As Advisory Committee Chairman, the company owner and longstanding managing director is still closely linked to the company
Heinz Gries, Partner, Advisory Committee Chairman and Fully Authorised Representative of Griesson - de Beukelaer (GdB), is 75 years old on 17 May. The longstanding managing director of the baked goods manufacturer is one of the formative creators in the national and international baked goods market, who turned a small family company in Rhineland-Palatinate into one of the most important companies in the sector. Heinz Gries has been the chairman of the newly formed advisory committee and fully authorised representative of GdB since 2009, following his retirement at the end of 2008 after 41 years as managing director of the operational business.
In 1955, the trained banker went into the family business and after his father, Hans Gries passed away in 1967 became the sole owner of the long-established company, Griesson, which at the time was mainly a seasonal producer of gingerbread products. Heinz Gries saw the opportunities in the market from early on and the potential for cost-effective industrial production as well as high standards in quality and technology. He streamlined the product range, ended seasonal dependency and enriched the baked goods market with numerous product innovations and alternatives such as the Soft Cake, the SchokoKeks or the Café Musica biscuit assortment. Heinz Gries relied on perfect automation, the best recipes and optimum quality production from the beginning and opened a new manufacturing facility in Polch in 1969. Another important expansion step was the building of a new production plant in Kahla (Thuringia), which is one of the most modern baked goods factories in Europe.
Significant changes for the future - 1999 merger
Heinz Gries demonstrated entrepreneurial vision in 1999 when he announced the merger with Danone's subsidiary General Biscuits, setting the course for long-term success. The new company, which Danone held a share of 40 percent of, has traded under the name Griesson - de Beukelaer GmbH & Co. KG, since 1 March 1999. In May 2007, Heinz Gries and chairman of the board of management, Andreas Land, took over Danone’s share of the company. The company is now once again entirely back in the family.
Heinz Gries has proved that he has an intuitive feel for the market and a flair for business expansion with further acquisitions in recent years. In 2005, GdB acquired the remaining 50 percent of shares of TEKRUM-Werk Theodor Krumm GmbH & Co. KG (Ravensburg), after Heinz Gries already had 50 percent of the pastry specialists since 1997. The traditional brand’s product portfolio is exclusively situated in the premium segment. This also applies for the Swiss premium brand Mövenpick, which GdB has produced and sold under licence since 2006. In February 2008, Heinz Gries secured shares in Wurzener Dauerbackwaren GmbH, a company in Saxony with a long tradition and a producer of ‘Erfrischungsstäbchen’ and wafers.
Creation of the Heinz Gries Foundation in 2004
Alongside his professional activities, Heinz Gries is also involved in professional groups and associations, including being a member of the Association of the German Confectionary Industry (since 1955). Heinz Gries also supports numerous social, cultural and sports projects - especially supporting regional schools, youth employment and UNICEF relief efforts. He created the non-profit Heinz Gries Foundation in 2004.
Goldener Zuckerhut prize for lifetime achievement
Heinz Gries has won numerous prizes and awards for his services to business and society, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004), the Goldene Uhr prize of the Bundesverbands des Süßwaren-Groß- und Außenhandels (Federation for Wholesale and Foreign Trade Confectionary) (2000) and the prestigious business award of the CDU-Mittelstandsvereinigung (CDU SME Association) of Rhineland-Palatinate (2006). In November 2009, Heinz Gries was awarded the Goldene Zuckerhut prize, the most prestigious award in the German food industry.