Faber-Castell: Making ordinary things, extraordinarily well

When Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell took up his inheritance of the world’s largest pencil empire in 1978, he became the eighth generation of a highly successful entrepreneurial dynasty. Initially, the former investment banker felt little desire to take on the task. But then he got down to the job with growing interest, using his entrepreneurial acumen to create a premium global brand that is now represented in more than 100 countries — with a range comprising more than 2,000 writing, drawing and creative design products for children, artists, professionals and lovers of high-quality writing implements. Throughout, he has been guided by the values of his ancestors.

When Lothar von Faber handed his business interests over to his son Wilhelm in 1877, he also gave him important advice for his life and work. His aim should be: “to make himself ever more useful, to develop himself ever more effectively and to shape his life ever more aesthetically.” He should do everything that is “right, good and beautiful,” while safeguarding as the highest good the “individual liberty” of each and every worker, employee and representative of the company. This fatherly guidance was essentially a set of instructions for managing his stationery business. In addition to constantly striving to improve products in accordance with the principle of “many small steps add up to one giant step,” Lothar von Faber aimed at pursuing “decent” entrepreneurship, encompassing virtues such as loyalty and social responsibility.

Appreciating long-term employees and endeavoring to keep them on, even when times are tough: these are approaches characteristic of current company head Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. This approach helps to preserve valuable knowledge for the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-cased pencils and it secures the company’s long-term stability and continuity. “No matter how brilliant entrepreneurs are, they cannot succeed on their own,” says the Count. “What is needed is a dedicated team that identifies wholeheartedly with the company, each of whose members sets aside their own desire to stand out in favor of shared objectives.”

To continue reading the full story of the Faber-Castell family business, click here

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