The right tools for the job: Succession in Austria

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Mario Haidlmair - CEO, Haidlmair, Austria

These days the Haidlmair tool manufacturing business is a high-tech success story selling all over the world, but it has its roots in the smithy in the family’s home town of Nussbach, which was run by the current CEO’s grandfather.

Mario Haidlmair took over in 2012, and there’s still a very strong family presence both as managers and owners: his brother is group controller, his mother an accountant, and his wife involved in sales.

“My father is still the president and majority shareholder, but now he only works part time. Though he’s invaluable as a sounding-board, especially when it comes to long-term strategic decisions. He never put pressure on my brother or me to join the company, but I’ve always seen my own future here. It was part of my life growing up, and I’ve known some of the staff here for decades. Our motto here is ‘People are the centre’, and we really believe it. And we act by it too – we take care of our employees and offer great benefits and incentives, and in many cases there are strong relationships between their whole family and our family. It’s not just a good way to run a company, it’s a solid business decision too, because it means our staff turnover is incredibly low.” 

Mario Haidlmair - CEO, Haidlmair

Mario Haidlmair - CEO, Haidlmair

Mario took a number of roles outside the business before joining it, working in Chile, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, and Germany. “It was when I was running Haidlmair’s Hungarian business that my father first talked to me about succeeding him as overall CEO. He said he believed in me, and would be my mentor, and he has been. He’s been there when I’ve needed him, but he’s also let me make my own decisions and my own mistakes. That’s the only way you learn. I’ve seen the succession process fail in other family firms because the older generation haven’t been willing to let go, but that was never the case here.” It will be some time yet before Haidlmair sees a fourth generation, but there’s a clear ambition to keep the business within the family. 

The Haidlmair team, Austria

The Haidlmair team, Austria

“As the next generation come through we’ll be working hard to give them opportunities for experience outside Haidlmair, as I think that’s the best way to get a wider perspective and develop the skills you need, just as I did. The right tools for the job, you could say!”

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