KBA celebrates 200th birthday in style
November 10, 2017

The festive week for the 200th anniversary of Koenig & Bauer AG in Würzburg drew to a close with more than 13000 visitors at the Open Day on 23 September. 650 guests from all over the world attended the official ceremony in the Vogel Convention Center (VCC), with former Federal President Horst Köhler as main speaker and short presentations by three CEOs of renowned printing companies. Many customers and business partners visited the spruced-up main factory in Würzburg and experienced historical and modern printing presses in action.

The week of celebrations had begun with an international press conference at which the company, which has successfully adapted to a changing print market, presented its ambitious goals and strategies for the future, as well as its new market appearance.

In his welcoming speech to the guests in the VCC, CEO Claus Bolza-Schünemann dealt with the history of the company, which is closely linked to that of his own family. He thanked generations of customers, executives and employees for their contributions through economic crises, wars and technological transformations. “Print has been keeping our company and its employees moving for 200 years now. Even in a digitalised world, it is always an exciting task finding new technologies, solutions and applications for print with which our customers can continue to be successful,” he said.

With brand expert Karsten Kilian from the Hochschule Würzburg-Schweinfurt acting as anchor man, three CEOs from renowned companies spoke about the current situation and future prospects of print in different segments of the large and diversified market for printed products. In his short lecture on World of Media, Axel Hentrei, CEO of the Bertelsmann Printing Group in Gütersloh, explained the impact of the online media on book, brochure, catalogue, magazine and advertising printing. In the light of reduced volumes with a growing number of titles, he sees possible solutions in the automation of production processes, the finishing of printed products, the division of work between print and online, and in digital printing.

Several hundred customers and business partners used the jubilee to take a tour round the main plant of the Koenig & Bauer Group in Würzburg.

Hans Schur, owner and CEO of the Danish packaging group Schur International, spoke about the World of Packaging’, and in view of the growing world population, particularly emphasised the often-overlooked role of packaging for the longer shelf lives of foodstuffs. Besides the role of packaging as a silent salesman at the point of sale, this function is becoming more and more important, since the online trade now also includes food, for which an uninterrupted refrigeration chain and suitable packaging solutions are required.

World of Security was the topic of Ralf Wintergerst, CEO of Giesecke+Devrient in Munich. The CEO of the renowned producer of banknotes and electronic payment systems dealt, among other things, with the growing risks of cybercrime for electronic and online payment systems, as well as efforts to make physical banknotes as forgery-proof as possible by employing new security features. In spite of electronic competition in the age of digitalisation, he does not see the end of printed banknotes, especially since the currency in circulation is continuing to rise world-wide.

In his concluding short lecture on World of Brands, Karsten Kilian pointed out the enormous importance of brands for business success. His credo: “A great idea is the basis of every major brand.” His conclusion: “Especially in our times of increasing digitalisation and dynamic change, we need strong brands for orientation.”

The traditional brand of Koenig & Bauer, which has been comprehensively redesigned for the company’s 200th birthday after many acquisitions in the last 25 years, as well as its underlying messages and values, were presented to the guests in a professional video.

Former Federal President of Germany Horst Köhler, also former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and expert on Africa, presented the conflict between the growth of the world population, the scarcity of resources and digitalisation as the central points of his impressive speech. “You can regard these three trends as big trains heading towards each other. Only when we understand how little solutions on only one side of the triangle can help us we will realise what a mammoth task humanity is facing. In the future as well, every country must forge its own destiny. But to be successful, we must all keep an eye on much more than just our own anvil. In the 21st Century, we need nations that realise that they are all sitting in the same boat. We need political answers that merge into a new paradigm of global partnership. We need a global economy that allows all people on earth to live in dignity, without destroying our planet.”

The former German President described Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer, the founders of Koenig & Bauer, as examples of the wealth of ideas, creative drive and entrepreneurial spirit needed to solve the questions of the future. He also emphasised the social achievements of the company in the mid-19th Century under Fanny Koenig. “Such a social dimension is characteristic of many family-run businesses and family enterprises in Germany, and it contributes substantially to the climate and to the success of the social market economy.”

November 2017