Messe Friedrichshafen honored a personality who has made a special contribution to the outdoor industry. During OutDoor 2013, the European tradeshow for the outdoor industry, entrepreneur Albrecht von Dewitz was honored as the “OutDoor Celebrity of the Year 2013”.
Albrecht von Dewitz grew up as one of seven children in the Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. After completing an apprenticeship as an export merchant in Bremen, he studied business administration in Wilhelmshaven. As the head of the export department in a sporting goods company, Dewitz gathered his first professional experience before he took over as the managing director of a sports equipment manufacturing company on Lake Constance. In 1974, the mountaineering enthusiast made his hobby his career and, without investing any capital of his own, founded VAUDE in the nearby town of Tettnang.
It was Dewitz’s goal right from the very beginning to establish VAUDE as a full-range supplier and to offer all the products for the outdoor sector from a single source. VAUDE began with climbing hardware and a backpack collection of its own. Later, clothing, sleeping bags, tents and footwear were added to the product range, along with the market sectors for bicycles and water sports.
Today, VAUDE is one of Europe’s market leaders in the outdoor industry and an internationally active company: in addition to Edelrid, the German climbing rope specialist, other such companies as Grand Tent, the Spanish carabiner manufacturer, or Huade, one of the world’s leading backpack manufacturers in China, belong to the VAUDE Group.
As its founder, Albrecht von Dewitz has had a major impact on the medium-sized family-owned company. VAUDE stands for durability, commitment and reliability, as well as for environmental protection and sustainability: in 1994, for example, VAUDE set up its own recycling network and was the first sporting goods manufacturer to adopt the stringent Bluesign textile standard. In addition, VAUDE is the first outdoor company to be certified in the field of ecology.
Von Dewitz is married and has three daughters. Albrecht von Dewitz passed on his management duties in the company to his middle daughter, Antje von Dewitz, in 2006.
Albrecht von Dewitz was selected for this honor by an internationally leading group of trade journals and industry representatives: Markus Bötsch (Jack Wolfskin GmbH & Co KGAa, Germany), Jürg Buschor (Outdoor Guide Magazine, Switzerland), Klaus Haselböck (Land der Berge Magazin, Austria), Therese Iknoian (ADVENTURE NETWORK/ ThereseTranslates, USA), John Jansen (keen EMEA, Netherlands), Bernd Kullmann (Deuter Sport GmbH & Co. KG, Germany) and David Udberg (European Outdoor Group, Switzerland).
What the jury had to say:
“As a first-class entrepreneur, Albrecht von Dewitz and his company VAUDE lead by example in the outdoor world, promoting responsible growth as being the best way forward to develop a great company of the future. I have a lot of respect and admiration for their success in balancing their environmentally friendly approach with commercial business success. A key reason for their success is the fact that this has been part of their DNA from the very beginning when Albrecht founded the company.”
(keen EMEA, Netherlands)
“He is exactly like his handshake – strong, straightforward, no-nonsense. Albrecht von Dewitz is an institution in the outdoor industry, a dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur, spirited, innovative, eternally restless, demanding – a real outdoorsman by absolute conviction.”
(Deuter Sport GmbH & Co. KG, Germany)
“Albrecht has been one of the cornerstone people of the modern outdoor era in Europe. He founded his business in the 1970s when the outdoor industry was rapidly establishing itself and has grown and developed it ever since. He has led innovations in several areas for products that Vaude has developed and has also taken over and developed other brands within the Vaude stable. He was a founder of the move to what has become the modern OutDoor Show and was an important member of the EOG Board throughout recent years. He built his own factory in Vietnam and has been at the forefront in matters of quality and sustainability across the industry. Finally, he has built and prepared a strong succession management team to follow on after him.”
(European Outdoor Group (EOG), Switzerland).