An obituary for the death of Siegfried R. Wagner
Former Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) management board member Siegfried R. Wagner died on June 16 at the age of 89. As an outstanding personality, he left a lasting mark on the fortunes of W&H and the flexible packaging industry, the positive effects of which can still be clearly felt today. Siegfried R. Wagner made a decisive contribution to the successful development of the Windmöller & Hölscher group of companies, which today holds a leading position worldwide as a solution provider of systems and machines for the production of flexible packaging.
Siegfried R. Wagner was born on January 13, 1932 in Pfarrkirchen in Lower Bavaria and spent his childhood there. After graduating from high school, he moved to Munich to study, where he also met his future wife Gisela, née Windmöller. His degree in economics from the Ludwig Maximilian University there was followed by further business studies in Turin and Paris. In 1957 he also passed the first state examination in law at the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice.
Siegfried R. Wagner started working for W&H on October 1, 1958, after spending his first professional time at the general management of Allianz Insurance in Munich. After starting in financial accounting and IT, he soon switched to sales. The focus was on the printing and bag making machines, and later on the entire program. In 1962 he was granted power of attorney and in 1965, after the sudden death of Walter Steinbeck sen., he took, over the worldwide sales management.
Until his departure on January 31, 1997, Siegfried R. Wagner was a member of the management and at the same time deputy of the personally liable partners, responsible for sales, marketing, public relations and the legal department. Many international subsidiaries have been founded under his responsibility and have been closely supervised by him personally. Siegfried R. Wagner traveled the world and had close and personal relationships with many customers. Thanks to his communicative nature and good language skills in English, French and Italian as well as his amiable and authoritative manner, good personal contact was always established very quickly.
The company’s corporate identity, communication, exhibition stands and, last but not least, the look of the machines have always been an affair by the heart. Siegfried R. Wagner was a friend of words, particularly the printed word. While still at school, he worked as a freelancer in the local newspapers in his home country. He was an avid reader with tall stacks of newspapers, magazines, trade press and books in the office and at home too. As a meticulous designer and author of the W&H in-house magazine “FÜR DICH” (“For You”), of press publications, letters to the editor and specialist articles, he made huge contributions to the company’s good public image and has not lost this interest into old age.
A revolution in design
His great interest in art and photography combined with his keen sense for design and product names have had a lasting influence on the W&H product portfolio. Without question, the major milestone was the conversion of the previously green machine design to the white and red “New Line” design, which was conceived with the external designer Rino Bossy. White machines were a complete novelty in what had been a very conservative design industry. Siegfried R. Wagner was aware that a perfect, appealing, light design would convey the image of quality and cleanliness. But he, too, was surely surprised by the huge wave unleashed. The customers were enthusiastic and many redesigned their production halls in the clean W&H design. End customers from the food and hygiene sectors regard the company’s machines as the epitome of cleanliness and performance. Little by little, all competitors followed the new design language, which is still the basis of the further developed appearance of the machines in the current product range of W&H.
Most of the product names so common and known today originate from the inexhaustible fund of Siegfried R. Wagner. Right up to the end he was very happy to develop new machine names for Garant.
Founding member of the DFTA
Many committees related to W&H were also interested in working with him. These were in particular the German flexographic printing association (DFTA), which Siegfried R. Wagner co-founded in 1979 and closely accompanied for many years, and the trade fair advisory board of the PaPro trade fair in Düsseldorf. Its activities also included editorial advisory boards for trade journals. In Lengerich and Münsterland, too, his well-known communicative manner and his competence were highly valued. He was involved in many organizations and institutions, such as the Association of Münsterland Metal Industries and in the regional committee of Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in Münster. In Lengerich, the location of W&H, he was a member of the administrative board of the municipal savings bank and its credit committee for many decades.
After retiring from active employment, he remained loyal to W&H throughout the years. He was a partner and honorary chairman of the advisory board of the subsidiary Garant. He had to put aside his desire to travel and discover new countries in retirement in order to lovingly look after his wife in need of care for many years.
Dealing with people, talking to business partners and employees were his passion. Siegfried R. Wagner was fully committed to the success of W&H. He was always ready for discussion, always ready for consensus. The workforce as well as executives, management members and shareholders have valued him for his sincerity and reliability. Siegfried R. Wagner leaves behind his three daughters Elisabeth Braumann, Henriette Wagner and Sylvia Wagner, who are very close to the Windmöller & Hölscher company not only as shareholders.
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