Dr.-Ing. E.h. Thomas Diehl, Shareholder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Diehl Stiftung & Co. KG, died on April 16, 2017 aged 66.
Thomas Diehl was the third and youngest son of Karl Diehl. In recent decades, the Diehl company has been decisively shaped and developed by him, together with his brothers Werner and Peter. As tasks were shared within the family, he took charge of operations of the family-owned Diehl company as President and CEO, making it a globally active enterprise on the basis of his father's heritage. Some years ago, Mr. Thomas Diehl – like his brother Peter – passed the vast majority of his company shares to his three children.
Thomas Diehl was born in Buenos Aires/Argentina on March 1, 1951 as son of Karl Diehl and Irmgard Diehl, née Schoedel. After various internships at General Motors and Siemens in Argentina, Thomas Diehl, like his father before, decided on a technical branch of study. He graduated in Industrial Engineering and Business Administration in the field of mechanical engineering. At his father's wish, he subsequently joined the Diehl company in 1976, working for four years at the then subsidiary Diehl Junghans Uhren in Schramberg. During that period, he managed Junghans' entry into radio technology so that the company later became again one of Europe's leading watch manufacturers. In 1981, he returned to the Nürnberg-based headquarters to found subsidiaries in the U.S. and Singapore, which he managed from Nürnberg. In 1983, he changed over to the then ammunition division where he became head of research and development. In 1988, he was appointed as the company's managing director in charge of technology. In 1993, he additionally took charge of operations as chairman of the management of Diehl GmbH & Co. KG. Since the company was turned into Diehl Stiftung at the beginning of 1998, he headed the corporate group as President and Chief Executive Officer.When Thomas Diehl became chairman of the management in 1993, the company's defence activities were going through a phase of dramatic adjustments due to the fundamental political changes after the end of the former East-West conflict. The group's broadly diversified product range and a high degree of corporate-policy flexibility facilitated consolidation. Under his leadership, a process of focusing on the company's core capabilities began which comprised the sale of subsidiaries, which did not fit in with the company's business portfolio in the long term, as well as the selective acquisition and new foundation of companies at home and abroad, especially in the Aerosystems and Metering segments which had been identified as growth fields. This was accompanied by a clear concentration of all activities in the corporate divisions Metall, Controls, Defence, Aerosystems and Metering. The corporate group currently generates annual sales of approx. 3.4 billion euros with 16,000 employees.
Thomas Diehl saw himself as a family entrepreneur who always stood behind Germany as a location for industry and was committed to the company's Franconian roots. His far-reaching, cross-party contacts with politicians and European companies made him a valued business partner whose opinion was of great importance.
Mr. Diehl was also active beyond the Diehl company, in entrepreneurial and sociopolitical terms. As Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Bavarian State Trade Agency (LGA), he was in overall charge of the takeover of the LGA by TÜV Rheinland so that this traditional Bavarian institution could be maintained and secured in the economically larger association. He was member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Traffic and Technology, member of the University Council of the Georg-Simon-Ohm-Fachhochschule and chairman of the supporting association of the Bavarian laser center in Erlangen.
In recognition of his commitment, Mr. Diehl was awarded the Order of Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany (1997); he was given an honorary doctorate by the Technical Faculty of Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (1999)¸he was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit (2005) and made knight of the French Legion of Honor (2009).
Together with his brothers, Thomas Diehl has successfully developed the heritage of his parents and grandparents.
The company will miss his strong leadership, his farsightedness and his excellent entrepreneurial expertise. We will honor his memory.