Werner Ricardo Voigt, Eggon João da Silva and Geraldo Werninghaus successful business journey started on September 16th, 1961, when they founded Eletromotores Jaraguá. Years later, the company established by an electrician, an administrator and a mechanic received a new name, Eletromotores WEG SA. The name WEG came from the founders´ initials.
At first, WEG manufactured electric motors only. However, in the 1980s, the company started to expand, manufacturing electrical and electronic components, industrial automation products, power and distribution transformers, liquid coatings, powder coatings and electrical insulating varnishes. The company gained recognition as a supplier of complete industrial electrical systems and not as a motor manufacturer only.
Today, WEG has five major business units: Motors, Energy, Transmission & Distribution, Automation & Coatings. Present in over 100 countries, the company serves all segments of the industry, including oil and gas, mining, infrastructure, steel, pulp and paper, renewable energy, among others. With a headcount of over 29 thousand employees, the company achieved in 2013 a net revenue of BRL 6.8 billion.
Werner Ricardo Voigt (1930-2016)
Born on September 8th, 1930, son of German immigrants coming from the Düsseldorf region, Werner Ricardo Voigt always had electricity in his mind. Ever since he was a boy, Werner knew that wires, dynamos, generators and coils would be a part of his life. By the age of six, he had already showed how interested he was in electricity and created complete sawmill models.
Still during his childhood, Werner’s reading pleasure was awakened by his grandfather, a builder and teacher who received numerous technical books and magazines from Germany. Another great influence on his education was Purnhagen, an electrician and musician who personally tutored him in the technical and artistic areas, starting at the age of 14. Werner end up becoming a skilled clarinetist.
As a teenager, he moved to Joinville, where he attended SENAI [the National Service for Industrial Training] and worked at Werner Strohmeyer’s shop. At the age of 18, he got into the army in Curitiba. At the end of his military service, he was one of the two soldiers selected to go to the Federal Technical School, where he specialized in radiotelegraphy and electronics.
Upon his return to Joinville, he worked at Empresul for two years, an electric energy utility company. At the age of 23, he worked for “Kanning & Weber” shop. In September 1953, however, Werner started his own business, founding a small shop in Jaraguá do Sul downtown area.
The shop evolved, providing general services that ranged from working on electrical appliances to working in households and farms in the surrounding area. In addition to that, Werner was the only maintenance person of about two dozen motor vehicles of Jaraguá and some neighboring towns.
He would assemble radios and radiolas, install generators, rewind motors and generators, supervise the installation of water wheels. This made his establishment a one-stop shop for all the needs in the region. The amount of work kept on increasing, so he hired new assistants. By 1961, the shop had a workforce of eight employees.
Eggon João da Silva (1929-2015)
Born in 1929, in the town that is now Schroeder, north of Santa Catarina, Eggon João da Silva started to work at the age of 13, as a handyman at a notary public in Jaraguá do Sul. In 1957, after 14 years working for the largest bank in the state, he became a partner at João Wiest & Cia. Ltda., a company with 8 employees specialized in the production of exhaust pipes for vehicles. Four years later, Eggon left the company, which by the time had a workforce of 150 employees to face the biggest challenge of his career.
In April 1961, together with Werner Ricardo Voigt and Geraldo Werninghaus, he founded WEG, which manufactured only electric motors. Eggon played a leading role in defining the course of the company. By 1989, it was one of the largest companies in the industry, renowned in the national and international markets.
From electric motors, WEG started to diversify the products, manufacturing complete industrial electric systems, including generators, transformers, industrial automation components and systems.
Eggon João da Silva’s journey is not linked to WEG only. The businessman was member of the board of directors of four large companies – Oxford, Tigre, Marisol, and Perdigão. The last-mentioned, he served also as CEO from 1994 to 1995, when he faced the challenging task of prompting the company’s financial recovery. After that, he was president of the Board of Directors of the WEG Group until April 2007, when he handed the position over to his son Décio da Silva.
Geraldo Werninghaus (1932-1999)
Born in Rio do Sul, Geraldo Werninghaus began his professional career at Werninghaus & Filhos, his father’s repair shop in Joinville. At the age of 14, as an apprentice, the universe of lathes, milling machines, grease, and tows was already part of his daily life. Following the strict German discipline and with the strong paternal influence of two generations dedicated to the same profession, he soon discovered he had the same vocation.
From the age of 14 to 27, Geraldo Werninghaus uncovered the secrets of mechanics having other jobs. He worked for Indústrias Vahldick in Blumenau. In 1951, still in Blumenau, he served in the army. At the age of 20, he went back to Joinville to work with his father.
He left Werninghaus & Filhos in 1961 to found WEG in Jaraguá do Sul, together with Werner Ricardo Voigt and Eggon João da Silva and took on an active role in the development of the company, contributing to make it a reference in Brazil.
After leaving his executive activities at WEG and his position at the Board of Directors – taken in 1989 – Geraldo started a new and promising public career. As a person devoted to his work and community, he decided to go into politics, becoming a city councilor, state congressman and finally mayor of Jaraguá do Sul. His term in office ended on December 31st, 2000.