STUTTGART, Germany – Last Friday the top of the international bike industry gathered at Paul Lange & CO KG in Stuttgart. Most prominent guests were the top managers of Shimano. They all came to celebrate with CEO Bernhard Lange (photo) and his sister Barbara Schattmaier (CFO) the 60th anniversary of the company that has grown into much more than Shimano’s first distributor in Europe.
However, Bernard Lange made no secret of the fact that Shimano has played an important role in the history of his company as well as in his personal life. More than 25 years ago he worked for months at the Shimano HQ in Osaka, Japan as a trainee where the current Chairman Yoshi Shimano was his trainer.
Looking back Bernhard Lange said in his speech to the more than 300 guests: “In 1967 the contract between Shimano Inc. and Paul Lange & Co. was signed. At that time we became the general agent for Shimano in Germany and Austria. In don’t think anyone in our company could ever imagine how strongly our Paul Lange team would develop in the following decades.”
What next to the Shimano contract also played a vital role in the history of Paul Lange, was the drop of the Iron Curtain and the fall of communism in all of the Eastern European countries. Bernard Lange: “I saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, which I experienced purely by coincidence. I saw it as an opportunity to internationalize our company in an Eastern direction.
In 1990 we exhibited Shimano for the first time at a trade fair in Prague. The first Paul Lange subsidiary was established in Prague in 1991. Following the Czechoslovakia division we set up our company in Slovakia while Paul Lange France was established together with RST. In 2001 we took over Thalinger in Austria and its fully owned subsidiary Velotrade in Hungary. The Shimano agency in Switzerland followed in 2003 with the participation of the company Fuchs Movesa and in April 2004 we registered Paul Lange & Co Ukraine in Kiev. Our company is now aligned strategically on an international level.”
Bernhard Lange concluded his speech by thanking the over 400 employees of the Paul Lange Group and said that he with his team is looking forward to the next sixty years with complete confidence.