Our Values

Company History

Today, Messer is the largest owner-managed industrial gases manufacturer worldwide. The company was founded in 1898 by Adolf Messer, Stefan Messer’s grandfather, in Frankfurt am Main. Under the leadership of Dr Hans Messer, Stefan Messer’s father, the company went through a process of development in the 60s to become a supplier of industrial gases, cryogenic systems, and welding and cutting products. Hoechst AG, subsequently Aventis, held a two-thirds majority stake in the Group; the other third was held by the Messer family.

At the beginning of the 90s, Dr Hans Messer retired from active management of business operations and joined the Supervisory Board.

In 2001, Hoechst sold its two-thirds majority shareholding to financial investors. With their help, Stefan Messer managed to return large parts of the company to full family ownership in 2004. As an independent family entrepreneur, Stefan Messer built on his father’s earlier successes. He and his team managed to turn things around for the long-established company, which many at the time had written off as a failure. Under their management, and with the new “Messer - Gases for Life” brand, the company has doubled its sales to over a billion euros.

Messer consistently aligns all its actions to a specific set of values. The strategy followed by the Messer Group has always been based on the company’s vision, which was developed and is lived by its managers, to be the preferred choice for its customers and employees. The Company Mission Statement consists of this vision as well as the mission and the six corporate values: customer and employee focus, responsible behaviour, corporate responsibility as well as open communication, trust and respect.

Engagement in the Economic Sphere

At Messer, there is wide-ranging engagement on the part of owner and CEO Stefan Messer, CFO Dr Hans-Gerd Wienands, the Supervisory Board, executives and employees alike. This makes it possible to widen the scope for action and exchange marketrelated experience via networks and cooperative initiatives.

The owner’s personal commitment

As Vice President and member of the General Assembly of the Frankfurt am Main Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK), Stefan Messer holds the office of Chairman of the foreign trade committee there and was also a member of the foreign trade committee of the German Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) in Berlin up until 2017. Furthermore, he is an Honorary Senator of the Technical University Darmstadt and Honorary Senator of the Goethe University Frankfurt, as well as a member of the board of trustees of the Faculty of Economics and on the board of trustees of the China Institute at the Goethe University Frankfurt. In addition, he is a member of the board of the German-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, a member of the advisory committee for the FrankfurtRheinMain economic initiative, a member of Commerzbank AG’s advisory committee for the state of Hesse and a member of HDI Gerling’s state advisory committee. He is also a member of the executive board of the Friends of the German-Vietnamese University and sits on the board of Dachser Group SE & Co. KG. Since January 2009, Stefan Messer has been Honorary Consul of the Republic of Slovenia for the consular district of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. Stefan Messer is also involved in ASU – Die Familienunternehmer, an association of family entrepreneurs that supports the fundamental values of a social market economy, in particular free enterprise. Furthermore, Stefan Messer is a member of the steering committee and board of the East Asian Association (OAV) and Chairman of the inter-state committee on Thailand.

Involvement in industry associations

The Messer Group is a member of the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA). The Brussels-based association represents nearly all European companies that produce and market industrial, medical and food gases. The association‘s members cooperate with the aim of achieving the highest possible safety and environmental standards during the production, transport and use of gases. At the beginning of each workshop organised by the EIGA, the members are reminded of the importance of complying with the “EIGA anti-trust meeting rules”. Messer is also a member of the IOMA (International Oxygen Manufacturers Association), the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations and the German Asian-Pacific Business Association (OAV). Messer employees are represent in all governing bodies of these associations.

The Messer Group is a member of the German Welding Society (DVS). The DVS is a non-profit, technical and scientific association based in Düsseldorf. Messer is also involved in the family business association “Die Familienunternehmer e.V.”, in the FBN Family Business Network and in the FrankfurtRheinMain e.V. economic initiative.

Messer employees are involved in expert committees, support research projects, and establish and maintain contact with expert groups in technologically advanced fields. The subsidiaries are engaged in various local industry associations. The Messer companies are also involved in organisations in their local regions.

German delegation tours Croatian production site

On 9 May 2017, a German delegation visited the Messer production site in Zaprešić, Croatia. Together with Hessian Minister President Volker Bouffier, 15 parliamentarians visited a plant that produces the air gases oxygen, nitrogen and argon as well as a gas cylinder filling operation. In a presentation, Robert Mustač, Managing Director of Messer in Croatia, reported on his experience with launching the German company on the Croatian market: “The success of the past 25 years was the result of bundled German and Croatian know-how in combination with an organised process.” The delegation’s itinerary was organised by the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Hessian Minister President Volker Bouffier accompanied 15 German parliamentarians on a trip to Croatia where they toured a Messer plant that produces the air gases oxygen, nitrogen and argon as well as a Messer gas cylinder filling operation.

Messer Compliance Management System

The Messer Compliance Management System (Messer CMS), which we implemented in 2010, is an organisational concept that describes the Messer Group’s system of values and its practical implementation and defines the responsibilities derived from it. It constitutes a mandatory framework for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory provisions and the inter-company and company-internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group. The managing directors and senior management are fully committed to the Messer CMS. As a system of values, its purpose is to establish a relationship with our customers, partners and employees as well as with our competitors, the public and the media, based on fairness, solidarity and trust, to resolve conflicts of interest and ensure compliance with the applicable laws, regulatory provisions and inter-company and company-internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group. The CMS, which has been developed for this purpose, supports those responsible in setting up and implementing the organisational concept. The aim of the organisational concept is to prevent breaches of the Messer Code before they occur.

The Messer Code

The management of Messer Group GmbH has summarised the principles for the organisational concept in a set of rules (the “Messer Code”). The Messer Code stands for active corporate governance and is intended as a guide to all employees in their day-to-day working life while taking into account the Messer Mission Statement. Managing directors must take suitable measures to ensure that all employees have unrestricted access to the Messer Code and are aware of where and how it can be consulted.

The Messer Code of Conduct is the core document within the Messer Code. It is supplemented and given substance by the Group Guidelines as well as other binding internal regulations. Our employees are obliged to observe applicable laws and the rules of the Messer Code when performing their work. We also expect our business partners, customers and other parties who work with Messer to observe applicable laws and the principles of the Messer Code.

Compliance officers

The management of Messer Group GmbH bears responsibility for monitoring the Messer CMS. This organisational concept is binding for all managing directors, senior management staff and employees of the Messer Group.

The local managing directors are responsible for implementing this organisational concept in their own national subsidiary and ensuring that it is adhered to while observing applicable legal regulations. The board of Messer Group GmbH has appointed a Corporate Compliance Officer (CCO) to support the managing directors and the supervisory bodies in their duties.
In addition, there are Local Compliance Officers (LCOs) who are designated by the regional directors in consultation with the respective national managing directors. The team of compliance officers is supplemented by the corporate departmental heads in the Corporate Office, who act as department-specific compliance officers (BCOs). The management of the Messer Group GmbH has defined the general tasks, rights and obligations of the compliance officers in a Compliance Officer Guideline document. Managing directors, senior management, the CCO, LCOs and BCOs also serve as role models. They are expected to demonstrate a high degree of social and ethical competence.

Managing directors and senior management are expected to demonstrate an appropriate degree of organisation, leadership, communication, selectivity, oversight and direction in their activities. Moreover, they are obliged to protect customers, employees and the environment. In this context, a clear commitment to conducting business in compliance with the law is just as essential as preventing and disciplining illegal practices.

Training programme

Besides traditional classroom training, there are webinars and e-learning courses given on selected topics relating to the Messer Code. The corporate departments, and the local management and departments generally decide on the content of the courses and the employees to be trained. They assume responsibility for arranging and giving the training courses, supported by external service providers as necessary, and ensuring that proper documentation is issued. The Messer Group management may mandate training courses and specific course content as well as the group of employees to be trained.

Reporting and auditing

A whole range of matters is subject to a specific approval and reporting process governed by the Group Guidelines, by the largely standardised articles of association, by the rules of procedure for the boards of management of the (national) subsidiaries, by an approval and information list stipulating decision-making responsibilities among local management and their boards, regional management, corporate management and the Executive Board as well as the Supervisory Board of Messer Group GmbH, by signature regulations based on dual responsibility, and by separate requirements issued by the corporate divisions.

In addition to this, local, regional and departmental meetings are held regularly to discuss and coordinate topics and to exchange and report on experiences. The most important procedures at Messer are defined and often certified (e.g. ISO, GMP). Existing organisational structures are used to ensure adherence to the Messer Code. Each department, the regional managers and the management bodies have direct responsibility. Thus, each area of responsibility is accountable for ensuring implementation and observation of the Messer Code. The Internal Audit team, supported by Corporate Legal and representatives of other departments, performs regular audits of all national subsidiaries which last several days. During the process, matters pertaining to the Messer Code (e.g. articles of association, rules of procedure, signature regulations, training provided, compliance with the reporting procedures, etc.) are also examined in detail. Individual departments also perform other detailed audits (e.g. SHEQ, Medical, IT). Findings and suggestions for improvement are documented in a report which is submitted to the Messer Group Executive Board.

Follow-up audits are performed within a set time period to verify that the suggested improvements have been implemented.

Every three months, pending and threatened/imminent legal disputes which exceed a certain value/risk are queried centrally and the facts of the case, dispute value, process status, process risk and financial provisions already made or which may prove necessary are recorded. The managing directors/LCOs and BCOs are obliged to inform the CCO of any suspicion of a serious breach of the Messer Code. The CCO shall report to the Messer Group GmbH Executive Board and the Supervisory Board on a regular basis, and on request in specific cases, any serious breaches of the Messer Code of which he or she has been informed in a timely manner or otherwise once a year.

Once a year, all national subsidiaries and corporate departments report any issues relevant for the Risk Report to the Vice President Internal Audit. This is discussed by the Messer Group Executive Board, which then decides on any further measures that may need to be taken. These are then submitted to the Messer Group Supervisory Board along with further explanations as needed for information purposes.

Reporting in the event of compliance infringements and justified cases of suspicion

The managing directors and senior management must organise their area of responsibility such that reports from employees about infringements of applicable law or the Messer Code (“compliance infringements”), as well as justifiable cases of suspicion, can be submitted to them in a timely manner in order to ensure that prompt remedial action can be taken. Part of the reporting process involves creating a report which records the action taken in response to confirmed compliance infringements. This includes a description of how the incident was investigated, how the consequences of the wrongdoing were established and what decision was made regarding further action.

The managing directors must take suitable measures to ensure that all employees are informed about how and to whom breaches of the Messer Code are to be reported, including publishing a telephone hotline number and the compliance e-mail address. A total of 69 suspected compliance infringements were reported in 2017 (previous year: 49 suspected cases). This figure breaks down as follows: 29 in the Western Europe region, 17 in the Southern/Eastern Europe region, 5 in Central Europe and 18 in Asia.

List of Approvals for the Supervisory Body revised

The List of Approvals for the Supervisory Body has been completely revised. Also known as the List of Approvals for short, it is posted together with the CMS documents on the Messer intranet. The list is preceded by general principles. The legal transactions requiring formal approval remain largely unchanged. What has changed are the value thresholds and the persons and/or bodies to be informed and involved, and/or whose approvals are required, for specific legal transactions.

The list clearly stipulates who must be involved under which circumstances and how. It is understood as defining only the minimum required actions in each case. The regional directors can, where necessary, expand those requirements and impose more stringent requirements for a company from their region.

The List of Approvals for the Supervisory Body is a legally binding document of the Messer CMS. It constitutes a mandatory framework for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory provisions and the inter-company and company-internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group.

Company Reputation and Brand Awareness

In contrast to many other businesses and our competitors, “Messer” is not a made-up company name. It is the name of the Messer family and it lends the company, as a family business, and its products a special identity and standing.

The company slogan “Gases for Life” is an integral part of the Messer brand and plays an important role in the international marketing of our products and services. By associating our brand with positive connotations, we are looking to gain long-term competitive advantages through emotional branding.
To this end, we regularly evaluate the Messer brand’s reputation scores and the media response in Germany.

Every year, a telephone survey is carried out in Germany to measure brand awareness. At the end of 2017, 1,068 people took part in the survey in the German cities of Bad Soden, Dortmund, Duisburg, Frankfurt/Main, Freiburg, Hamburg, Cologne, Konstanz, Krefeld, Oberhausen, Siegen and Stuttgart. In response to the unprompted question “Which manufacturers of industrial gases can you name?”, 12.8% of those surveyed answered with “Messer” or “Messer Griesheim”; in the previous year, that figure was 14.3%. As a manufacturer of industrial gases, Messer is particularly well known in the cities of Bad Soden (47%), Siegen (22%) and Krefeld (19%), where Messer is active.

Open Communication with our Stakeholders

The basis for a good relationship characterised by familiarity and trust can only be created through open and honest communication. This is why keeping in regular contact with customers, suppliers, partners, employees, industrial firms and organisations, with the media, our neighbours, the general public and the internet community – and not forgetting our valued retirees – is so important to us. Our communication channels are as varied as the needs of our stakeholders.

Information about the Messer brand, product features or special technologies has to be compiled and made available in a suitable format, and it should be easily accessible. Messer uses a variety of channels to do this.

At Messer, the tools used for external communication are just as important as those used for internal communication. These include our corporate internet, press and public relations work, trade show appearances and exhibitions, image brochures, business reports, sponsoring and a customer magazine entitled “Gases for Life”, which appears quarterly, as well as a website of the same name: www.GasesforLife.de. When it comes to press and public relations work, Messer maintains close contact with both the regional press as well as business and specialist publications and, in particular, with journalists.

In 2017, Messer Group further intensified its public relations work, above all in social media – but also achieved high reach levels in classical media. It issued 25 press releases over the course of the year.

The media response analysis shows that Messer attained a gross reach of 54.9 million people with its publications in independent online and print media. Media reach is determined according to standard criteria to ensure comparability. Gross reach indicates the number of people contacted. In 2016, a gross of 47.7 million people was reached. As in the previous year, all of the reports published about Messer in 2017 were positive and provided an accurate picture of our business activities.

Our company profile at www.messergroup.com

Messer Group’s self-portrait can be found on the internet under www.messergroup.com. With an average of 10,000 visitors accessing our European web pages each week, our internet presence is the ideal platform for finding out more about Messer’s activities, its products, services and applications, as well as to learn about its history and what makes this family business special.

The Annual Report

Messer combines its Group Management Report and its Corporate Responsibility Report in an Annual Report, which is made available both on the internet and in printed form. Messer’s latest Annual and Corporate Responsibility Reports are always available for download from annualreport.messergroup.com.

Our CSR report is audited and certified by the “Global Reporting Initiative” (GRI). The GRI has been in existence since 1999, with one of the founding members being the United Nations Environment Programme. According to the GRI, its aim is “sustainable development through comparability and transparency among companies and organisations”. Any company or organisation that would like to have its CSR report certified by the GRI has to publish up to 120 key performance indicators from ten areas.

These include working practices, social commitment, human rights, ecology and economy. Another partner of ours is the French company EcoVadis. They analyse – also on behalf of some of our customers, such as Coca-Cola – the sustainability of companies based on 21 environmental, social, ethical and supply chain criteria. Coca-Cola has been selecting its suppliers based on these criteria for years, reviewing them once a year. This, in turn, led to Messer’s decision to start producing CSR reports. By achieving our key performance indicators and making them transparent, we can attract the attention of sustainable companies and become their preferred supplier of gases.

All of the annual reports from 1964 to the present day are available for download on the company website www.messergroup.com. The archived annual reports and the outlines of the economic environment in which the company was then operating (written by historian Dr Jörg Lesczenski) chart the economic cycles, the growing intertwining of global economies and the rise of new boom regions that presented Messer Griesheim GmbH (formed in 1965) with increasing challenges in the last third of the 20th century and continue to have a significant bearing on the development of the Messer Group today.

Gases for Life – The industrial gases magazine

Our industrial gases magazine was conceived for readers who are already acquainted with Messer and want to find out more about our diverse business. It is published three times a year in German, English, Hungarian, Slovakian, Spanish and Czech.

Gases in everyday life at www.gasesforlife.de

www.gasesforlife.de gives examples of applications and processes that use gases in all aspects of our lives, such as nutrition, leisure, healthcare, communication, mobility, environmental protection, science and home life. The information is written in a comprehensible manner and aimed primarily at a lay audience, rather than technical experts or those whose work involves the use of gases. The target groups of our website include journalists, teachers, students, school children and consumers. All images and text material can be downloaded for free.

GaseWiki at www.gase.de

GaseWiki is a free encyclopaedia about the world of gases which is written by voluntary contributors rather than by a permanent editorial team. This Messer initiative is intended to provide a structured, comprehensive presentation of knowledge on specific topics as well as information about every aspect of the world of gases. Knowledge is central to GaseWiki: in no way is it attempting to compete with the much bigger Wikipedia, upon which it is modelled. GaseWiki is a collection of pages which thrives through the propagation of knowledge about gas-related topics. Besides reading the pages, any visitor can also edit them or even add new ones.

Messer in social media

Social media are often the first port of call for people who are looking for information about products or a company. Even in times of crisis, the public gets its information via social media channels first. Not all of these networks are available in every country, however, which is why their use can vary significantly from region to region. In order to be able to respond to changing communication habits, Messer Group operates official accounts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Xing, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Many of Messer’s subsidiaries also have an active social media presence where, among other things, they exchange information with friendly organisations and educational institutions.

The video portal YouTube is considered to be the world’s second largest search engine and is the third most frequently visited platform after Google and Facebook. With its vast range and tremendous number of visitors, YouTube is an attractive medium for companies like Messer: it can reach (potential) customers, partners, employees and the general public the world over. For more than four years now, Messer has maintained its own “YouTube channel”, where we offer, among other things, web tutorials. In 2017, these explanatory videos emphasised the secure, safe handling and transport of gas cylinders along with their correct connection. The aforementioned videos are one of the many actions taken within the framework of our “Focus on Cylinders” strategy project.

According to published statistics, 328 million people worldwide currently use the social media platform Twitter. In 2017, Messer Group tweeted 140 times. Those tweets focused on current events involving our “Gases for Life”, whereby the overarching goal was to raise our brand awareness. Our national subsidiaries are active online, too: via Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, Messer Hungarogáz addresses it customers directly: amusing content about gases in everyday life increases brand awareness, while reports on projects, company events and careers reinforce business contacts and help gain new customers and employees.
We use Facebook mainly to publish emotional information reflecting daily life at the company. In December 2017, every day employees from 24 countries posted short videos in their native language. For Messer, this special Advent calendar was a statement for international cooperation and mutual understanding.

Employee communication

The communication strategy, developed by the Messer Group’s Corporate Communications Division together with the communication officers from the (national) subsidiaries, contains communication goals and the measures for achieving them, which are necessary for the implementation and continuity of our corporate strategy.

Messer uses an intranet portal for the purpose of internal communication to which all employees have access. Messer uses the intranet to publish current information about the company, as well as the group’s mission statement and corporate strategy. It also provides access to the Messer Compliance Management System and various other guidelines and manuals. Messer began work on the redesign of the MesserNet portal in 2016. The updated portal was launched in January 2018.

The employee magazine “Messenger” is published quarterly in German and English – in print and in digital form – with one of the four issues being a special print issue. The magazine’s content is divided into three themed sections – Projects, Strategy and People.

In addition to this, Messer communicates highly informative corporate news to all company staff in the form of a timely newsletter issued in German and English via e-mail and the MesserNet.

General Data Protection Regulation

As a result of the worldwide growth of digitalisation, the EU has enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to protect personal data. This regulation will go into effect in May 2018. For the Messer Group, a project team was named to implement these requirements in all national subsidiaries. The team will define and document measures and rules that guarantee sustainable data privacy within the Messer Group.

The scope of the GDPR covers all European and non-European states where personal data are processed in the EU context. Requirements are more stringent and more extensive than those of the German Federal Data Protection Act or other data protection regulations specific to individual German states. Failure to comply with them carries reputational and financial risks that could negatively impact customer and employee trust as well as the integrity of the Messer Group as a business.

With growing public awareness, exposure risk is also increasing: the broad range of publicly available information is drawing more and more attention to the Messer Group. It is becoming easier and less expensive for authorities to implement the regulations. The financial risks have increased significantly: GDPR violations can incur fines of up to 4% of the global annual turnover of the Messer Group.

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