Crossing borders

Working beyond borders: a success story

Crossing borders

The story of Hager Group is a history of successful border crossings. By operating across language barriers, cultural differences and borders, we have continuously expanded the scope of our success. And this is only the beginning of the story.

The Founding Fathers (and Brothers)
Together with their father Peter, Dr. Oswald Hager (1926 - 2017) and Hermann Hager (1928 - 2014) founded Hager Group in the mid-1950s. From the very start, the two entrepreneurs operated across borders and achieved success far beyond their Saarland home.

It all started with a big dilemma. In 1955, Oswald and Hermann Hager, along with their father, founded their small elektrotechnische Fabrik, which produced new meter and distribution boards. The location of the new Hager general partnership was Ensheim in Saarland, a region which, at the end of World War II, was first made a protectorate under French control. Then, in 1957 following a referendum, the Saarland became German again. A result of this was that France would become a sovereign neighbouring state with all the border controls, customs provisions and bureaucratic obstacles that greatly complicated cross-border trade at the time.

Our company founders had two choices: integrate into the French market or move across the border. In the end, they created a third option: operate successfully in both Germany and France. While Oswald oversaw the main factory and distribution in Ensheim, Saarland, Herman Hager, the more technical of the two, built the company’s second foothold in the town of Obernai, in the Region of Alsace, France.

It was one of the best decisions in our company’s history. Thanks to this option, they were able to operate across borders, effortlessly crossing from one side to the other and throughout Europe. Francophiles accepted them to such an extent that as the years passed they even considered them honorary Frenchmen. The Hager brothers were well-known at electrical trade fairs and not just for their meter boards: guests were greeted with champagne and cognac.

The fact that, as Saarlanders, they were neither totally German nor French helped them a great deal at the start, as Oswald explained later in retrospect. “We really were neither one nor the other, but we managed it so well because we knew both the French and German perspective and could act accordingly.”


Creation of Hager oHG, elektrotechnische Fabrik.

1955 – 1960

To set up their company, the Hager family acquire disused workshops on a 12,000 m² site in Ensheim, Saarland.


In January, the new production site located rue du Général Leclerc in Obernai goes into operation.


Hager takes its first steps in the export market and has a prominent position in the Products of Saarland pavilion at the Metz International Fair. This fair welcomes more than 600,000 visitors from the United Kingdom and the bordering countries of Luxembourg, Germany and France.


With one foot in France and the other in Germany, Hager is firmly established in Europe’s two largest markets. Hager celebrates 25 years at its Ensheim site. The Saarland production site covers 17,000 m² and employs 766 people. On the other side of the border, the Alsatian site covers 16,000 m² and has 698 employees.

1990 – 1994

Hager is expanding and subsidiaries are set up in Switzerland, Belgium and Spain, as well as new locations acquired in Telford in the UK, Sweden and Austria. Sales structures and partnerships are expanding steadily.

1995 – 2000

Hager pursues its international expansion. Subsidiaries are opened in the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong…


An 8,000 m² industrial site is built in Huizhou, China, employing 350 in production and 150 in administrative and commercial functions.


Speech by Dr. Oswald Hager for the 50-year celebration of the company. There are now 8,700 employees worldwide.


More and more employees are internationally mobile, be they in Australia, China, India or Saudi Arabia, they contribute to broadening horizons and connecting cultures within the group.

We may be ‘neither one nor the other’, but we are active all over the world. Our company headquarters is located in Blieskastel, Saarland, and our largest production facility is in Obernai. While our company organisation is a European one – we are an SE, a societas europaea – our market is the whole world. We produce our components and solutions in 23 locations around the globe and customers in more than 120 countries around the world have come to rely on them.

This ability to adapt and be understood as well as embrace rather than deny our identity is more crucial today than ever before. Without these abilities, we would never have achieved our current size and scope. In keeping with this, we try to support the mobility of our employees today, regardless of hierarchy, length of service, work area or origin. This includes postings several months in length, as well as ’localisations’, whereby employees move to a new location in the long term. We support employees in looking for somewhere to live, language acquisition, finding a school for their children, intercultural training and almost everything that helps them integrate into their new home and will make their stay abroad a success.

Since 2015, the number of employee postings has almost doubled, increasing more than five-fold in comparison to 2013. In future, there may be even more. “The goal of our mobility policy is to promote international careers and build bridges between the various Hager Group sites,” says Anne Girault, in charge of international mobility at Hager Group. “This enables us to share knowledge and common processes within the company.”

One thing is clear: by continuously broadening our horizons, we have also expanded the scope of our potential success. By better understanding the perspectives and needs of other cultures and regions, we are getting better at understanding how we can help them with our products and solutions. And what better way of doing that than changing our perspectives for a while and making a second home abroad? Just like our founders did all those decades ago?

According to John Le Carré, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” So let’s leave our desks and overcome the borders, barriers and difficulties that this involves. Let’s hit the road!

Dubai, United
Arab Emirates

Juana Ashi

Juana Ashi, as Solution Manager for Rapidly Developing Economies, moved 2017 from Heltersberg, Germany, to the Middle East. A Solutions Manager based in Dubai, she takes care of customers in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

With this new position as Solution Manager for Rapidly Developing Economies, I travel a lot in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. Being based in Dubai means being closer to customers and better understanding what they want. I think this makes everything easier.

Being here, I discovered that I am open to other cultures. I think that, in fact, we build our own barriers; coping with other languages, cultures and mentalities is in the end as easy or difficult as you make it.

Hager Group is a very open company, with a lot of encouragement for women, especially those with a technical background.

Rio de Janeiro,

Edison Alvares

Edison Alvares, 51 years old. As Operations Director at Bocchiotti SpA in Italy, he moved in 2016 from Rio de Janeiro to Genoa.

I see many benefits with the mobility process at Hager Group; you get out of your comfort zone, have more autonomy and look at things from a different angle.

Before coming to Italy to work at Bocchiotti as Operations Director, I was Industrial Manager in Brazil. Coming to Italy was not a difficult decision to make. It was a big challenge for me and my family yet also a great opportunity for us, both professionally and personally. I really was welcomed by my Italian colleagues and Value Chain members. I’m still in adaptation mode, I hope I will meet expectations and build up strong connections in Europe. I’m very proud to be here.

Pune, India

Florence Moro

Florence Moro, 41 years old. As Factory Support Senior Manager, she moves regularly from one production site to another at Hager Group. She lived with her family in Pune, India, for two years to support Hager Group when a factory was opened there.

I haven’t been in my office over the past few weeks, I’ve been travelling and indeed in my profession this is normal. As factory support, I help our production sites build up new lines, integrate processes or adapt organisational methods such as agile workflows. For me, it is a great privilege to meet other people, learn from them, get to see other parts of the world and experience different cultures. I really recommend this experience to everyone.

It’s the type of job that requires an open mind and curiosity. Professionally living abroad is a challenge, it can be very tiring and it is a personal challenge too. The first three to six months are hectic, you need to find your way around and connect to people. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family, who really were a big help. After about half a year you make friends and it all starts to become familiar; it’s at this point you really start to enjoy your time abroad. It’s a great experience.

Pune, India

Praveen Nair

Praveen Nair, 46 years old. As Senior Manager Market Intelligence he moved in 2016 from Pune to Obernai, he is responsible for defining and managing the Market Intelligence process at Hager Group.

As head of Sales & Marketing in India, I had a front end job, with customers and partners. My current role in Solution Development and Marketing in Obernai, is more strategy centred. This current experience is giving me a different perception of how a business is run.

Mobility gives you an opportunity to explore new avenues, places, cultures, food... the list is endless. This is my second stint abroad in the last ten years. I have always enjoyed this and the experience is enriching. It helps you be more agile and adaptable. I would suggest that everyone, at least once in their lifetime, should have a job outside of their home country. You will cherish it.

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