The foundation

The history of the MAHLE FOUNDATION

"It is important to achieve fraternity – on a voluntary basis – and overcome the egotism of the individual and the organisation." Dr. Ernst Mahle in his speech on the 50th anniversary of the MAHLE Group

Economic success and social responsibility

The MAHLE FOUNDATION was established by the founders of the corporate group with the same name. This took its beginnings in 1920 when Hermann Mahle joined the company "Versuchsbau Hellmuth Hirth" in Stuttgart. Two years later Ernst Mahle also joined the business, and another ten years later the brothers finally became the sole shareholders of the company. In 1938 they renamed the company MAHLE KG and introduced the logo which is still used today as the company sign. In the following years the company grew steadily thanks to numerous technical innovations.

Inspired by the lectures of the anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner on social, economic and societal issues concerning the handling and use of capital, Hermann and Dr. Ernst Mahle decided in 1964 to transfer their shares in the three MAHLE companies that existed at the time to a non-profit-making foundation. MAHLE GmbH, in which the three companies were finally brought together, has since then been 99.9 per cent owned by the non-profit firm MAHLE FOUNDATION GmbH. One aim of the foundation's establishment was to remove the ownership of the company from the process of succession. Continuity in the company's management was to be guaranteed in order to promote the economically stable development of the company worldwide. Moderate but at the same stable profit distribution to the MAHLE FOUNDATION was aimed at providing the company with the opportunity to receive significant investments and further growth. At the same time, sustainable project work of the Foundation was to be secured.

The MAHLE FOUNDATION was assigned the task of pursuing non-profit-making projects and initiatives by promoting health care, youth welfare, education, adult and vocational education, as well as science and research. In particular, innovative projects which worked on the basis of anthroposophy were to be supported. From the perspective of the founders the purpose of this was to make important social and societal impulses possible which reached far into the future.

Background to the formation of the MAHLE FOUNDATION

A contribution to a new and social ownership structure of industrial enterprises

It was a groundbreaking encounter: in 1919, the Mahle brothers became acquainted with Dr. Rudolf Steiner at public lectures at the Gustav-Siegle House in Stuttgart. The founder of the anthroposophy movement was committed to restructuring the ownership of production resources in order to eliminate the conflict between capital and labour. However, unlike Karl Marx, Steiner categorically rejected the nationalisation of production resources. His guiding principle was the break-up of the state into a free spiritual life, an associative economic life and a legal life that maintained the principle of equality. Hermann and Dr. Ernst Mahle were deeply impressed by the personality of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. In regular working groups and meetings they met entrepreneurs from small and large companies that were also associated with anthroposophy and Steiner's social ideas.

The entrepreneurial activities of Hermann and Dr. Ernst Mahle were closely and consistently associated with social, spiritual and religious values. This thinking manifested itself in particular in the objective of setting up a foundation. The Mahle brothers founded the MAHLE Foundation in Stuttgart in December 1964. They renounced most of their personal property and transferred 99.9 per cent of their shares in the three MAHLE companies, which were subsequently merged to form MAHLE GmbH, to the firm MAHLE-FOUNDATION GmbH, and the remaining 0.1 per cent to MABEG Beteiligungen GmbH (today MABEG - Verein zur Förderung und Beratung der MAHLE Gruppe e.V. ("Association for Promoting and Advising the MAHLE Group")), which also received the sole voting right of the company. The Foundation began with its funding work in the year 1965.

History of the MAHLE Group

With a pioneering spirit and combined expertise: from the workshop to the global commercial business

It was the birth of today's MAHLE Group: In December 1920 Hermann Mahle took over his duties as a management assistant at the firm Hirth Versuchsbau, which developed and produced two-stroke engines in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. In 1922 he was followed there by his brother Ernst, who had completed his studies at the Technical University in Stuttgart as an engineer. Eleven years later the brothers became equal sole shareholders in the firm Elektronmetall GmbH, which developed from Hirth Versuchsbau. This laid the foundation stone for the subsequent success of the MAHLE Group.

Ernst Mahle - a technical genius - developed many patents and new manufacturing processes. In conjunction with the entrepreneurial skills of his brother Hermann, this combined expertise was the foundation for the successful development of the company. For what began in December 1920 in a small workshop with seven employees, developed within a period of twelve years into a cutting-edge industrial company with 200 employees. The focus was on the question of whether the aluminium pistons favoured by Dr. Ernst Mahle could displace the grey cast iron piston that had been the standard up to that time. New alloys and the invention of the ring carrier piston by Ernst Mahle finally produced the breakthrough: the triumph of the light metal piston began. By the early 1930s three further business segments were created in addition to the production of pistons: filters, die casting and aircraft wheels.

With its unique systems expertise in the areas of engine systems, filtration, electrics/mechatronics and thermal management, MAHLE ranks among the top 3 systems suppliers in the automotive sector worldwide. MAHLE has approximately 66,000 employees at over 150 locations. In 2014 the Group achieved a total turnover of 10 billion euros.