In 2018 our corporate group – Messer and the Messer Eutectic Castolin Group – celebrated its 120th anniversary together with the group’s 8,624 employees. The anniversary motto was “Fit at 120”. Messer was founded back in 1898 by Adolf Messer, who in his day employed four manual workers and a clerical worker at his workshop in Frankfurt-Hoechst, where they manufactured acetylene generators. Each week throughout the year 2018, we published 52 chronological and illustrated posts on Facebook and Twitter relating a part of the #MesserStory to the public – from 1898 to the present day. However, we wanted the main beneficiaries of our anniversary year activities to be the employees of the “Messer World” as well as our customers and partners and the inhabitants of the town of Bad Soden, where Messer Group has its headquarters:
Free pop concert for the people of Bad Soden
On 9 June 2018, we organised a free open-air concert featuring Belgian singer-songwriter Milow for the people of Bad Soden as well as customers, partners and all employees at our German sites together with their families. The event with the internationally successful music star was advertised via Messer posters in the town centre, via local newspapers, journals, newsletters and various online media. In the two weeks prior to the concert, interested local citizens had the opportunity to pick up tickets and admission wristbands from a Messer stand in Bad Soden’s historic station building. On the day of the concert, around 5,000 people came to the Neue Kurpark in Bad Soden to hear Milow’s performance, which included songs in English such as “Ayo Technology” and “Against the tide”. We arranged to have food trucks next to the concert area to provide catering for the audience. Following the concert, there was an after-show party for customers and partners in our own event centre, the Adolf-Messer-Forum. Some 350 guests accepted our invitation.
The process of organising the event involved us cooperating closely with Bad Soden town council and the voluntary fire brigade as well as other local institutions. We also got an experienced events agency involved in our project to help us with the conceptual design, organisation and staging of the concert. All costs associated with the concert, such as agency services, advertising posters, admission wristbands, fees for the musician and the band, equipment, stage, medical service, GEMA fees, insurance, safety barriers, security teams, toilets, set-up and dismantling, waste disposal etc., were borne by Messer.
Social responsibility in Bad Soden
As a family company, Messer has a long and vigorous tradition of taking on social responsibility. We act sustainably in accordance with our collective responsibility for people, progress and the environment. On the basis of these convictions as well as our strong local ties, we demonstrate our commitment as a family company through active involvement in a wide range of activities at all Messer locations worldwide.
Why concerts? We had previously organised a free open-air concert in the Kurpark in Bad Soden in 2012, with German pop singer Cassandra Steen, which was very well received by an audience of 5,000. Tickets for popular concerts are generally very expensive. Prices have been going up since concerts became the main source of income for pop musicians. Going to a concert (together) or participating in other cultural events can therefore often be beyond the means of many families and their children. Such families end up feeling culturally excluded from our society. What is more, you just can’t experience a real live concert in your own living room.
Anniversary activities for employees and former employees
Under the motto “Fit at 120. Every step counts!”, we organised a worldwide pedometer competition in the period from 1 April to 30 May 2018. All employees who wanted to take part in it, received a pedometer each and formed one or more teams per location or country and nominated a team leader. The team leader entered the figures calculated for the average number of steps taken by his or her team in an online database every week. At the end of the competition, the three teams with the highest average number of steps won a table tennis table or, alternatively, a table football game.
The competition saw many colleagues arrange to go for a run after work or at the weekends, not only to improve their score but to get fitter as well – which at the end of the day also fostered a sense of connection with the company.
Furthermore, we offered an intranet game for all employees that allowed them to demonstrate their knowledge of Messer as well as their general knowledge. All the players who answered all the questions correctly could look forward to winning sports armbands for heart rate and fitness monitoring.
In September, Messer held a joint staff party at all its company locations worldwide. The parties at each location were themed on one of the 12 decades in which we have enjoyed success. In order to create a sense of community, an electronic communication system was installed, which enabled videos and photos to be exchanged live worldwide.
Also, in September 2018, around 300 former employees from Germany attended a reception at Messer in Bad Soden. In the Adolf-Messer-Forum, the retirees listened to a presentation by Stefan Messer on the company’s current developments. Afterwards, there was plenty of time to mingle and catch up with each other.
Many Messer companies are involved in social projects. They are guided in this by the needs of their country and their immediate environment. In 2018, the main focus of commitment was on training and science as well as children and health. In this Corporate Responsibility Report, we publish just a small selection of social projects to provide a sense of the range of activities in which we are involved.
Commitment to training and science
Poland: Messer supports primary school
Messer has built a reputation in Poland of being a dependable investor and trustworthy employer that supports charitable projects in local communities. The main focus at the moment is on promoting the educational opportunities available to school children from small towns. To this end, the Johannes Paul II primary school in Kaczki Średnie near Turek received a modern laptop and an overhead projector plus projection screen. The new multimedia equipment is being used primarily in foreign language classes.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Messer promotes dual training
Messer Tehnoplin is sponsoring a pupil at the technical college for mechanical engineering as part of a pilot project to promote dual training in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mirza Halilović is being given the opportunity to gather practical work experience with us too. His dual training came to an end on completion of his third year in June 2018. The pilot project is the product of an initiative launched by the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).
Hungary: Messer supports technical training and education
For the eleventh time, “Pneumobil” in Hungary featured spectacular races and developments. The event was organised by AVENTICS in support of technical university education. We supply the compressed air needed to operate the vehicles that are designed and built by the entrants themselves. We also support the “Műszakik” team with argon for welding the frames as well as nitrogen for testing the pneumatic drives.
Messer Industriegase is supporting the "Lids against polio" project organised by Nuremberg-based charity "Deckel drauf e.V.". Instead of returning plastic bottle lids with the bottle or throwing them away, they're being collected and recycled. The proceeds from 500 lids are sufficient for one dose of oral vaccination that protects a child against the usually fatal disease, polio. Over 300,000 oral vaccinations have been financed so far thanks to the "Lids against polio" campaign.
Germany: Post-Christmas gift giving
In February 2018, Messer donated over 3,300 euros to the children's cancer charity "Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder Frankfurt e.V.". The donation came from the proceeds of the Christmas Market at Messer-Platz in Bad Soden that we organised for the third time in November 2017. A team of employees sold grilled sausages, cakes and drinks in the historic railway station building for a good cause. Our stalls were stocked by local retailers, the Bad Soden town council and the Slovenian Cultural Society.
Hungary: Celebrating together, learning from each other
Apart from scientific and ecological projects, Messer Hungarogáz is also committed to social aspects: as part of our Employer Branding programme, we have been promoting social awareness among our employees for two years now. Fittingly, in September 2018, our Family Day was also attended by a group of people with mental handicaps. They were employees from the workshop run by Hungary’s Lámpás '92 Foundation. They gave an impressive demonstration of traditional rope-making techniques as well as how to make classic kites from tissue paper.
Germany: Messer invited 60 children to discover the world of gases
In July 2018, Messer in Bad Soden offered 60 children, between the ages of 10 and 13, the opportunity to discover gases and their positive properties as part of the Ferienspiele, a programme of organised holiday activities.
The children explored the permanent company exhibition in small guided groups. The exhibition offers lots of scope for discovery and fascinating experiences. The centrepiece is a 60-year-old restored air separation unit. Messer has prepared the unit so that visitors can look directly inside it, allowing them to gain a better understanding of the process of separating air into its main components – nitrogen and oxygen. The fact that industrial gases are needed for environmental protection, for instance in the recycling of reusable materials, is illustrated very clearly by ground-up rubber and a doll’s refrigerator. Xenon lamps, helium balloons and a welded bicycle frame make it clear that while the world of gases may be invisible, it is no less exciting. Before the day ended with pizza, the children of Bad Soden had the opportunity to demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge in a short quiz.
The Messer family founded the charitable Adolf Messer Foundation in 1978 in memory of Adolf Messer, who would have turned 100 on 6 April of that year. The independent foundation is a shareholder in the Messer Group GmbH’s two parent companies, Messer Industrie GmbH and MIG Holding GmbH, and supports science, research and the teaching of young scientists.
In the social and health spheres, the Messer family set up the charitable Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation in memory of Dr Hans Messer.
The activities of both charitable foundations are independent of those of the Messer Group.
The purpose of the Adolf Messer Foundation is to be a driving force for education and science. According to its charter, the Adolf Messer Foundation supports science and research, public and vocational education and the provision of help to students. Well over 10 million euros has been spent for foundation purposes to date.
The purpose of any foundation should be to support projects and ideas that are given no or insufficient consideration within the framework of basic state provision. The Adolf Messer Foundation also pursues this idea by supporting and recognising scientists who have attracted attention through special or outstanding achievements, by awarding scholarships and prizes and by supporting scientific and educational establishments.
The Adolf Messer Foundation’s activities encompass support and funding as well as operational aspects. Since it was founded in 1978, it has operated as a charitable foundation with legal capacity established under private law, making a varied and ongoing contribution to the promotion of science and research as well as school and vocational education. This work is becoming increasingly important in this day and age as the state is often unable to provide sufficient funding. In this way, thirst for education, innovation, scientific curiosity and pioneering spirit are rewarded.
The Foundation exclusively and directly pursues charitable ends within the meaning of the “tax-advantaged purposes” section of the German tax code.
The purpose of the foundation is to support science and research as well as public and vocational education and training including student support. The aim as laid down in the charter is served in particular by granting one-off or recurring grants (bursaries) for education and training of eligible individuals, providing scientific or educational establishments predominantly in the Federal Republic of Germany with funds for scientific purposes or education and training purposes, and offering prizes and awards for special achievements by scientists and students in order to promote research and encourage individual initiative.
Adolf Messer Foundation Awards
In order to provide targeted support to young scientists and their research, the Adolf Messer Foundation has been giving two awards annually since 1994: one for post-doctoral researchers at Technische Universität Darmstadt and one for post-doctoral researchers at Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
The Adolf Messer Foundation award at TU Darmstadt, where Senator Adolf Messer himself was a student of mechanical engineering in 1898, serves to promote excellence in the fields of science and engineering as well as economics, social sciences and the humanities. It is the richest award for young scientists at TU Darmstadt. The award is intended to fund material and personnel resources for research projects at TU Darmstadt.
In each case, award decisions are made by an interdisciplinary awards committee appointed by the foundation and the university board. There is always a representative of the Adolf Messer Foundation on the awards committee.
Adolf Messer Award at Goethe Universität Frankfurt
The Adolf Messer Foundation Award also serves to support outstanding young scientists at Goethe Universität Frankfurt, although here the field is basic scientific and medical research. On 26 November 2018, Alexander Vogel, professor of atmospheric environmental analytics at Goethe Universität, received the Adolf Messer Foundation Award, endowed with 50,000 euros on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, for his research project on particulate matter pollution. Particulate matter is a form of pollution whose sources are not all understood to this day. This is because the very complex mixture is formed in the atmosphere from a wide variety of gaseous precursor molecules. Alexander Vogel’s aim is to identify these molecules and thereby help to improve air quality. While he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Paul-Scherrer-Institut in Switzerland, Alexander Vogel developed a method for creating a molecular fingerprint from atmospheric particulate matter samples. By analysing them, he can determine the secondary formation mechanism. The molecular fingerprint of particulate matter samples from Los Angeles, for example, exhibits a high percentage of nitrogen-containing organic molecules. The award-winner suspects that a reduction in nitric oxide emissions would also lead to a reduction of particulate air pollution in urban areas. However, in order to elucidate the formation mechanisms of individual substances, further analyses of atmospheric samples and specific laboratory experiments in which the formation of particulate matter is simulated are necessary. By comparing field measurements with the experiment, Alexander Vogel can already assign a portion of the signals in the real samples to certain processes and precursor molecules. Of the remaining unknowns, at least the molecular formula can be determined, so that potential sources and formation mechanisms can be investigated in further laboratory tests. Alexander Vogel will now set up the experimental method he developed at the Paul-Scherrer-Institut at Goethe Universität. Among other things, he requires a machine for high performance liquid chromatography, which can now be acquired thanks to the support provided by the Adolf Messer Foundation. His research approach has been met with great interest among environmental science master degree students.
Adolf Messer Award at Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt
Ulrike Kramm, assistant professor in the chemistry and materials & earth sciences departments at TU Darmstadt since March 2015, develops non-precious metal catalysts for energy applications. They are modelled on nature and resemble the red blood pigment haemoglobin. In 2018, she received the Adolf Messer Foundation Award worth 50,000 euros for her research work.
In her search for a replacement for precious metals that are used in energy-relevant applications such as low-temperature fuel cells or electrolysers, Ulrike Kramm is guided by an example from nature: the blood pigment haemoglobin. At the centre of the molecule, there is an iron atom surrounded by four nitrogen atoms. Unlike with haemoglobin, where the iron-nitrogen unit forms a molecular centre integrated into an organic molecule, the molecular centres developed by Kramm are integrated into pure carbon in the form of graphene. The metal contained in Kramm’s catalysts is not necessarily iron; it can also be cobalt, copper or manganese for example. The metal requirement for catalysis is reduced significantly by integrating the metals into the molecular centre. In all of Germany, there is unlikely to be anyone who knows more about these promising catalysts than the 39-year-old scientist who studied engineering physics at Fachhochschule Zwickau (university of applied sciences) with the main emphasis on environmental technology before going on to work on the optimisation of new fuel cell catalysts in a cooperative project between Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and Toyota. In her doctoral thesis at HZB, which she completed in 2009, Kramm researched the structure of non-precious metal catalysts. During spells as a postdoctoral research fellow at Canada’s INRS-EMT research institute in Varennes, at HZB and at Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg (university of technology), she continued to pursue structure elucidation and also developed a cleaning procedure that boosts catalyst performance. Together with her team at TU Darmstadt, she is now working on improving the long-term stability of non-precious metal catalysts. In addition, her group is developing new analytical methods to further elucidate the structure of the catalysts as well as the catalytic mechanisms. She would now like to use the funds received with the Adolf Messer Foundation Award to research a completely new synthesis route and also examine the extent to which the concept of metal-nitrogen units can be applied to other molecular centres for catalysis in energy applications.
Learning German at TU Braunschweig
In 2018, the Adolf Messer Foundation supported the international summer courses in German language and culture at TU Braunschweig (university of technology). The language centre at TU Braunschweig has been running international summer courses for over 30 years. Students from all over the world can learn German, make lots of new contacts and experience and learn about German history, industry and culture on excursions to Berlin, Wolfsburg or the Harz Mountains. The language centre also awards scholarships; for example, bursaries are available for especially qualified students from Eastern Europe as well as South-East Asia, Central Asia, South Africa and South America. The Adolf Messer Foundation provided financial support in 2018 – as it did in previous years.
The aim of the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation is to support the most vulnerable in our society. In accordance with the charter, the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation supports charitable projects and projects in the sphere of social or welfare work. Assistance may also be provided on an individual case basis.
Even today, there are many people who are more vulnerable than others. Those who are sick or in need of care, who do not get enough support in our society but need help urgently.
This is exactly where the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation wants to provide assistance. In keeping with the times, it puts into effect the social mandate ‘to help others’, which is its obligation in accordance with the will of the founder.
The Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation treats all people with respect and tolerance. Its activities encompass support and funding as well as operational aspects. It has been a charitable dependent foundation established under private law since it was founded in 2004. It is held in trust by the Adolf Messer Foundation.
In cases where people’s own strength and means are not sufficient, and where adequate support cannot be provided by the state either, that is where the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation provides assistance. A social mandate that was always very important to the founder, Ria Messer, as well as the person that the foundation is named after, Dr Hans Messer.
The purpose of the foundation is to provide support to specific individuals within the meaning of § 53 AO (German tax code) and to promote social welfare. This purpose shall be achieved by helping individuals who are dependent on the help of others as a result of their physical, mental or psychological condition (§ 53 No. 1 AO of the German tax code), who find themselves in need through no fault of their own, for example as a result of natural disasters, who are in need according to § 53 No. 2 Clause 3 AO of the German tax code, by providing one-off or ongoing financial support in order to remedy their need in the long term or by financially aiding the work of the leading independent welfare organisations or other tax-privileged bodies operating in the charitable sector or other tax-privileged organisations providing care and treatment to individuals suffering from serious illnesses through no fault of their own.
Rapid assistance for sick children
When an urgent announcement came in from the Stiftung Kinderzukunft (Children’s Future Foundation) in 2018, the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation didn’t hesitate for long. It has supported the children’s charity’s projects on numerous occasions, being a firm believer in the professional work carried out by the foundation, which is based in the neighbouring town of Gründau. This time the news concerned sick children in the children’s village in Guatemala who needed surgery in Quetzaltenango as quickly as possible. While this was rather sad news, the Dr Hans Messer Social Foundation was all the more hopeful of being able to alleviate the distress quickly with its spontaneous assistance.