewarded. So far, more than 1.5 million euros have been saved due to the ideas of the workforce. In addition, the ZAHORANSKY company relief organization, where employees and companies donate jointly to social institutions, was founded in 1970.
Vision of a diverse company
In terms of content, this visionary also ensured a broader set-up of his company: in 1966, ZAHORANSKY became active in mold making for the first time. After several initial difficulties with the new technology, this product line is now an integral part of the group's portfolio. Today, a quarter of the company’s sales generates via injection molds. In 1992, the department was spun off into an independent company: ZAHORANSKY Formenbau GmbH (today: ZAHORANSKY Automation & Molds GmbH). Simultaneously, another mold making company was founded in Rothenkirchen in Saxony.
Dr. Heinz Zahoransky retired as managing director of ZAHORANSKY AG after 46 years of successful management in July of 2005. He was then elected to the Supervisory Board, a position from which he resigned on 31 March 2012. At age 83, he went into well-earned retirement. To this day, he regularly receives information about the development of the company.
Since 2005, Dr. Heinz Zahoransky has been honorary citizen of Todtnau. In 2007, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the German Federal Cross of Merit. A year later, he was the first foreigner who received the "Cruz al Merito", the Medal of Merit of the province of La Rioja (Spain). In 2012, he was awarded the Economic Medal of the State of Baden- Württemberg and was given the Freiburg Entrepreneur Prize.
Target: 100 million euros in sales
Currently, the ZAHORANSKY Group employs around 800 people, 65 of whom are apprentices. It produces at four locations in Germany, as well as in Spain and India; it possesses sales and service subsidiaries in Chicago (USA), Shanghai (China), Kobe (Japan) and São Paulo (Brazil). The group expects to reach the sales mark of 100 million euros for the first time in 2018.