Peter Neumann, former CEO of Engel Holding GmbH, enters the Plastics Hall of Fame after putting the injection press maker on a path that's made it one of the world's largest molding machine suppliers.
Neumann, who became head of the group in 1997 and retired in 2016, oversaw the building of the company's three factories in Asia, dramatic investments that positioned it to take advantage of the economic growth in China and the region the last two decades.
He also steered Engel during technological changes like rising automation, which the company closely linked to its molding machines to offer manufacturers in high-cost, developed countries ways to boost their competitiveness.
And he helped see the firm through what he described as his most personally difficult time as an executive: The aftermath of a major flood in 2002 that "more or less completely destroyed" its headquarters and main factory in Schwertberg, Austria.
Through it all, he said, he always tried to push the company in new directions, to never be "satisfied with what we have reached already."
"I've always tried to have partners with me who push us to new limits," he said. "That's something that I think made us as a company and as a team successful."
In his time in senior leadership, the firm went from fewer than 300 million euros ($360 million) in sales to 1.36 billion euros ($1.63 billion). Today, though, Neumann is going at a little slower pace, enjoying sailing the Mediterranean Sea and spending time with his twin 7-year-old grandsons.
"I'm sometimes the ski instructor for them," he quipped.
He still stays in the business world, though. He sits on corporate boards; is helping a friend transition a family-owned firm to its next generation; and consults with Engel executives, including current CEO Stefan Engleder, who is Neumann's nephew, at the family-owned firm and the fourth generation to run the company.
"The nice thing is you can give your opinion to something but you have not anymore to decide it and you have not the responsibility anymore," Neumann said.