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It remains idea and love | In memory of Dr.-Ing. E.h. Stephan Röthele

06. Feb 2023

The founding shareholder, visionary and Managing Director of Sympatec GmbH System-Partikel-Technik, Dr.-Ing. E.h. Stephan Röthele, passed away on 13 January 2023 at the age of 76. The pioneer of dispersion and measurement of dry particle systems was active as managing director and shareholder until his death, and in recent years his focus has been on shaping the succession of the company and the change of generations. In the management of the still independent and self-determined family business, his son Dr. Sebastian Röthele succeeds him as Managing Director and Shareholder and Dr. Thomas Reck as Chief Technology Officer.

Stephan Röthele received his diploma in Mechanical Process Engineering at the Karlsruhe University of Technology in 1971. Soon after the appointment as a researcher in the Special Research Project 62 of the German Research Foundation he followed his academic supervisor Professor Kurt Leschonski to the Technical University of Clausthal in 1972, entrusted with the development of the Institute of Mechanical Process Engineering as the senior engineer. At the institute his focus was on research and development of dry particle technologies. His first patent was on the invention of a differential pressure probe for isokinetic extraction. Numerous other patents, publications, speeches and presentations highlighted his increasing commitment as a developer and entrepreneur. In the beginning, the main subject were plants for dry sorting, e.g., of pumice and grit, raw materials of car shredding systems as well as recycling plants for old tire and copper cables. His special expertise became dosing, dispersing and measurement systems for particle size analysis. In 1977, Stephan Röthele established his first sole proprietorship for patent exploitation, in 1980 the PANTUC engineering office as a partnership and eventually in 1984 – together with professor Leschonski and the Rieter Holding AG – the limited liability company Sympatec GmbH.

As early as 1985, he was awarded as first scientist the technology transfer prize of the Braunschweig Chamber of Industry and Commerce. In the following year he received also the first technology transfer prize of the German Federal Minister for Education and Science in Bonn. Since then, he was assigned with numerous honours and awards, including the conferment of the honorary doctorate of the Technical University of Clausthal. For his merits in scientific and economic fields he was honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit in 2010. In 2017 he was awarded the Entrepreneur Prize of Region38.

Stephan Röthele leaves behind a very well-developed family business which, as a spin-off from the Technical University of Clausthal, has acquired an outstanding international reputation in the world of particle measurement technology and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024. Sympatec is regarded as a technology leader and pioneer in dry dispersion, impressing with the outstanding quality of its measuring systems, a pronounced proximity to customers and a recognised application expertise that is second to none. Sympatec is the market leader in many demanding and relevant areas of application for its customers. With around 200 employees at more than 20 of its own locations in 12 countries and a network of qualified and long-standing partners, Sympatec has a strong international organisation to open up the industrialised world in more than 80 countries.

In his last years, months and weeks, Stephan Röthele has devoted all his attention and energy to shaping the successful company succession and generation change at Sympatec. With the foundation of the Sympatrie holding company in October 2018 and a consolidation of Sympatec's business shares, a majority of over 80% is now in family hands. In September 2022, Dr. Sebastian Röthele was appointed as co-managing director of the previously sole managing director of Sympatec GmbH, Dr. Stephan Röthele. The son of the company's founder has been with the company since 2011 and, in addition to commercial management, is entrusted with sales and marketing management as well as strategic issues. He is also responsible for the management of the international subsidiaries. The management of Sympatec GmbH was expanded in July 2023 with the addition of Dr. Thomas Reck as Chief Technology Officer, who has been responsible for the technical management of the company since 2018. In the spirit of its founder Stephan Röthele, Sympatec remains a self-determined, owner-managed family business that operates sustainably and is primarily committed to its customers.

In addition to his professional commitment, Stephan Röthele, a self-confessed Upper Harz resident, has supported numerous projects in his region as an initiator, promoter, sponsor or patron – either himself or with his company – under the motto "Secure foundations, promote talent", such as the Braunschweig Classix and Harz Classix music festivals, the renovation of the Clausthal Market Church and its organ, as well as the St. Salvatoris Church in Zellerfeld, the excavation of historical mining sites on his company's premises or the promotion of his alma mater, the Clausthal University of Technology. In addition to art, culture and science, the enthusiastic winter sportsman accompanied the local world-class biathletes Arnd Peiffer and Daniel Böhm from the amateur to the professional level and supported the next generation of winter sportsmen in the Harz region.

His home region of choice loses an outstanding and inspiring personality, as do his company and his professional environment. Stephan Röthele leaves behind his wife, two children and five grandchildren. Family, friends as well as private and professional companions bid farewell in a moving and international funeral service at the Marktkirche in Clausthal on 4 February 2023. On 6 October 2023, a farewell concert "Unfinished Finished" will take place in memoriam as part of the Harz Classix Festival with world star cellist Mischa Maisky with daughter Lily and son Sascha as well as the NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Albrecht Mayer in the Marktkirche zum Heiligen Geist in Clausthal.


Foto: Peter Sierigk