Zeppelin names successor to Peter Gerstmann

Zeppelin Group has announced that Matthias Benz, the current managing director of Raufoss Technology, will succeed its long-serving senior executive Peter Gerstmann as chairman of the management board on 1 July.

Benz takes up the senior management post at Caterpillar dealer Zeppelin after a successful career at ZF and more recently at Neuman Aluminium/Raunfoss, a manufacturer of aluminium components for automotive and industrial applications.

Group pohoto of senior executives at Zeppelin Group. (Photo: Zeppelin) From left: Heribert Hierholzer (vice chairman supervisory board, Zeppelin), Peter Gerstmann (chairman of management board), Matthias Benz (incoming chairman of management board ), Andreas Brand (chairman supervisory board and mayor of Friedrichshafen). (Photo: Zeppelin)

He will succeed Gerstmann who has been chairman of the management board since 2010 and has worked for Zeppelin for 24 years. Gerstmann had informed the supervisory board that he would not be available for a further appointment after 15 years as CEO.

“We are delighted that we have been able to appoint Matthias Benz as Peter Gerstmann’s successor,” said Andreas Brand, who is chairman of Zeppelin’s supervisory board, mayor of Friedrichshafen and representative of the shareholder Zeppelin Foundation.

“Matthias Benz has many years of national and international management experience and faces entrepreneurial challenges in a strategic, focused and decisive manner - and always manages to take his team with him.”

Benz said; “Peter Gerstmann is passing on an excellent, committed and motivated team to me. I am very much looking forward to my new role and would like to thank the supervisory board for the trust they have placed in me.”

Zeppelin is one of the largest Caterpillar dealers in the world, covering Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It also owns Zeppelin Rental, a major equipment rental business in Europe, as well as power systems and plant engineering divisions. It had revenues of €3.8 billion in 2022.

At ZF, Benz took on management responsibility early on in various national and international positions. He was CFO at ZF North American Operations, managing director of ZF Services, a member of the executive board of ZF Marine, and executive vice president sales and customer development at ZF in Germany.

Since 2020 he has been managing director of Neuman Aluminium/Raufoss Technology and a member of the top management level of CAG-Holding, an owner-managed company.

Outgoing CEO Peter Gerstmann said he was leaving at a time of economic and geopolitical upheaval; “With a view to my successor, our management team and the committed employees throughout the Group, our company has proven its resilience in all crises and the course has been set very well.”

Gerstmann will be available to advise and support his successor and the supervisory board until the end of the year.

‘Debt of gratitude’
Andreas Brand, chairman of Zeppelin’s supervisory board, added; “It is still too early to say goodbye, but we owe Peter Gerstmann a great debt of gratitude. During his time, the Zeppelin Group has developed enormously and above all successfully in both the industrial and commercial sectors.

“Peter Gerstmann shaped the Zeppelin Group into an extraordinarily successful and broadly diversified company. For the owners Zeppelin Foundation and Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, he impressively increased the value of the company. Peter Gerstmann is handing over a financially stable and profitable company.

“Over all the decades he has been part of the Zeppelin Group, Peter Gerstmann has always remained a person, approachable, present, listening, team-oriented and decisive for the people of Zeppelin, the supervisory board and me.”

Group sales rose from around €2 billion in 2010 to €3.8 billion in 2022. In 2010, there were around 6,000 employees worldwide, and now has more than 10,000 employees in 26 countries.

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