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Competence and vision: Knuffinke retiring from NAUE

News | December 20, 2017 | By:

Thomas Knuffinke. Photograph courtesy of NAUE GmbH & Co. KG

After nearly 27 years, Thomas Knuffinke is retiring from the senior management team of NAUE GmbH & Co. KG at the end of this year.

NAUE News reported the retirement of senior manager Thomas Knuffinke in their December 2017 issue.

After successfully completing his studies in business administration, Knuffinke started his career in 1981 with the auditors TREUVERKEHR (now KPMG) in Bielefeld, West Germany. Three years later he qualified as a tax consultant and after a further three years was appointed qualified auditor and authorized company signatory. His contact to NAUE dated back to the early 1980s, when Knuffinke, then an audit assistant, was involved with the former E.A.H. NAUE GmbH & Co. KG. Later, in his role as audit manager, he audited NAUE Fasertechnik GmbH & Co. KG, which became legally autonomous in 1984. In a counselling discussion with the owners, Helmut and Friedrich Wilhelm Naue, and Georg Heerten, then managing director, he suggested that the rapidly expanding NAUE Fasertechnik required a commercial director. When he made this suggestion, he had no idea that he would soon receive a call from the NAUE brothers asking him whether he could imagine taking on responsibility for the commercial management of NAUE Fasertechnik. Both parties had known each other for many years, and the relationship was characterized by a great deal of trust. The NAUE brothers had been impressed not only by his in-depth expertise, but also by his pragmatic approach to problems and their solutions.

In 1991 Knuffinke joined NAUE Fasertechnik as commercial director. From the outset, his contract of employment included a 10% share-purchase option. He took advantage of this option in 1996 and thus became, alongside Georg Heerten, managing partner of NAUE Fasertechnik. Together, the managing partners were instrumental in the development and expansion of NAUE Fasertechnik. The major milestones were the acquisition and restructuring of the facility in Adorf, Germany, where Secugrid® reinforcing geogrids have been successfully manufactured since 1998. The purchase of the ITB Insulation company for Tunnels and Buildings mbH in Tönisberg, Germany, secured access to the business of geomembrane production and installation. Global sales of Bentofix® products were driven by joint-venture companies in Canada and Australia. And the establishment of Bauberatung Geokunststoffe GmbH & Co. KG in 1998 achieved the strategic objective of being able to offer the entire range of geosynthetic services, from consulting through production to installation. The founding of NAUE Asia Sdn.Bhd in Malaysia in 2011 marked the start of the first wholly owned production subsidiary.

Anyone who has worked with Knuffinke knows that every action is not only planned, but also thought through to its conclusion—including any tax implications and consequences for the individual or group financial accounts. Since 2010, as the only external shareholder among the NAUE partners, his professional and, in every respect, unbiased opinion has always been in demand and appreciated. As a cost-conscious businessman, he has always followed the motto “a good horse only just clears the jump.” His work philosophy is based on the principle of the “respectable businessman” and is characterized by a strong sense of responsibility for the company, for society and for the environment. And if, on occasion, Knuffinke is not completely down-to-earth on the job, he also is not in his free time. Since 2000 he has held a private pilot’s license and enjoys flying as a compensation to his business activities. But even in the air he remembers the company, and sometimes overflies our sites and inspects inventories from a bird’s-eye perspective.

Knuffinke originally intended to retire from active management at the age of 60. At the shareholders’ request, he postponed his departure date to be able to provide close support to a large-scale relocation of NAUE’s administrative headquarters from Tönisberg to Espelkamp-Fiestel, Germany. Now that this project has been successfully completed, the time is right to say goodbye. His successor in top management, Ralph-Friedrich Peter, has already been active in the company for over a year and is thus completely integrated.

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