Art and Economy.

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Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, the entrepreneur, art patron and chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group, is convinced that art increases motivation within the company.

I've built up a global trading company for assembly materials and tools with 65,000 employees and a turnover of ten billion euros. Since our foundation by my father in 1945, we have recorded average annual growth rates of 22 percent. That makes me a little proud. But also humble. I could never have done it alone - it was the highly qualified employees who played a key role in shaping our success.

I had no big master plan when I had to take over the company at the age of 19 after my father died of a heart attack. I had two employees, the responsibility for my ten years younger brother and my mother. My father had given me one as a guideline for entrepreneurial action: Quality pays off. I have never deviated from this principle, not even in serious crises. Würth products are somewhat more expensive than others, but always of a special quality.

I attribute around 70 percent of our great success to the management culture in my company. After all, it is people who make our success possible. If they receive recognition and respect for their work, if they are allowed to work in an attractive environment and feel a sense of belonging, this has a positive effect on all levels of the company: our sickness rates are so low that our BKK offers extremely low contribution rates, fluctuation is low and our employees are very willing to perform. It is still very important to me today to express my sincere thanks and respect to employees for their extraordinary successes.

For me, leadership culture also includes my commitment to art. In the mid-1960s I began to buy individual works; today there are more than 16,000 paintings and sculptures of various provenances that we show in various museums of our own and others. The criterion for the purchase of an exhibit was and is that I must like it - assuming the recommendation of the art advisory board made up of highly qualified experts. To my first pictures belongs a watercolour by Emil Nolde, which I could buy for 55000 Marks. I still have my eyes on the situation when I was with my friend Paul Swiridoff at Ketterer in Campione d'Italia, who had recommended the picture to me. At that time I had a sleepless night because of the high sum before I decided to buy. I'm sure the painting is worth ten times that today.

But also for another reason it was worthwhile for me to build up my own collection. The art has a positive effect on the motivation and commitment of the employees as well as on the atmosphere in my company. Sure, not everyone is an art lover. But some are. Others will. And the rest of them also like to take their friends, who visit them, to our galleries in Schwäbisch Hall. When they receive the feedback: "Does your employer do all this? That's great," they are proud.

In addition, our Artothek employees can borrow pictures for a deposit of 100 euros and take them home for a certain period of time - of course not the most valuable works!

Architecture has always been important to me, simply because it is the most public of all the arts. If the commercial employees have a higher living culture during working hours than at home, some stay half an hour longer, which of course is good for the company. Over the decades, the Würth Group has developed a large number of office and operating facilities that reflect the industrial architecture of the time and promote the image of the company. After only eight years of compulsory schooling, my father brought me into the company - I was supposed to "create". Today I'm grateful to him for that. In three years of apprenticeship, I was able to learn what shapes the company: the quality of the products and the people who take responsibility. Art gives all of them and me much more back than it costs. ®

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