GERMANY – Senator h. c. Peter Schaufler, the CEO and owner of Bitzer passed away unexpectedly in Salzburg yesterday at the age of 74. Senator Schaufler managed Bitzer for 36 years and oversaw the growth of the company to become the world’s largest independent manufacturer of refrigeration compressors.
Senator Schaufler took the helm of Bitzer in 1979 and insisted upon the company gaining an international focus. This international focus helped turn the Swabian company into a global player and an innovator in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector. Bitzer is now 50 times the size it was when Senator Schaufler took charge in 1979, with 3,400 employees in more than 90 countries and a declared turnover of 657 million euros. Among many of his brave decisions and achievements was the founding of a joint venture with a Chinese company in Beijing in 1994 which was a farsighted and enlightened step at that time.
Senator Schaufler also founded the Schaufler Foundation in 2005 to encourage entrepreneurship, science, research and art. The Foundation is also the main sponsor of the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences’ Valerius Füner Prize, which is awarded to recognise the outstanding achievements of mechanical engineering students in the areas of refrigeration, air conditioning and environmental technology. The Schaufler Foundation also provides grants and support to students at the University of Dresden, the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences via the German government’s Deutschlandstipendium (Germany Scholarship). Senator Schaufler was also keen to help further scientific research in the field of refrigeration and air conditioning technology and to this end he created the Bitzer Chair of Refrigeration, Cryogenics and Compressor Technology at the TU Dresden in 2007.
Senator Schaufler and his wife were also patrons of the arts and made generous donations to welfare institutions and gave the public access to their extensive art collection comprising more than 3,000 pieces at the Schauwerk Sindelfingen from 2010. In that same year Senator h. c. Schaufler was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany to recognise his contributions to the fields of culture and science.
Other awards and honours bestowed on Senator Schaufler included the 2014 Gründerpreis Baden-Württemberg for company founders, in recognition of his life’s work, which was presented by the region’s Minister for Economic Affairs Dr Nils Schmid.