The family and staff of the ENGEL Group mourn the loss of their senior directors.
Irene and Georg Schwarz both passed away within only a few days of each other in late March and early April at ages 86 and 88. For decades, they jointly managed the business and laid the foundation for the extraordinary success of what is today a worldwide group of companies with more than 5000 staff members. Both followed the development of the company with great inter-est until the end.
Irene Schwarz had dedicated her life to the company already as a child and shaped ENGEL for more than 70 years. Born in 1929 in Neu Werbaß (today called Vrbas) in Serbia, Irene Engel came with her family to Austria in 1944, where one year later her father Ludwig Engel founded a machinery construction company in Schwertberg. She worked in the company from the very beginning. Over many years she was book keeper, financial director, controller and director of human resources all at the same time.
In 1951, she married Georg Schwarz, who also joined the staff at his father-in-law’s com-pany. Georg Schwarz was born in 1928 in Essegg (today called Osijek) in Croatia. His family history was also marked by displacement and flight as a refugee at the end of the Second World War. In 1945, the Schwarz family found a new home in Upper Austria. Georg Schwarz attended the technical school for mechanical engineering in Linz, and completed an apprenticeship as a machinist parallel to these studies.
Side by side at work and in private life
After the sudden death of Ludwig Engel in 1965, Irene and Georg Schwarz took over the management of the company that had 380 employees at the time. With entrepreneurial courage and a special intuition concerning industry trends and growing markets, they guided the company onto a path of growth that continues today. Early on they decided to establish foreign subsidiaries, opened two production plants in North America and already set the course for the system solutions business in the 1980s with the development and production of the company’s own robots.
They led the company with farsighted vision and always kept the family succession in focus. In 1997, they turned over the operational management to the third generation. Currently, ENGEL is implementing the next generational transition, and the senior directors were also involved in the process.
Both of them were actively involved in the business well beyond their 80th birthdays. At the start of the new millennium, they oversaw the step into Asia with the founding of the production plants in Korea and China, and when flooding destroyed the production facilities at the headquarters in Schwertberg in 2002, they also joined in actively tackling the task of rebuilding.
Country and Industry honour accomplishments
In their company, the plastics industry and beyond, Irene and Georg Schwarz were highly appreciated as business people, but also on a personal level.
The government of Upper Austria honored their contributions in the plastics industry and their exemplary service for the company and the region with the Decoration of Honor in Gold. Georg Schwarz had also been also awarded the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold of the State of Lower Austria and the Grand Decoration of Honor in Silver of the Republic of Austria.
In 1978, Georg Schwarz was appointed Honorary Senator of the University of Leoben and in 1992 Honorary Senator of the Vienna University of Technology. In 2009, his name was added to the Plastics Hall of Fame. This has its headquarters at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, USA, and represents the highest honor awarded in the international plastics industry. Georg Schwarz was a member of the board of the Federation of Austrian Industries for many years, and also represented the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.
Irene Schwarz was appointed Honorary Senator of the University of Leoben in 2006, the first woman in the history of the university.
For ENGEL, the deaths of Irene and Georg Schwarz mark the end of an era. They leave behind a void that cannot be filled.