Prof. h.c. Heinz Dreyer, Managing Director of Amazonen-Werke for many years, celebrated his 90th birthday on 19th February. He helped to build up the company as the third generation of the Dreyer families involved and played a significant role in developing it into the global agricultural machinery specialist in modern crop production.
In the course of his activities in the management of the Amazone Group, he made a large number of important award-winning technical inventions which have been patented. He transferred his management responsibilities to his son, Dr. Justus Dreyer, at the beginning of 2005. Nevertheless, he is still responsible for the Amazone seeding technology and optimum fertilisation and maintains his association with Samara State Agricultural University and other universities. He also continues to be a member of the management board.
As the eldest son of Dipl. Eng. Heinrich Dreyer, the successor to the founder of Amazonen-Werke, Heinz Dreyer was born in 1932 and was designated by his father as his successor at an early stage. After his Abitur (A-level equivalent) at the Ratsgymnasium (grammar school) in Osnabrück and during the breaks between semesters, he completed various periods of practical training at the steelworks in Georgsmarienhütte and Osnabrück, at the Heinrich Lanz company in Mannheim and the Bayerisches Leichtmetallwerk (BLW). He studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich and, after graduating in 1956, continued at the university as a freelancer with a research contract from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (Bonn) to complete his doctorate.
However, his plans were abruptly interrupted when his father died suddenly in November 1957. From that point, Heinz Dreyer immediately joined AMAZONEN-WERKE, together with his cousin Klaus Dreyer, and took over the management of the company together with him. This happened at the beginning of 1958. In addition to the necessary expansion of the company, Heinz Dreyer tackled his doctoral thesis again, additionally studying Agricultural Business Administration and Agricultural Policy with the corresponding examinations and received his doctorate from the Justus Liebig University in Gießen in 1963.
He was primarily concerned with product development from the outset and he immediately achieved great success here. After only a few weeks, he invented the first ZA three-point linkage mounted, twin disc fertiliser spreader, which later became the forerunner to almost all fertiliser spreaders used around the world since and has sold well over 750,000 units to date. He was also involved in the further development of potato harvesters, developed a new type of manure spreader with a wide-spreading unit, invented new seed drills for larger working widths and, then finally, a new modern, tractor-mounted seed drill, which also brought Amazonen-Werke market leadership in this field after a short time – the legendary AMAZONE D4.
He married Magdalene Teich, the daughter of a businessman from Lower Bavaria in 1960. He had four children Petra, Nicoline, Konstanze and Justus, who became his successor as CEO of the company.
With regard to the business, directing the company towards future-oriented management was especially important to him. He designed the concept of a management group that included carefully selected employees with corresponding voting rights in addition to the two managing directors, the so-called Management Group 1 (FG1), which still represents the senior management body today. It currently consists of eight people and of which Prof. Heinz Dreyer is still a member.
From 1975 onwards, he concentrated his development activities on seed drills for direct seeding in Canada and invented, amongst other things, the Amazone chisel opener, which is still proving its worth in the most varied conditions of use, especially in Russia. As there is a water shortage in large areas of Russia, Prof. Heinz Dreyer saw a great opportunity for direct seeding there which was successful. Prof. Heinz Dreyer, the spiritual father and inventor of the Primera DMC, is delighted to see how “his” machine continues to establish itself internationally.
Good informal atmosphere
As owner of a family-run business with a tradition, a good informal working atmosphere in all areas is still very important to him. Prof. Heinz Dreyer says the following with regard to his employees: “At Amazone, we have always been fortunate to have great employees, not only in engineering and design, but also in production and sales. You then have to create a climate that makes the employees feel comfortable and that their work is recognised”. Today around 2000 employees work in the internationally-successful Amazone group of companies at nine production sites across Germany, France, Russia and Hungary.
Over the years, Prof. Dreyer has anchored the Amazone virtues into the DNA of the overall Amazone organisation: These include outstanding innovative power, high quality standards and communication on equal terms with farmers and scientists from all over the world. With unceasing passion and high commitment, agricultural machinery development is a matter very close to his heart and for him the key to Amazone’s success: “Innovation is what has taken us to the top. New ideas, but they have to be really good, realistic and have technical advantages. However, our machines not only have to work well, they must be reliable more than anything else. And we are a company which is here for the service of its customers and cares for them.”
High honours for Prof. h.c. Univ. Samara R A S Dr. Dr. h.c. Heinz Dreyer
After Prof. Dreyer had been increasingly involved with seeding technology for Russia in recent years, he was elected “Member of the International Academy of Agricultural Education” in Moscow to begin with. This is considered one of the highest honours (“Academia”) in a long Russian tradition. As a scientific advisor at the Samara State Agricultural University, he was also made an Honorary Professor of this university in 2001, a title that has now been recognised unchanged in Germany.
On account of his services to scientific research and development in the area of agricultural engineering, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hohenheim in the summer of 2005. He received the Silver Order of Merit of the Ministry for Agriculture of the Russian Federation in 2008. The Association of German Engineers (VDI) recognised Prof. Heinz Dreyer’s lifetime achievement with the VDI Medal of Honour in 2009.
As the highest honour, Prof. Heinz Dreyer was elected “Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences RAAS” in 2012.