The straightforward “Ringmaster”

On 23 April, Dr.-Ing. E.h. Bernard Krone celebrated his 80th birthday. Over the past decades, he has not only shaped the Krone company and provided many important impulses for commercial vehicle construction, but also has had an impact far into the field of transport and logistics. Contact with customers has always been very important to him.

e is one of the great entrepreneurial personalities in German vehicle construction. With a clear wink, his special business card describes the comprehensive scope of his work for the company and for the industry: “Dr Bernard Krone – Ringmaster” can be read there. Reliability, straightforwardness, honesty – these are terms with which many companions describe him with esteem. It has always been important to him to be a role model and to live this role actively: “If you’re in the business yourself from morning to night, you motivate people.”


His life motto goes back to Dante: “One waits for time to change, the other grabs it vigorously and acts”. Dr Bernard Krone acts – naturally. For many decades, he shaped the company, developed products and set the course before he officially retired from operative business in 2010 and handed over the reins to his son Bernard. His most important advice to his successor: “Always remain the blacksmith from the Emsland like your great-grandfather, your grandfather and your father”.

Even today he is often present in the company and at exhibitions from morning till night at his stand. He feels just as at home at the IAA Commercial Vehicles as he does at Agritechnica. This is exactly what his passion is: maintaining contact with customers, conducting personal discussions, helping with problems and overcoming individual challenges together. In this way he has built up a completely new quality, service and customer care system. Many customers are quite astonished when Dr Bernard Krone calls them personally and in direct conversation, finds answers to questions, takes up suggestions or even deals with complaints.


He grew into the company from an early age. Even as a child he was often allowed to go to the factory and to the customers. As a six year-old nipper, Bernard explained to his teacher that he could learn more in the workshop than at school. Of course, he went ahead anyway, completed an apprenticeship after graduation and then in 1959, as the youngest student to date, began his academic training as a mechanical engineer in Cologne. Three years later he successfully completed his studies and joined the company. His father sent him to Ireland for a stay abroad, where he was to earn his spurs in sales. He wanted to prepare him as early as possible for taking over the business. In 1970 his father died unexpectedly – much too early. As sole heir, the junior took over the company’s agricultural machinery production in Spelle. They were big Footsteps that Dr Bernard Krone followed, but it was a matter of course for him to take responsibility. Looking back, he explains: “Even then, Krone Commercial Vehicle was a good company with great employees and incredibly loyal customers. And that was a great foundation on which to build and develop it further”.
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Over the past decades, the company, under the management of Dr. Bernard Krone, has grown into an internationally recognized commercial vehicle group with around 2,500 employees.

Dr Bernard Krone always took good care of this foundation and protected it from damage. But his start as head of the company was anything but easy. Even emotionally hit hard by the sudden death of his father, he also had to struggle with the challenges of the industry: Due to saturation, the German agricultural machinery market experienced a decline for the first time since the war, sales shrank, and far too large material inventories caused high costs. Many competitors in the agricultural machinery sector had to give up. The Krone company, on the other hand, was able to build on a stable financial basis: Bernard’s father had always managed in such a way that reserves remained to survive difficult economic times. In addition, he had already begun to diversify the business, which Dr Bernard Krone was now able to continue. A first large order came from Kässbohrer, for whom Krone welded chassis. For the forwarding agency Oelrich, he built a three-axle grain trailer with grain discharge. And Dr Bernard Krone had an idea with vision: He had the Krone lettering of the agricultural machinery pressed onto the underride guard – a striking identification mark that also marked the entry into vehicle construction.


Dr Bernard Krone continued to develop the company and made groundbreaking decisions: In addition to entering the commercial vehicle sector, he established, among other things, self-propelled technology in agricultural engineering, specialized the company in forage harvesting technology and built up a network of suppliers. Together with his employees, he also repeatedly initiated new concepts, such as the Safe Liner, with which Krone even made it into the TV show “stern TV”, the long truck and the Aero Liner, as well as the coil trough for transporting steel coils – which is a Krone invention – and later became a legal requirement. In addition, he always relied on the latest technologies: In 1997, for example, the then most modern cathodic dip painting (CDP) plant in Europe was opened at the Werlte site. It enables cathodic dip painting plus environmentally friendly powder coating of the chassis. The concept was continued in 2016: At that time, the Krone Commercial Vehicle Group invested in an ultra-modern coating plant in Werlte – a surface treatment centre with integrated, fully automatic chassis warehouse, which was officially inaugurated in 2018.


The Dr. Bernard Krone Foundation has been supporting regional and international projects for ten years.
The Dr Bernard Krone Foundation has been supporting regional and international projects for ten years. On the occasion of Dr Bernard Krone’s 70th birthday, the foundation of the same name was established, which does good in many different ways. Among other things, it supports associations and institutions that positively influence life in the Emsland region with their charitable activities – for example, a donation was made to the support association of the primary school in Spelle. The initiative also helps internationally: After the devastating typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, 25,000 euros were donated to the Aktionskreis Pater Heinz Kulüke e.V. for initial immediate aid measures. Father Kulüke originally comes from Spelle. Also supported are sports clubs of the joint community of Spelle and Werlte, art and culture in Emsland as well as a senior citizens’ facility in Spelle. Young engineers of agricultural and commercial vehicle technology are also to be supported by the foundation.


Dr Bernard Krone’s commitment also had an impact far beyond the company’s boundaries. He played a major role in ensuring that the A31 was able to close the gap that was so important. Plus, more than 10 years earlier than planned – thanks to a financing model, unique at that point – companies, municipalities, counties, The Netherlands, the Chamber of Trade, Industry and Commerce all contributed and significantly accelerated the project. He also played a full part in the work of the association: at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, in the Association of the Agricultural Machinery Industry, as President of the European Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (CEMA), as long-standing Vice-President of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and as Chairman of the Manufacturers Group “Trailers, Bodies and Buses”. His achievements have been honoured many times: The Technical University Carolo Wilhelmina Braunschweig gave him an honorary doctorate. He was awarded the Tilo-Freiherr-von-Wilmowsky Medal for “valuable impetus over the years for the benefit of people employed in agriculture”. Additionally, the former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, presented him with the Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Order of Merit of Lower Saxony. He also won the industry award LEO in the category “Innovation/Idea” for the concept of the long truck. He was awarded the Emsland Medal, the Grashof Memorial Coin – the highest award of the German engineers – and with the “Big Dipper” of the BGL. The VDA appointed him an honorary member in 2013.

Dr Bernard Krone himself once said that his success was based on a great deal of good fortune, among other things, on capable employees and loyal customers. However, it was certainly not only luck that enabled him to steer the company so skilfully and bring it safely through all waters. He is well aware of the stable basis on which he was once able to build when he took over the company: “The most important, but also the most difficult thing in a company is the beginning,” says Dr Bernard Krone. “I did not have to make this start. In 1970, as sole heir, I took over a truly flawless company with an outstanding name.” All the greater is his respect for all those who founded companies so they could drive economic development forward and look boldly to the future.

Photos: Krone

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