Name of the provider / Family business
From car trading to mobility of the future and charity
Professional sector and company size
Car trade, mobility services, e-mobility, tires, car equipment with about 80 employees
Woman in family business, finances, family issues, succession
Link to more information
The company was founded by Josef Lehr and is now in its fourth generation. A family business that spans now over 4 generations is remarkable. The spirit of innovation with respect for the challenge of combining family with business is a constant value for all generations in the Lehr family. Good family governance and a clear vision of company development from generation to generation are also typical for the Lehr family. This can be seen looking into the history of the company.
Shortly after its founding in 1891, business activities were expanded to include trading in agricultural machinery, bicycles, and fuel. A major milestone in the company’s history was the construction of a car workshop in 1933. The sale of motorcycles, bicycles, and sewing machines was established. In 1955, they started the regional agency for FORD under Josef Lehr II. This laid the foundation for the continuing success of the family company. From 1967 to 2002, the management of the company changed to the brothers Josef III and Manfred Lehr in 1978.
After the handover to now managing director Manfred Lehr II (the 4th generation) in 2002, the family decided to continue the expansion of the business. The family developed a strategic plan for sales and service for different automotive brands. As a result since 2008, the LEHR Company has had six car brands on offer and operated an e-bike center since 2017. Since then, the family is increasingly focused on the area of e-mobility.
The company has a clear succession plan and all major decisions like the six brands- strategy has always been discussed in the family board to find accordance with the former leading generation. So it has been a strict family decision without any external expertise so far. One of the driving forces behind this strategy was Manfred Lehr II together with his wife Mimi, she was the perfect manager for professionalising the management recognising the importance of maintaining the tradition of family involvement in decision-making. She is a perfect example of a strong woman in business.
But also some risks of family businesses can be seen in the history of the Lehr company. After his retirement, Manfred I was present in the company as the senior chief every day and was not always convinced of the new ideas compared to his philosophy of the family business and its development. But the family board with the younger members could convince him of their new ideas. The most important factor in this discussion was the family philosophy of a safe development without debt capital, a stable factor from generation to generation throughout the long history of the family business. The LEHR family protocol addresses these challenges in terms of long-term planning. With that constant of the family business, the whole company has always been in one hand up to now.
Typical examples of ideas of the younger generation have been to focus on e-mobility, to establish the brand LEHR with different social activities like charity events, become known as a company with strong personal relationships with their customers and the local community. However, as aforementioned, the philosophy of strong personal relationships with the customers was also based on the former generation, like Manfred Lehr I. The family business LEHR sells the idea of mobility, not only cars and equipment. Like in many family businesses, some changes in the future are to be expected. If the youngest generation of family members will continue is not known.