Dear customers and readers,
We have all been deeply affected and saddened by the sudden death of Dr Hermann Niehues, Board Chairman of RETHMANN AG & Co. KG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of REMONDIS AG & Co. KG.
Dr Niehues died as a result of a riding accident on 07 September 2008. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his loving wife Jutta, his daughter Katja and all other members of the Niehues family.
Our family-run company has lost a board and supervisory board chairman who developed, structured and managed this company in a most responsible manner. I, personally, am truly saddened by the far too early death of a long-standing companion and friend.
Hermann Niehues was born in Münster on 29 March 1947. Having gained his high school leaving certificate, he studied economics at the Westfälische Wilhelms University in Münster which he successfully completed having written his thesis at the Institute of Transport Economics under the aegis of Prof. Hellmut Seidenfus. Following his Ph.D., his professional career began at the management consultancy company, A. T. Kearny, in 1976. He proved to be a natural entrepreneur having grown up in an entrepreneurial family.
I had the opportunity to meet Hermann Niehues via the German Association of Young Entrepreneurs (BJU) and, at the beginning of 1978, I succeeded in persuading him to join us as managing director and employee of RETHMANN Städtereinigung which was going through major changes at that time. With him – and Reinhard Lohmann who joined the company a year later as commercial manager – the personnel foundation had been created enabling the company group to further develop both quickly and consistently.
Being a keen observer of social developments within the area of environmental protection and the resulting demands on the waste management sector, he very quickly recognized the challenges that the branch had to face. His clear train of thoughts and his analytical skills, which he always used to develop strategies to further develop the business, created a sound basis for our mutual discussions enabling us to make sensible decisions concerning the company. An incredible feeling of mutual trust developed between us extremely quickly. This was helped along by the mutual respect we had for one another and the fact that we genuinely liked each other.
Hermann Niehues, Mr Lohmann and I became a management team in a creative, fertile and exciting field. Our motivation was fuelled by our management philosophy that proved time and time again to be right: handing over and encouraging responsibility – and even at the highest levels –, promoting entrepreneurial skills and taking appropriate action whenever necessary.
I showed back in 1992 just how great my confidence was in Hermann Niehues, in his far-sightedness and in his strategic skills, when I handed over the responsibility for the RETHMANN Group to Dr Niehues appointing him chairman of the board and chairman of the supervisory board of our family business.
Under him, REMONDIS AG developed into a leading water and environmental service company, SARIA AG into a leading business within the sector for recycling slaughter products and rendering and, last but by no means least, RHENUS AG into a leading company within the logistics branch. Before his death, Hermann Niehues was responsible for our family company with its 34,000 employees and an annual turnover of 7.2 billion euros.
Mention should also be made to his active work in numerous associations, bodies and committees as well as to his voluntary work. He was deputy president of the Society for the Promotion of Olympic Equestrian Sports (FORS). He was a dedicated horseman throughout his childhood and beyond and in 1990 he became a member of the German eventing team. Between 1997 and 2001, he sat on the eventing committee of the German Olympic Riding Association (DOKR). Furthermore, he worked closely together with FORS for many years and, following the death of Dr Reiner Klimke in 1999, took over the position of deputy president of the society.
In his position as vice president of the Federation of the German Waste Management Industry, he gave new impetus to this association helping to develop the water and environmental service sector. He had a sustainable and long-lasting influence on the way the branch was and still is viewed by both the public and branch representatives. During his last years, he felt especially responsible for the development of our logistics subsidiary, RHENUS AG. He became chairman of the transport department of the Economic Board of the CDU party, and actively supported scientific research by sitting on committees at the universities of Münster, Leipzig and Hamburg. Moreover, he was an active supporter of the Westphalian Heart Foundation.
Our company family keenly feels the great gap left behind by the death of this talented, distinguished, judicious and internationally highly respected man, who was my friend, partner and fellow entrepreneur for 30 years. It is hard to imagine just how great a loss this must be for his wife Jutta, his daughter Katja and for the rest of his family. Our thoughts are with them.
It is the duty of the RETHMANN company group, its many employees and myself never to forget him and all he has done for the company.
Dr Hermann Niehues,
*29 March 1947 † 07 September 2008