Alpine, Nordic, Hockey

Mourning for the last great leader of the Austrian ski industry. Honorary Councilor of Commerce Josef Fischer is dead

Josef Fischer, recognized as an Honorary Councilor of Commerce in Austria, and the son of the founder of Fischer Sports, LTD who went on to own the company, passed away on August 26th at the age of 90. Though the book of the venerable Josef Fischer’s life has now closed, his life’s work- the last of the great Austrian ski companies- will remain 100% in his family’s possession.

Josef Fischer was born September 12th, 1929, the third child of Maria and Josef Fischer, in the town of Ried im Innkreis. After graduating from the woodworking technical school in Hallein, where he successfully qualified as a carpentry apprentice, Josef Fischer joined his parents’ business in 1949. Within a year he left the business in order to study international trade in Vienna. After earning his degree there, he rejoined the family firm in 1951.

Following the death of his father, Josef Fischer, barely 30 years old, took over leadership of the company together with his sister in 1959. His forward-thinking ideas enabled this visionary to continually conceive of and invent new skis for winter sports. Not only did he bring innovative thinking to all areas of production and marketing, but he fostered a committed team of employees who helped him turn vision into reality. Under his leadership the firm quickly grew into the largest and most modern ski factory in the world and a technological pioneer in the ski industry.

In July of 1973 Josef Fischer took over the sock and knitwear manufacturer Löffler, located in Ried. Production of knitwear was redirected into the creation of top quality functional sportswear, making Löffler an important component of the Fischer-Group.

In 1990 the successful businessman stepped away from day-to-day business, though he remained Chairman of the Supervisory Board till 2003. He finally retired in 2007, still holding a position as a member of the supervisory board in order to maintain close ties with his company.

During his career, Josef Fischer was bestowed the title of Honorary Councilor of Commerce in 1971. Additional awards and honors that followed were the City of Vienna Cross of Merit; City of Ried Honorary Citizenship; the Crystal Pegasus for his lifetime of professional achievement; the Golden Cross of Merit of Upper Austria; and the Silver Cross of Merit from the Republic of Austria. Following his time as President of the Association of Austrian Sporting Goods Manufacturers and Suppliers (VSSÖ) he was made honorary president as well as being named Upper Austrian of the Century.

Josef Fischer carried his passion for and love of ski sports throughout his entire life. Many world famous sports stars, from Austria skiing hero Franz Klammer to the Norwegian king of cross country skiing, Björn Dæhlie, were inextricably bound with the brand and its leader, “Pepi” Fischer, as friends called him. In an interview on the occasion of his 70th birthday, the ski industry giant humbly named Egon Zimmermann’s victory in the 1964 Innsbruck Olympic Games as his own most satisfying experience.

“In Josef Fischer we are losing someone who not only loved ski sports, but who shaped them over decades with his pioneering spirit, his innovations, and his ideas. His passion for ski sports was indescribably immense, and this spirit is firmly entrenched in the company’s foundation to this day,” says Franz Föttinger, CEO of Fischer Sports. “His vision and his entrepreneurial spirit have made the company what it is today. It’s reassuring to all our employees that, even after his death, the current setup as a holding company, which will be maintained by both family foundations, provides us with stability. We will give our utmost to carry on his life’s work, the last great Austrian ski company, as he himself did.”