The Lechler Foundation has adopted the motto “Doing good brings us together” for its work. Is that also an appropriate way of describing the connection between the Lechler Foundation and ElringKlinger?
WOLF — Absolutely. At ElringKlinger we feel we have an obligation to uphold certain values that go back to the philosophy of our founder Paul Lechler. In fact, those values can be found to this day in our guiding principles. Although ElringKlinger is now a listed company and has to meet capital market requirements, we still retain something of the character of a family business.
HAUSWIRTH — The motto also reflects Paul Lechler’s belief in charitable work and the Lechler family’s close links to Christianity. Paul Lechler once said: “Faith must not simply be a matter of ideology; it must be lived out through our actions.” For me, that principle is every bit as relevant today.
What is the purpose of the Foundation, and what are the main areas in which it provides support?
HAUSWIRTH — One of the Foundation’s main objectives is to draw the attention of policymakers to social issues that currently need greater attention. Traditionally, the support we offer is directed at young people, the old, and those who are disabled. In recent years, for example, the Lechler Foundation has been particularly active in the field of inclusion. Between 2008 and 2014 it donated a total of six million euros for beacon projects in this area. We have also conducted studies of the projects supported by the foundation as a way of demonstrating to policymakers that inclusion is possible. Last but not least, it was also due, in part, to our work in this area that the federal state of Baden-Württemberg has now established an annual budget for measures to improve social inclusion.
WOLF — Inclusion is certainly an important issue. ElringKlinger works with the BruderhausDiakonie Center to create long-term jobs for people with disabilities. On account of our company background, we believe we have an obligation to demonstrate social responsibility and help bring about greater social inclusion. In my view, that should be one of the main goals of all business activity. As well as striving to make a profit, companies should consider how they can get involved in cultural, social, and environmental issues. This really ought to form part of a more holistic business philosophy. Paul Lechler was an early pioneer of that approach.
HAUSWIRTH — I would love to see more companies embracing the philosophy pioneered by Paul Lechler and fortunately maintained by ElringKlinger.
A large proportion of the funds raised by the Foundation are currently being used for conversion work at the Paul Lechler Hospital in Tübingen. Why was a new building necessary?
HAUSWIRTH — The Paul Lechler Hospital goes back nearly a hundred years. It started off as a convalescent home for people who came back from missionary work with a tropical disease. The hospital has established a very good reputation over the years in the field of tropical medicine. The new building was needed to ensure that the hospital continues to meet the latest operating standards. It will house a large geriatric department and a palliative care center – another area in which the hospital enjoys an excellent reputation.
WOLF — It’s worth pointing out that the area of tropical medicine is now much less dominant than it was, because many diseases can now be avoided with the help of preventive medical techniques. By contrast, there is a greater focus on palliative medicine, and this will be one of the main activities in the new building.