Ernst Prost: Doer, rebel, visionary and, above all, a human
What do October 1, 1990 and February 22, 2022 have in common for LIQUI MOLY? They each mark a turning point with the German engine oil producer. After more than three decades of serving the people and the company, Managing Director Ernst Prost is now retiring.
"The field has been tilled. But over the past 31 years, we have plowed the company and the industry vigorously," says Ernst Prost looking back. "We", that is Ernst Prost and Günter Hiermaier. On October 1, 1990, they moved together from a car care product manufacturer located on the Danube upriver to what was then still a small company in Ulm. Ernst Prost began as Head of Sales and Marketing and Günter Hiermaier was employed as Retail Sales Manager Germany. “More than 30 years ago, he was my apprentice, which was the name of given to trainees at the time,” says Ernst Prost. “We were always together,” recalls the departing Managing Director.
Now the two are taking separate career paths. Günter Hiermaier, who has been the second Managing Director since 2018, will now lead the fortues of LIQUI MOLY’s on his own. "We still celebrated our pearl 30th wedding anniversary. But now it’s definitely over for me," says Ernst Prost with a wink. "The past 30 years have been strung together like pearls on a necklace. Each of them is a treasure trove of my life."
Ernst Prost and his team turned LIQUI MOLY around and transformed the small additives company into Germany’s most popular motor oil brand, which is active in 150 countries. In 1990, the company posted a turnover of around 15 million euros with 118 employees. At the end of 2021, this amounted to 733 million euros and 1008 employees.
By 1998, the trained mechanic Ernst Prost gradually bought company shares from the founding family and became managing partner. In this way, he saved the company from going out of business and secured dozens of jobs. The entry into the engine oil business provided the decisive boost to growth. "Actually, it was crazy to get into this business. Suddenly you’re a small fish in the shark basin. In competition with the largest companies in the world," says Ernst Prost of his decision at the time to expand the pure additive business on a broader footing. In 2006, the Meguin mineral oil plants in Saarlouis became a wholly owned subsidiary. This marked the final step towards becoming an independent engine oil manufacturer. In 2017, Ernst Prost sold his shares to the Würth Group, but remained employed as Managing Director.
Ernst Prost was the face of the brand. Initially, the popularity of the charismatic CEO was limited to the industry. But that was also about to change: At the height of the economic crisis in 2010, Ernst Prost opted for the first TV commercial in the company’s history. With the self-designed advert, he won not only the hearts of the public beyond the borders of Germany, but also the renowned EFFIE Silver advertising award in the automotive category. Numerous prizes and awards followed, among others for his social responsibility and his way of managing the company. Until the end, he remained true to his line, foregoing state subsidies and short-time work even during the hard Corona period. He even hired people and countered the crisis with investments worth millions – from on-board funds, as he says.
Prost took a stand not only for “his LIQUI MOLY” and the employees, but also against the dominance of the financial industry, for example, as well as for higher taxes for the rich and minimum wages. Media interest was aroused and has remained so to this day. Interviews in print publications, radio and television. According to Spiegel, Ernst Prost was “the entrepreneur with the most appearances on German talk shows” in 2011. And because the entrepreneur Ernst Prost is not a man of words, but of deeds, he founded a total of three charitable foundations with his private assets.
Ernst Prost: "They were tough but fulfilling years. Work is my lifeblood and LIQUI MOLY my life’s work. I know that I am in the best hands with my friend Günter Hiermaier and his team. Life is finite. And that’s why I’m finally looking forward to a phase of life that is no longer meticulously timed and determined externally, but offers freedom."
Pictures and stories
To mark his departure, a special edition of the LIQUI MOLY company magazine will be published, which you can read here.
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