3/27/2013

Georg W. Claussen, Honorary Chairman of Beiersdorf, Dies in Hamburg at 100

  • The grand nephew of Dr. Oscar Troplowitz guided Beiersdorf’s history of success with leadership, vision and human kindness for one-third of a century
  • As CEO and Head of the Supervisory Board he laid the foundation for the company’s successful development
  • The Hamburg-born Claussen was an important German benefactor and patron

Georg W. Claussen

Hamburg, (3.27.2013) – Georg W. Claussen, the longtime CEO, Head of the Supervisory Board and Honorary Chairman of Beiersdorf AG, died on March 21st surrounded by his family in Hamburg at the age of 100. Georg W. Claussen was an extraordinary German entrepreneur and luminary. He embodied the values of Beiersdorf like no other and represented continuity and innovation, successful brand management and entrepreneurial responsibility. “For three-quarters of a century, Claussen confidently represented a family company that took on the existential challenges of the continuously changing business environment, always motivating and reminding us of the need to be future-orientated,” said Head of the Supervisory Board Prof. Dr. Reinhard Pöllath. “We will always be indebted to his standard and his legacy.” And CEO Stefan F. Heidenreich added: “We have lost a towering businessman and luminary. Georg W. Claussen has left a lasting mark on Beiersdorf and what he achieved laid the foundation for today’s success. We stand humbly before his absence today with a great respect. Our sympathies go out to his family.”

In the Tradition of Dr. Oscar Troplowitz

During his life, the Hamburg-born Claussen had a special place in his heart not only for the company and its brands, but also for people. In all his business decisions he always kept Beiersdorf employees in mind. He lived consistent business responsibility; and he did so without wasting many words about it. As an important German patron he generously supported art, culture, science and social institutions and services – and not just in his home city of Hamburg. He also continued the family tradition that his great uncle, Dr. Oscar Troplowitz started over 120 years ago. Troplowitz, who invented NIVEA Creme in 1911, was an innovative businessman and a humble philanthropist thoroughly engaged in social policy.

The Close Bond Between Claussen and Beiersdorf

Georg W. Claussen was born on June 5th, 1912, the grand nephew of company owner, Dr. Oscar Troplowitz, in Hamburg-Eppendorf. After school he studied business at the Swiss company, Doetsch-Grether, and the American chemical company, Petrolagar Lab John Wyett, in Great Britain. In 1938 he came to Beiersdorf as a young man, received power of attorney in 1948 and in 1952 became an acting and then a full member of the Board of Beiersdorf AG. After the death of his father Carl Claussen, he became the Speaker of the Board in 1954 and CEO in 1957. In these 22 years that he was active at the top of the company, he built Beiersdorf into an international company. Sales during this time grew nearly thirtyfold. 

Leadership, Vision and Human Kindness

The name Claussen is associated with the introduction of brand classics like 8x4, atrix and ph5 Eucerin as well as the repurchasing of the rights to NIVEA brands that in many countries were confiscated during the Second World War and sold to other companies. In addition, in the 1970s Claussen fundamentally restructured Beiersdorf and laid the foundation for its further success. He adapted the sales structure to the new conditions that resulted from the abolition of retail price maintenance and distribution restraints. He also organized the company into independently acting divisions. But the work he did was always characterized by deft entrepreneurial skills and human warmth. For the father of four it wasn’t even a question that the employees who lost their jobs as a result of the restructuring would receive new positions in the company. Beiersdorf employees who worked closely with him noted his kind presence, his humble demeanor and his agreeable and open conversational style. Even in his early years he became a father figure to many. 

A Conversation Partner for Board Members and Employees Alike

After 22 years on the Board, Georg W. Claussen moved to the Supervisory Board in 1979 where he sat as Chairman until 1987. From 1989 on he was Honorary Chairman of the Board. All together, Claussen stood at the podium for 58 Annual General Meetings – certainly a one-of-a-kind record in the German business. The “Old Gentleman” as he was called out of love and respect by Beiersdorf employees, had a close bond with the company right up to the end. Even in his 100th year he regularly came to his office on Unnastraße. 

A Self-evident Commitment to the Community

Georg W. Claussen always thought it was a self-evident truth that one should do good in word and in deed – but also in the form of generous donations – to serve the greater community. Beyond Beiersdorf Claussen was engaged with numerous institutions, for example, the Chamber of Commerce of Hamburg where he was the Vice President until 1987. He was also a Board Member of the Industrial Association Hamburg, a member of the Executive Board of the Association of Chemical Industries (VCI), Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Advancement of Hamburg Art Collections, a member of the Historical Preservation Council of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Board Member of the Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany, just to name a few of his positions. 

Numerous Awards for Social Engagement

In 1982, on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Beiersdorf AG, he founded the Claussen-Simon-Foundation, which above all supports scientifically and technically gifted young people. For over 60 years he was a member of the Rotary Club and was an honorary member of many boards right up until the end. His social engagement was recognized with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Richard Merton Badge of Honor of the Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany and the Verfassungsportugaleser in Gold from the Hanseatic City of Hamburg to name a few. 

The Entire Company Mourns

With the death of Georg W. Claussen the company loses not only an extraordinary public figure, but also a great human. Claussen was honored, respected and loved by Beiersdorf employees. Whoever met him was impressed by his power and energy, his enormous self-discipline and not least of all, his curiosity and zest for life that he maintained for 100 years. Beiersdorf will miss him and will carry on the values he embodied into the future

Press Contact

Inken Hollmann-Peters
Vice President Corporate Communications & Sustainability

Beiersdorf AG
Unnastrasse 48
20245 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 40 - 4909 2001

Email: cc@beiersdorf.com