Duel for the trigema legacy: wolfgang junior or bonita – only one of the two will succeed business legend wolfgang grupp
- Trigema boss wolfgang grupp celebrated his 79th birthday in april. Birthday. The entrepreneur is fit, but must soon clarify his successor.
- The company’s business is to be taken over by one of his children: bonita or wolfgang grupp junior.
- Both children enjoyed an elite education at a boarding school and university in london. In the company, they are currently active in e-commerce and distribution.
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The king of the small town of burladingen in the swabian alb is neither a man from a noble family steeped in tradition, nor does he hold political office in the region. The king of burladingen is wolfgang grupp: textile millionaire and autocrat in person. The head of trigema generates sales in the triple-digit millions with his company and is one of the last manufacturers to produce exclusively in germany.
On 4. wolfgang grupp celebrated his 79th birthday in april. Birthday. His successor is already in place – at least in part. His offspring are to take over: bonita and wolfgang grupp junior. Only which of the two is to take the helm of the company has not yet been decided. A competitive situation that is not without risk for the family’s prosperity and the well-being of the company.
Grupp is a man who acquired the mind of a managing director as a child. His grandfather josef mayer founded the jersey factory gebruder mayer – or trigema for short – with his brother eugen in burladingen in 1919. He has been managing director of the family business since 1969, taking over the seat from his father franz.
At the time, the company was in anything but good shape. However, grupp cleaned up its act, eliminated millions in liabilities and increased sales to around 100 million euros and the number of employees to 1.200. the entrepreneur and his company became particularly well known through television commercials featuring a chimpanzee. His fortune is estimated at 100 million euros.
Who will take over from the head of trigema??
The company has always been at the center of the family’s activities. That’s how wolfgang learned it, and that’s how he passed it on to his two children. With them and his wife elisabeth, who is 24 years younger, grupp lives directly across the street from the trigema factory in his estate. Always close to the action.
For him, the succession is clear: "I’m leading trigema in the third generation. I would certainly have set the wrong example if my children didn’t want to continue the business. I pass it on to my children, of course. if my children didn’t want to inherit, we would certainly have failed, because parents are the first role models for children," grupp once said in an interview with "focus.
At that time there was still talk of both children. In the meantime, grupp has specified its requirements for the successor. "children should love each other for life and not argue for life. That’s why only one child should get the company. Which one, I do not know yet. That depends on which partners they find, whom they marry and how they shape their lives in the future," he replied in a video report for "SWR".
But who is to follow in their father’s big footsteps?? His 32-year-old daughter Bonita is active in the company’s e-commerce business. Son wolfgang junior is two years younger and works in sales. Both were integrated into trigema from the beginning and will carry a great burden in the future. This raises the question of whether at least one of the siblings doesn’t want all this at all and would like to realize his own potential somewhere else. Bonita answers the question with a simple statement: "we don’t know it any other way. My father was also born into the company."
The company is the family and the family is the company. That’s how it’s always been with the grupps, and that’s how it is in the fourth generation, too. It is not yet possible to predict when the change at the top will take place. Grupp is still very fit for his age and plays sports regularly. Only one thing is certain: the change will come.
Both children seem to be suitable – although the public doesn’t learn much about the group’s successors. Their father’s face still stands for the entire company.
A life for the family business
The resumes of bonita and wolfgang grupp junior read very similarly. After fourth grade, they both went to an English-language boarding school in switzerland, one after the other. father grupp let himself the elite education of his children up to 160.000 euros a year. After school, Bonita studied business administration in London. Her brother did the same and also went to the British metropolis to study business and politics. wolfgang grupp also studied business administration.
Since 2013 bonita lives again with her parents on the property, opposite the factory. Her brother wolfgang followed five months later. Since then they are firmly anchored in the company again. Bonita stands out above all for her commitment to digitalization. companions say about her in an article in "wirtschafts woche" that she has a strong character and the ability to integrate and motivate other people. She is a perfectionist, just like her father.
wolfgang is also very organized and always gives one hundred percent, they say. Both look up to their father. He also gives them the corresponding freedom on the estate. Friends are allowed to drop by for parties, the car pool is stocked with luxury cars. But his children are no longer teenagers and may soon have to take responsibility for more than 1,000 children.200 employees and their families take over.
Won’t that create a kind of competition between the siblings?? No, says Bonita in an interview with the "intes akademie fur familienunternehmen" (intes academy for Family Businesses). "on the contrary. My mother has also been working passionately in the company for 25 years. We have had very good experiences with family members being involved in the project. We make a good team," says the 32-year-old.
Wolfgang junior agrees with her on this point: "We siblings also get along very well and exchange ideas all the time. Everyone tries to do a good job every day. Who will own the company in the end is of secondary importance."
It remains to be seen whether the succession will go so smoothly. For the time being, the decision lies with father wolfgang. And the king of burladingen will think very carefully about who will take over his empire.
This article appeared in business insider back in may 2021. It has now been rechecked and updated.