Interview with Daniel Hager, CEO of Hager Group

Being dedicated to our work while maintaining a healthy private life can be a difficult task. Not least because the choice is not always ours; our place of work determines greatly how realistic our preferred life choices are. For most businesses, supporting work-life integration for their employees has become a great priority. Satisfied and balanced employees are less prone to stress-related illnesses, have an increased sense of loyalty towards the company and perform better. A remarkable example of the success a balanced work environment can produce, is Hager Group, a third generation family business.

Hager Group is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. In 1955, Hermann and his brother, Dr. Oswald Hager, founded the enterprise together with their father, Peter, in Ensheim, Germany. What started out as an electro-technical factory that provided products to Germany and France, turned into a global enterprise. With solutions available in over 95 countries and with over 11,400 employees, the family business offers electrical installation solutions and services to residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. Needless to say the now third generation family business has come a long way since its beginnings. At the forefront of automation and energy technology, Hager Group is still very much a family business. Daniel Hager, third generation member and CEO of Hager Group, spoke to Tharawat about acquisitions, the balance between work and life, and the propagation of a sustainable vision.

Why and how did you get started in the family business?

I officially joined in 2003. When you are part of a business legacy, I guess you always have an eye on the firm no matter what you do in life. After studying business, I decided to get some outside experience to see what I was capable of. When the time came, I had a discussion with my predecessor, who was not a family member and was planning for retirement. When I finally came aboard, I felt it was a great challenge but an even greater opportunity.

I had a lot of work experience within the company before reaching the top. The fact that my own family ran the business made it rather easy for me to assimilate the values and vision. Today, my brother and my cousin are on the supervisory board. My other cousin, Peter, is involved in managing relationships with electricians. Even my 88-year-old father still comes to the office every other day.

Hager employs thousands. How is a family firm able to manage such a large work force?

Our organisation is based on a dualistic model. From a business and a legal perspective, we are a European company (SE, Societas Europaea). The family elects a supervisory board which then designates the executive board. The executive board is in charge of the business. We have split the operative plan and long-term strategy, the latter is devised by the family.