“The strong personal responsibility and commitment of our teams are the decisive success factor for the implementation of our strategy.”

Dr. Thorsten Kahlert

Dr. Thorsten Kahlert, CEO and Chairman of the HOERBIGER Executive Board, wants to continue driving the transformation of the Group together with the 6,174 employees on an equal footing. The profitable growth in the past year, progress in innovation projects and the noticeable change in the corporate culture are an ideal basis for this.

The past fiscal year once again proved to be extremely positive for the HOERBIGER Group. What is your assessment of the past twelve months?


Dr. Thorsten Kahlert - 2023 was a historic year for me in many respects. We generated the highest turnover in the company’s 129-year history and have thus grown organically and profitably by over 40 percent in the past three years. At the same time, we succeeded in driving forward the transformation of the Group last year. We made great progress in our innovation projects in hydrogen, e-mobility and piezo technology and were able to further establish ourselves in high-growth markets such as the semiconductor industry and medical technology. This is an extraordinary team effort by all 6,174 HOERBIGER employees, both in the existing business and in the future fields.

“2023 was an extraordinary team effort by all 6,174 HOERBIGER employees, both in the existing business and in future topics.”

Dr. Thorsten Kahlert
CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board

What are the main reasons for the renewed growth in your opinion?


TK - In my view, there are two main points. Firstly, we have the right business strategy. Our customers appreciate the fact that we support them with our performancedefining products and services to optimally master the challenges in their sectors and industries. Thanks to our “local for local” approach, we are close to our customers and can quickly understand what they really need. At the same time, we have a concrete plan for how HOERBIGER will use innovation and M&A to ensure that our customers stay ahead in their markets tomorrow and that they can rely on HOERBIGER as a dependable (development) partner.

Secondly, we have the right people at HOERBIGER who are committed to our customers and the Group every day. Particularly in management, we have succeeded in revitalizing values and behavioral anchors that may not have been at the top of the list in recent years. I am thinking, for example, of Pioneering Spirit, Courage, Team Spirit and Ownership. In my view, this cultural change is the decisive success factor for the implementation of our strategy. There is an exceptionally high level of motivation among all employees – I experience this in direct exchanges, and it is also impressively demonstrated by the results of the employee survey.

Dr. Thorsten Kahlert

Karl Doppler, in charge of the Compression Division’s production at the Vienna plant, provides Dr. Thorsten Kahlert with a demonstration of the latest machine.


You mentioned M&A activities, i.e. acquisitions. Can you comment on past and future acquisitions?


TK - With the four smaller acquisitions we made last year and at the beginning of 2024, we primarily strengthened our existing business by securing technological expertise and expanding our position in existing markets. We were also able to drive our growth in new industries and markets. This year, we will continue to strengthen and develop our existing business as well as move into adjacent or new business areas. Promising projects are currently underway in all business areas, which will accelerate our growth and help us with our transformation.


Where else do you see growth potential for HOERBIGER?


TK - While the disruption in the global automotive business makes it difficult to grow in this industry in the short term, we continue to see great growth potential in all other areas. The Compression Division and the Engine Business Unit are benefiting from unabated high demand in the energy sector – for solutions in the traditional business, but also increasingly for solutions to reduce emissions and in the field of hydrogen. Safety is a megatrend that is accelerating rapidly, especially in the emerging markets. And the growth of the Rotary Business Unit is characterized by the increasing importance of renewable energies as well as the continuous growth in the semiconductor industry.


That sounds like another year of strong growth ..

TK - We assume that HOERBIGER will continue to grow in 2024. However, we anticipate somewhat more moderate growth compared to the previous year, with slightly lower profitability. In addition to the continuing very difficult economic conditions, this is primarily due to the significant increase in expenditure and investment in our innovation projects, which we have massively expanded this year. This will ensure that our growth can also be driven forward decisively in the long term through innovation across the Group.

Despite our current success, it is important that we stay grounded, keep our focus and constantly question ourselves. In addition to customer-centered innovation, we have many other issues that we need to tackle now so that we can drive our transformation forward. These include operational excellence, talent development and digitalization. We have made great progress in all these areas over the past three years – particularly through collaboration across the Group. However, we have set ourselves ambitious targets in all these areas, which we have not yet achieved.


You handed over the management of the Rotary, Engine and Safety Business Units to Dr. Christian Habicht in April and are now focusing on your role as CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board. What do you expect from your successor?


TK - Christian Habicht’s mission is to systematically continue the expansion of the Rotary, Engine and Safety Business Units and to establish these future-oriented Business Units as HOERBIGER’s strong third pillar. The three Units already account for a quarter of Group sales today and will be important drivers of our growth and transformation in the coming years.

I am sure that Christian will be an excellent addition to our proven team as an additional member of the Executive Board.


What priorities have you set yourself as CEO for 2024?

TK - primary goal is to consistently continue our growth of recent years. Profitability is a key criterion here, as our earning power enables us to secure our independence and finance the initiatives necessary for our transformation. To be successful in the long term, HOERBIGER must reinvent itself in many areas, as our traditional business segments, such as the combustion engine, are undergoing fundamental change. I want to consistently drive this transformation towards new future and growth areas, such as the semiconductor industry and medical technology. We will only be successful if we can inspire all colleagues at HOERBIGER to achieve this goal. With this in mind, we will also further intensify and consistently expand our communication efforts within the Group.

“My primary goal is to consistently continue our growth of recent years. The key criterion here is profitability, as our earning power enables us to secure our independence and finance the initiatives necessary for our transformation.”

Corporate culture seems to be an important success factor for you. Can you tell us a little more about this?


TK - An open corporate culture characterized by strong Ownership, a Pioneering Spirit and Respect is the decisive basis for our future success. I am deeply convinced of this. Positive change and new ideas – i.e. innovation – only thrive in an environment with a strong feedback culture, a high tolerance for mistakes and a willingness to take risks, as well as clear customer knowledge and a strong will to implement.

In addition, it is important to me in our corporate culture that there is a constant desire for further development and growth. Only if we grow as a company will we be able to offer our employees long-term opportunities for personal development. A company that stagnates cannot do this for its employees in the long term and is therefore not attractive to new talent from outside. As we are experiencing very solid growth as a company, I hope that we will now also support our employees even more systematically and consistently over the next few years in taking advantage of the development opportunities this offers. We have launched various initiatives with our P&C organization to support our employees in this.


In your view, where does HOERBIGER currently stand in the transformation process?

TK - I sense a tremendous amount of energy and a clear sense of optimism among my colleagues around the world. We have obviously succeeded in igniting the enthusiasm of our employees. We can see this clearly in customer satisfaction, the enormous progress made in innovation projects and in cooperation across the Group. 

We were able to gain interesting insights from our “Voice for Excellence” employee survey, which we conduct every two years across the Group. 82 percent of colleagues gave us feedback on the topics of strategy, culture, engagement and performance – exceeding the high level of participation in 2021 by a further 3 percent. The engagement and performance environment scores have increased significantly at management level. Despite a slight decrease in the total workforce, HOERBIGER remains in the top fifth, well above the global benchmark.


Which company value is most important to you personally?

TK - For me, this is clearly Closeness – to each other as Team HOERBIGER and to our customers and partners. For me, this value makes the decisive difference so that we can pursue and achieve our goals together at eye level.