Wolfgang Spelthahn, district administrator of the Düren district, presented the Federal Cross of Merit to Dr. Stephan Kufferath, Director at GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG (GKD), on behalf of German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. This prestigious award honors Dr. Kufferath’s decades of voluntary commitment to the regional economy and society. The doctor of economics and his brother, Ingo, are the third generation of the Kufferath family to manage the GKD business, which they have been running since 1989.
In parallel to assuming management responsibility at GKD, Stephan Kufferath was elected as a member of the Plenary Assembly at the Chamber of Industry & Commerce in Aachen. Just one year later, he then took up the Chair of the Committee on External Economic Relations, a position he held until 1998. He has been Vice President of the Chamber of Industry & Commerce since 1998 and, at the same time, Chairman of the Düren Regional Committee. In 1992, the Employers’ Association of the Regional Metal Industry for Düren, Jülich, and Euskirchen then elected him as Chairman, a position he also continues to hold to this day. In 1998, Stephan Kufferath also took over the Chair of the United Industry Associations (VIV) for the Düren, Jülich, and Euskirchen region. He has initiated many projects over a period of 20 years in this role. His focus here was always on educational work to secure the competitiveness of companies and ensure that junior staff could get the training they need. After no longer standing for the position of Chairman in the 2018 election, the member companies appointed him Honorary Chairman in recognition of his dedication and many years of service. Stephan Kufferath has also worked on the Executive Board at Metall NRW since 1995, holding the position of Vice President since 2006. Having started in 1999, he remains active to this day as a commercial judge in the 1st Chamber for Commercial Affairs at Aachen District Court. Thanks to his global contacts – the GKD Director spends 200 days a year traveling the world on business – the district of Düren also appointed him Commercial Ambassador in 2013. In this role, he promotes the region and the companies based there. “With this award, the Federal President is expressly honoring a passionate businessman,” said Wolfgang Spelthahn.“ Ingo Kufferath, who manages the company together with the person being honored here today, summed up his thoughts when he said: “I am truly proud of my brother!“ In his acceptance speech, Stephan Kufferath stressed that he has always sought to help those close to his own professional environment when selecting his honorary offices. Even after spending 29 years as a member of the Plenary Assembly at the Aachen Chamber of Industry & Commerce, some 20 years of which were spent as Vice President, he: “(…) remains convinced by the concept of the plenary assembly as the parliament of the business community” and is proud of the contributions that the chamber has made and continues to make to the economy in the region. His commitments at employers’ associations, which he maintains to this day, have been particularly important to him as a socio-political arm of corporate interests. At the German and European wire weaving industry associations, both he and his brother worked together to establish standards, rules, and norms in the sectors and secure the interests of customers. Overall, however, his duties as a commercial judge were what he enjoyed the most and brought him the greatest learning success. Addressing his ability to combine the numerous honorary offices he has held with his duties as a business leader, Stephan Kufferath said that this is obviously much easier at a family business, “(…) when you can share the ultimate responsibility in a trusting relationship with your family, in my case with my brother.“