Building up the multinational Würth Group is the life’s work of Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group. The development of the Group is considered one of the success stories in German economic history. It all started in the summer of 1945 with Adolf Würth opening a screw wholesale business in Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg.
His son, Reinhold, was right by his side from the very beginning and helped his father wherever he could. Reinhold Würth officially joined the company on 1 October 1949 as the second employee and first apprentice. Very early on, his father sent him on sales trips: At the age of just fifteen, Reinhold Würth drove to Düsseldorf all by himself for the first time to secure new customers for the company. Today, he admits that at the time he “was a little afraid of having to knock on doors unknown.” However, he was successful and returned with new orders.
In 1954, Adolf Würth passed away suddenly at the age of 45. At that time, Reinhold Würth took over the management of the family business at only 19, with two employees and an annual sales volume of EUR 80,000. He exceeded his first target of maintaining the sales volume of the previous year. Acting with a far-sighted strategy and vision and the support of his mother Alma Würth, Reinhold Würth successfully continued the business and added one success to the next. In 1962, the first national company, Würth Netherlands, was founded, followed by companies in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and other countries. In 1969, Reinhold Würth ventured over the Atlantic to North America. One year later, Würth expanded its activities to South Africa. With the establishment of the companies in Australia (1982), Japan, and Malaysia (both 1987), the small group of companies had extended its footprint across all continents.
By establishing and developing direct selling, an important foundation was laid for the company's success. More than 43,000 employees worldwide are in touch with their customers every day thanks to the many different sales channels. They know what their customers need and the company tailors its services to fit them: making the customers’ lives easier by developing innovative products. Lending a hand and finding new ideas and solutions that help customers in their day-to-day business are guiding principles at Würth. “Looking beyond the mountain and around the next corner” and leaving the well-trodden paths has always been one of Reinhold Würth’s basic rules for the company. His motto: “We are our customers’ employees.”
Based on these principles, Reinhold Würth has created a corporate culture that is based on optimism, dynamism, and appreciation of employees and their performance for their customers.
Apart from his responsibility for the staff and the company, his responsibility to society plays a central role for Reinhold Würth. To pool together different activities and actively promote this involvement, Reinhold Würth and his wife, Carmen Würth, established the Würth Foundation in 1987, which promotes and supports projects in the fields of art and culture, research and science, education and training, and integration. However, Würth’s commitment to society goes far beyond the work of the Würth Foundation. Starting in the winter semester of 1999/2000, Reinhold Würth was offered the Chair for Entrepreneurship at University of Karlsruhe (TH), where he shared with the students what is important when establishing and managing a company until 2003.
In recognition of his outstanding social and cultural commitment, as well as his entrepreneurial achievements, Reinhold Würth has received numerous awards:
He was awarded the German Founder’s Prize for his life’s work in 2004. He received the Great Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2005. In 2009, Reinhold Würth received the French medal “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” in recognition of his extraordinary merits in the cultural cooperation between Germany and France and was appointed Commander of the French Légion d’Honneur in 2013. In 2012, Carmen and Reinhold Würth were awarded the James Simon Prize for their exemplary social and cultural commitment in Germany. Reinhold Würth was honored with the International Folkwang Prize in 2013. His good reputation is also reflected in the numerous honorary citizenships he was given over the years, including by the towns of Künzelsau and Schwäbisch Hall in Germany, Erstein in France and Palermo in Italy. Reinhold Würth is an honorary senator of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Stuttgart, and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen; he also holds numerous honorary doctorates, including from University of Palermo in Italy and University of Louisville in Kentucky in the USA.
Reinhold Würth is a passionate art collector and a devoted champion of culture. This passion was ignited back in the 1970s. Half a century later, the Würth Collection contains about 20,000 works of art from over 500 years of art history, and it is still growing. In 2017, in the wake of inaugurating Carmen Würth Forum, Reinhold Würth prompted the foundation of Würth Philharmoniker, the new philharmonic orchestra in the region. Museum Würth 2 was opened in 2020 as an extension of Carmen Würth Forum, representing the company’s fifth art museum in Germany and 15th art gallery in Europe. Reinhold Würth’s top priority has always been to share his inspiration from art, music, and literature with his employees and with the public at large.