Following his father's death in 1959 Josef Fischer, not yet 30 years of age at the time, succeeds him at the helm of the company. With his innovative and forward-thinking ideas "Mister Ski" reinvents this piece of winter sports equipment again and again. Under his leadership Fischer grows quickly to become the biggest ski factory in the world. Today Fischer is the last Austrian ski company under family ownership. And at the top, Josef Fischer is the last living ski kaiser.
Josef Fischer is born in Ried im Innkreis on 12 September 1929 as the third child – after sisters Erna and Selma – of Maria and Josef Fischer. From 1935 to 1943 he attends primary and secondary school in Ried, in 1944/45 he is drafted into the Reich Labour Service at the age of 15.
After attending wood science college in Hallein, which he finishes as a qualified journeyman carpenter, Josef Fischer starts work at his parents' company in 1949. He leaves the company the same year, however, following differences of opinion with his father. He then completes a course at the world trade college in Vienna and returns to the company in 1951. In 1955 Josef Fischer marries Gertrude Strasser, and daughter Silvia is born. Daughter Jutta is born in 1957 and is followed by three more daughters: Cornelia, Alexandra and Martina. Josef Fischer senior dies in February 1959 and Josef Fischer junior and his sister Selma take over the general management of the company. The company pension for sister Erna is paid out in a single lump sum.
After taking over the company, Josef Fischer turns it into the biggest ski factory in the world. It is above all the innovative ideas of the company supremo which make Fischer the technological pioneer in the ski industry. From 1968 to 1987 Josef Fischer is president of the VSSÖ, the Austrian Association of Manufacturers of Sporting Goods and Equipment Providers. In 1988 the VSSÖ makes him honorary president. He is awarded the title Kommerzialrat in 1971. This is followed by the Cross of the Order of Merit of the City of Vienna, freedom of the city of Ried, the “Crystal Pegasus” lifetime achievement award as an entrepreneur, the Golden Cross of the Order of Merit of the Province of Upper Austria and the Silver Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Austria.
In 1990 Josef Fischer withdraws from the operative side of daily business but remains chairman of the supervisory board until 2003, before relinquishing his position as a simple member and leaving the board entirely in 2007. In 1995 he moves his main place of residence from Ried to Weyregg am Attersee, where he still lives with his partner Sylvia Charlotte Schachl.
The secret of the last ski kaiser’s success? On the occasion of Josef Fischer’s 60th birthday Ernest Simharl describes it as follows: “Josef Fischer thinks and gets ‘inside the ski’. It began when he was a boy and continues unabated. Whenever and wherever he picks up something of interest he starts to think how it could be implemented in the design or manufacture of skis … You could call it natural talent, being able to sound out techniques, processes and materials to find out whether they are suitable for use in making skis. But it is not until you get to grips with it systematically, go through the thought processes and experiments which constantly hover around you and do not settle until you find the key, that this kind of success becomes possible.
Even qualified ski engineers are astounded that he always manages to find new means and ways of improving this seemingly ‘complete’ piece of equipment. Even though he sometimes says himself that he would have been successful in another job, too, this is without doubt a forgivable misjudgement on his part: he was born to be Mister Ski!”