A big heart and and a clear vision
Joachim Herz was a person like no other. Responsible and creative, this disciplined free spirit was generous without being lavish and never lost touch with his roots. Hamburg entrepreneur Joachim Herz had a strong and sometimes seemingly contradictory personality. His closest employees spoke of a “unique person who was almost impossible to describe.”
Joachim Herz was an unconventional man with a big heart, a clear vision, and the desire to take control of his own life. He firmly believed that people have to be active rather than just react to events and that everyone should be able to make the most of the opportunities they are given. For Joachim Herz, who was the second son of Tchibo founder Max Herz, this meant striking out on his own at an early age and going beyond the family business and Hamburg society. In the early 1970s, he started making contacts in the United States – the country that went on to become his life’s great passion. This was very much a mutual affection. After all, Joachim Herz was in many ways a classic American “self-made man”: independent, inquisitive, and successful.
At around the same time, he moved his Hamburg office to the Langenhorn area of the city, occupying the top floor of a converted coffee-roasting tower. From here, he managed his assets and enjoyed a view of the nearby airport. Today, this “tower” serves as the headquarters of the Joachim Herz Foundation, with paintings and artworks collected by Joachim Herz hanging on the walls.
A Passion for Economic Issues
At the age of 40, Joachim Herz met his second wife Petra. For almost three decades, this husband-and-wife team worked side by side in their tower, day after day. Joachim Herz was fiercely intelligent and was able grasp new ideas extremely quickly. He was particularly interested in economic affairs. He liked to provoke discussion with his perceptive and unorthodox ideas, and was always looking for new ways to approach the subject. He would frequently question the status quo. Joachim Herz would conduct detailed debates, some of which lasted several hours, with both international financial experts and his own staff. Although he never let himself be talked into a position, he was always open to well-reasoned arguments.
A Birthday Present of 50 Oak Trees
Joachim Herz was also a very practical man. On his American ranch near Atlanta, Georgia, for instance, he loved nothing more than getting behind the wheel of large excavators and tractors. He loved water and built several new lakes on his land. He planted 50 oaks as a present to his wife on her fiftieth birthday.
Joachim Herz always stayed active. While he was passionate about sailing and an excellent swimmer, the hobby he loved above all else was flying. He bought his first airplane, a motor glider made of wood and canvas, in 1968. This aircraft, which is still fully functional, can be found on the ranch even today. He went on to buy many more airplanes and get his helicopter license. He eventually flew a seven-seater turboprop.
A Belief in Fair Play
Joachim Herz was fully aware of what could be achieved with his fortune. He always saw himself as its trustee. His ethos was always that “wealth comes with obligations and has to be managed properly.” He and his wife came up with the idea of setting up a foundation at an early stage. Fairness played a vital role in developing the identity of this foundation.
Fairness always mattered a great deal to him, especially when it came to how people treat those weaker than themselves. For Joachim Herz, fairness and a strong sense of right and wrong always outweighed harmony that came at any cost. He detested superficiality and preferred to live away from the glare of the public eye. Despite his great generosity and open-mindedness, he was careful with his trust. He relied on a close-knit group of long-standing advisers and his wife, who he named as the Chairwoman of the Foundation’s Executive Board in his will.
International and Entrepreneurial
In the same way that Joachim Herz saw himself as a citizen of the world, the foundation that bears his name also pursues a modern and international ethos. He stipulated that the Joachim Herz Foundation should first and foremost act in an entrepreneurial manner. When it came to his own financial investments, he also set great store by independence and autonomy. He managed his assets from his own family office. The employees of this family office are now part of the Foundation. Together with the other bodies that make up the Foundation, they ensure that it´s assets are used in a way that Joachim Herz would have wanted.
Statutes and Mission Statement Established
Joachim Herz set out the statutes in detail while he was still alive, defining the Foundation’s mission statement as the promotion of education, science, and research. Due to his death in an accident in May 2008, he was unable to witness the establishment of the Foundation. Despite her grief at his premature passing, Petra Herz had no doubts about bringing to life their shared idea of a charitable foundation.
On July 24, 2008, the Joachim Herz Foundation was recognized as the 1,100th charitable foundation to be set up in Hamburg. It is not only named after its founder but also reflects his beliefs. As originally planned and envisaged by Joachim and Petra Herz, the Foundation’s charitable work is based on the following guiding principles: live freely, promote personal responsibility and initiative and support those who want to better themselves.
A Pair of Sneakers behind the Back Seat
Located at the base of the Foundation’s “tower” is the founder’s old and much-loved VW-bus. This has become a kind of “Foundation-mobile” and is borrowed by employees as and when they need it. Behind the back seat is a pair of old sneakers – just one of the many tangible reminders of a generous, unconventional, and truly unique man: Joachim Herz.