故事 公司

“Maybach lives on in the minds of the staff ”

发帖 2009年3月27日Lucie Maluck, 图片拍摄者 mtu Archive

Interview with Irmgard Schmid-Maybach, granddaughter of Karl Maybach.
Friedrichshafen, Germany

When the ingenious engine designer Karl Maybach was left stranded by the side of a country road because his car had broken down, he couldn’t attempt to repair it himself. He only knew about engines on the drawing board and was no use with his hands when it came to practical work. That is one of the stories told by his daughter, Irmgard Schmid-Maybach, in an interview with mtu Report. She also relates how closely associated she still is with the company, that the ability to look forwards always was and remains one of its great strengths, and that much of the Maybachs is still to be found in the business today.

Your association with mtu is remarkable: you are the daughter of the famous engine designer Karl Maybach, you worked with him, subsequently represented the Maybach family as an mtu shareholder and member of the supervisory board and are now an honorary member of the supervisory board. How would you describe those different roles?

In my childhood, I had nothing whatever to do with Maybach-Motorenbau, as it was then. My father kept the business completely separate from our family life. We were only allowed to meet him at the factory gate very occasionally, and it was something very special when we did. So I can remember very clearly the first time I actually went into the factory. Shortly after the Second World War, I helped my father out as a driver and by looking after his correspondence. During that time, the connections with the business obviously became stronger. Then in 1957, I moved to America after I married, and I still live there now. But the association with mtu was never broken off and since 1984 I have represented my family on the supervisory board. And I have taken it very seriously and been very conscious of the responsibility. When we had to sell our shares in mtu in 2006, it looked as though, after such a long time, our connection with mtu would come to an end overnight. I was very sad about that but nevertheless stayed in contact with the management board. In 2007, I was appointed an honorary member of the mtu supervisory board. It is a nice way to stay in touch with the firm.

You have now lived in the USA for 52 years. Why did you decide to move the center of your life to a foreign country?
For love. My husband went to America as a doctor and I followed as soon as we were married. We ran the practice together right up until his death in 1984 – he as the doctor and I as his assistant. They were very happy and eventful years. But I still frequently flew back to Friedrichshafen nevertheless, to visit my family and to attend the supervisory board meetings.

You are still taking it upon yourself to make those long journeys from San Francisco to Friedrichshafen to follow the progress of the business. How strong are your emotional ties to the mtu of today?
Just as strong as they ever were, nothing has changed in that regard. Because the spirit within mtu is so very special and quite different from any other company. I have great respect and admiration for the way the workforce stick together and do their jobs. They shape the character of the company.

How would you judge the influence you are able to have on the company from a distance of more than 10,000 kilometers away?
Oh, my influence really is infinitesimal, I have no illusions about that. I do attend the supervisory board meetings and I can say what I think – and do so. But as an honorary member I have no influence over decisions. And I am simply too far away from the business, I wouldn’t presume to question the decisions of others.

For many years Irmgard Schmid-Maybach helped her father with his correspondence and as a driver for journeys between Garmisch and Friedrichshafen.

When the companies Maybach Mercedes Benz AG and M.A.N. Turbo GmbH were merged in 1969 to form MTU Friedrichshafen, the Maybach name disappeared from the trading name of the firm. So how much Maybach is there still in mtu?
A very great deal, I realize that every time I visit mtu. The spirit of my father is still there in the firm, he lives on inside the workforce. It is so good to see that so many families in Friedrichshafen have worked for the company for generations. Grandfather, father and son. On one of my most recent visits to mtu I met the son of one of my father’s drivers. That driver was practically one of the family, and now his son works for the firm too. It is so nice that the spirit of my father lives on in the minds of the staff in that way.

Your family is inseparably linked with the Maybach brand. How great is your involvement today?
I am very fortunate that two of my sons have continued the Maybach name in other ventures. My eldest son, Christoph, runs the Maybach vineyard in California’s Napa Valley – and he does so with the same attention to detail as his grandfather. Christoph wants to achieve the same level of excellence with his wines as Karl Maybach did with his cars. My second son, Ulrich, runs the Wilhelm & Karl Maybach Foundation, established in 2006, where I am also a member of the supervisory board. The principle behind the foundation is mentoring. Just as Gottlieb Daimler was a mentor to my grandfather, Wilhelm Maybach, and he in turn did the same for his son Karl, the aim of the foundation is to sponsor and develop especially gifted people. The first was a young doctor from South Africa who specialized in the treatment of AIDS. We were able to help him so that he can now spread his knowledge to young doctors across the whole of Africa. And then, of course, there is the Wilhelm Maybach Prize in Heilbronn and the Karl Maybach Prize in Friedrichshafen, which were endowed by my family.

“Karl and Wilhelm Maybach were visionary pioneers,” emphasizes Irmgard Schmid-Maybach. She is the daughter of Karl Maybach, founder of Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH, the company that was to become mtu.

Even since the company became stock-market listed and the “old mtu” was restructured, you have remained one of the most important personalities at mtu, as is shown by your honorary membership of the MTU Friedrichshafen supervisory board. What do you think are the strengths of the company?
Two things occur to me straightaway: firstly, the quality of the engines is absolutely the first priority, and that is very important. But I am also very impressed by the way the company always looks to the future. And there again, it is clear that the spirit of my father and grandfather is still alive. For them the most important thing was always to look ahead. That is why we never had much money. What money there was, they both always invested in development. They never just made cars or engines, they always looked for potential improvements to be able to make perfect products. And evidence that the presentday company, Tognum, is looking to the future too can be seen in the current developments such as with the fuel cell. It is undoubtedly an excellent option for distributed energy generation.

Is that where you see the future for mtu?
The greater focus on distributed energy generation is a point worth emphasizing as it is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of future planning. Be it with the fuel cell or gas engines. But the diesel engine will remain a key product. The continuing technological advancement, with the use of exhaust treatment for instance, means that the company will always have the right answers to the increasingly stringent emission restrictions, I am certain of that.

Irmgard Schmid-Maybach remembers her famous grandfather – the automobile pioneer Wilhelm Maybach – most of all as a wonderful grandpa (pictured here in 1926).

Finally, a very personal question: both your grandfather, Wilhelm Maybach, and your father, Karl Maybach, are among the greatest and most important pioneers of engine design. Both were undoubtedly passionate about engineering. But what in particular distinguished the two of them?
I only knew my grandfather Wilhelm Maybach as the wonderful grandfather that I adored as a child. We often visited him at the weekend and it was always very special. My father, too, I remember most of all as a wonderful father to the family who kept away the business from us for a long time. Only after the Second World War, when we moved away from Friedrichshafen and lived in Wangen and then Garmisch, did my father start to talk to us about the business. Sometimes for hours on end in the evenings. He had an enormous sense of responsibility towards his employees, I remember that very clearly. And although he had great trust in them, at the same time he always wanted to know exactly what was going on. He never signed a letter without having read what was in it and having properly understood it. I still remember one amusing anecdote. It shows that my father was literally no good with his hands. One time when I was driving him, my car broke down on a country road. Of course, I hoped that, as an engine designer, he would be able to repair the engine straightaway. But he just said, “Now if we had this problem on paper, I could help you out in a flash. But it’s no good asking me to look under the bonnet.”

What are your personal expectations of the centenary year?
I hope that the characters of Wilhelm and Karl Maybach are honored as they really were: visionary pioneers with an enormous sense of responsibility.

The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.



All because of a storm

Lucie Maluck

mtu's history goes back to 1909, when it began building engines for airships.