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Dietmar Harting – entrepreneur and visionary – turns 75

Espelkamp, Germany – The chairman of the board of Harting Technology Group, Dietmar Harting, turned 75 years old today.


Espelkamp, Germany – The chairman of the board of Harting Technology Group, Dietmar Harting, turned 75 years old on Sept. 15, 2014.

“An entrepreneur must always be restless,” and accordingly, Dietmar Harting is always setting himself new goals. “I take great pleasure in dealing with the future of the company.” The personally liable partner and chairman of the board of the Harting Technology Group would have good reason to set himself a more leisurely pace with the celebration of his 75th birthday on September 15 in Espelkamp – where the foundation was laid for the success story of the Harting Technology Group back in 1950.

The entrepreneur, however, does not regard this date as any particular reason to withdraw from the company. “Thanks to the successful generational transition in our company, I have the freedom today to focus on the topics of the future and address new technologies and innovations,” he says.

Since 1969, the East Westphalian has stood at the helm of the family company his parents Wilhelm and Marie Harting founded in Minden in 1945. Determined, passionate, persistent, as well as endowed with great foresight and an untiring zest for action, the celebrated jubilee – joined by his wife Margrit in 1987 – developed the high-tech SME to a globally active player in the electronics and electrical engineering sector.

The Harting Technology Group ranks as a worldwide leader in the heavy industrial connector area. Top performance, quality and innovation are the hallmarks of the company. Harting offers tailored solutions and products for the three lifelines of industry: data, signal and power.

Today, the branch leader, with more than 40 national subsidiaries and some 4,000 employees worldwide is set, for the first time, to generate sales in excess of 500 million euros in the 2013-2014 business year.

At its Espelkamp headquarters, Harting is the largest employer, with a workforce of around 2,000. The company is characterized by its multifaceted commitment to the social, cultural and sports areas, as well as the technology-oriented education, training and advancement of the young generations.

After studying electrical engineering and economics in Munich, Hanover and Cologne (graduating with a degree in commerce), Dietmar Harting began his career with the family business in 1967 at the age of 28. By this time, the company, which had moved to Espelkamp in 1950, had a workforce of around 1,000 and a turnover in Germany of some DM 29 million.

In the early post-war years, the founder, Wilhelm Harting, found success with day-to-day consumer products such as lamps, hot plates and irons, as well as juke boxes. Later on, in a step that was to prove decisive, the range was expanded to include a newly developed, robust and easy-to-use connector. The triumph of the universally applicable Han connector paved the way for the dynamic development of the young company.

Since joining the family business, Dietmar Harting has consistently and successfully focused on internationalizing the Technology Group, as well as on the continuous, innovative development of the product portfolio. He made his vision clear as long ago as 1996: “We want to become a global enterprise.” Coupled with this is the equal intention to remain “an independent family business.”

The hands-on manager, entrepreneur and visionary, whose original wish was to become an archeologist, has a passion for more than just business and technology. From the very beginning, Dietmar Harting has been actively committed to various organizations and associations, accepting numerous positions and duties that extend far beyond his own business interests. And, as he says, it has “always given him great pleasure.”

From 1998 to 2004, Harting was the first proprietor of an SME to hold the presidency of the German Electrical and Electronics Industry Association (ZVEI). In acknowledgement of his services at the end of his term of office, he was appointed honorary president of the ZVEI.

As chairman of the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE, Dietmar Harting – meanwhile as an honorary member – continues to pursue his particular passion for standardization.

Moreover, he is a personal member of the Landeskuratorium NRW of the Stifterverband (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft) and chairman of the German Society for the Promotion of Research on Standardization e.V. (FNS).

The company itself is also closely linked with the history and industrial development of the town of Espelkamp, where it has been headquartered for almost six decades. Harting was one of the first five companies to set up business in the community founded by refugees in 1949, and is the only one still in family ownership.

As the Technology Group has grown, it has played a major role in the positive development of all areas of life in Espelkamp. Its clear commitment to the town and the surrounding region has been reflected in major investment and modern industrial architecture. This was also underscored by the inauguration of the new Harting Technology and Quality Center (HQT) in Espelkamp in June 2014. Another salient example is the Botta building in Minden, where the sales offices of Harting Deutschland have been headquartered since 2001.

Dietmar and Margrit Harting have also been generous in their support for cultural, sporting, medical and social facilities and initiatives, both publicly and behind the scenes. In 2002 the couple made a million-euro donation to finance the complete redevelopment and modernization of the Neues Theater in Espelkamp, which is today one of the most modern venues in the region and beyond.

Dietmar Harting himself is a lover of ball games. For many years, he has been a member of Handballverein Espelkamp (HVE); his loyalty to the local sports club Allgemeiner Turn- und Sportverein (ATSV) even dates back half a century. Moreover, he is also a sponsor of the local team FC Preußen. He, however, reserves a particular affection for the handball first league club GWD Minden, of which he is an enthusiastic supporter, both financially and in other ways. (Until the age of 18, Dietmar Harting and his parents lived in Dankersen, now a suburb of Minden — hence his enthusiasm for GWD and his close personal ties with the club.)

Apart from the company and his numerous honorary positions, Dietmar Harting enjoys hunting and farming. His commitment to sustainability, climate and environmental protection issues extends back over decades — long before the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was implemented. As he occasionally relates informally in conversations, it was the ‘Limits to Growth’ report by Club of Rome that sparked his interest at the time. This prompted him to design and build his own bio methane gas facility in Uchte, Lower Saxony – and the facility has been providing the Harting Technology Group with energy since then. As a welcome ancillary benefit, the surplus energy generated heats the outdoor swimming pool in Uchte.

When he is not immersed in the future of the company, his relaxed attention is on the future of his family — his eight grandchildren.

For information about Harting operations in North America, visit http://www.harting-usa.com/home/