Our Heartbeat

On the occasion of our 150th anniversary, we collected fascinating Continental Heartbeat Stories.

Mobility makes our hearts beat faster – and has done so for 150 years. 2021 is coming to an end, and with it our Continental Anniversary Year. We can look back on an eventful and, above all, moving year. Even though we were unable to celebrate together in these times, the Heartbeat for Mobility still unites us. Wherever we are, we’re always on the go – to new things every day! This is why we decided this year to look for special stories for the 150th Anniversary. With our Heartbeat Stories we traveled with people who share and live our passion. These are insights into the lives of people connected to Continental – in the most different ways.

Generational change

When Josef Gensler is on the road in his converted MAN Oldtimer truck, the retiree smiles every time he sees one of his old trucks on the road. The former workshop supervisor at Krenzer Paletten worked for his company for around 43 years, and did his job with a love that he experienced daily. But mobility also means that at some point it’s time to hand over to the next generation. “One day, you come to the point. You just have to let go of the reins,” Josef Gensler muses. A handover to the next generation brings change and new energy to a company, shaking it up and driving it forward.

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Krenzer Paletten is a particular example of a long-time customer of Continental which had many successes and changes in almost 100 years of history. The relationships weren’t purely business, as the example of Josef Gensler shows. When Klaus Lederer, Continental regional manager in the Commercial Specialty Tires unit talks about his customers, you quickly see that they are connected by a friendship that goes beyond just business. They sit opposite each other on two stacks of pallets and reminisce about their cooperation.

For 25 years the two have looked together for ways to come up with innovative solutions for the diverse tire needs of Krenzer Paletten. The last major launch Josef Gensler supported before his retirement was equipping a backhoe from the Krenzer fleet with the ContiPressureCheck and ContiConnect digital control systems for measuring tire pressure and temperature. Gensler was immediately enthusiastic about the new systems, even if they didn’t just make friends for him. He took the step together with Klaus Lederer, and success proved him right: “This extends the service life of tires, and as I see it the company makes more money ultimately.” Even if he adds, grinning: “The only problem is that Continental might sell fewer tires.”

The Heartbeat Story of Josef Gensler and Klaus Lederer shows us that a business relationship can lead to real friendship. The strong link between sales and customers is particularly important to Continental, as the tire business is ultimately also about people.

A family story

The second episode in our Heartbeat Stories shows how Continental can shape a family, and particularly the whole family history. Emilia Sá and her family are sitting together in the garden at a richly covered table in an idyllic setting that looks almost like a vacation video. We’re in Lousado in Portugal, where Continental has an important location: Continental Mabor and Continental ITA. The family link to the company is in the fifth generation, and goes back 134 years. “Family is everything! It’s the most important thing,” says Emilia Sá, who’s worked at Continental since 1990 and is an Executive Assistant today.

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Her great grandfather and grandfather were there at the foundation of the location in Portugal, and her father joined them later. People like them have made a decisive contribution to the success and further development of the company locally, which Emilia is particularly proud of: “The values they taught me are the values they learned at Continental, with the very special philosophy.” This is why she followed her father into the company, along with her brother, as for them working at Continental means not only a good and secure standard of living but also an opportunity for new generations.

“Family is everything! It’s the most important thing.”

Emilia Sá, seit 1990 bei Continental
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Mobility means change – and you see that in families too. And different generations of the Sá family have shared and shaped different stages of the company’s growth at the Lousado location. Today, the local plant is one of the biggest production locations in Portugal, with the focus on special tires for agriculture, construction and passenger cars as well as industrial textiles. But the decades of connection with the company mean more to the Sá family than just a relationship with an employer. This is a connection with runs through their daily life, even into retirement. For example, Emilia’s father still goes fishing in his Continental work clothes, from his cap to his jacket to the sunshade.

This Heartbeat Story shows us how a company can move a whole family over time, and become an important element of its identity. The two families, Sá and Continental, have grown and succeeded together. “My family and the Continental family have hardly ever been separated,” Emilia says with a smile, because the location is actually just a five-minute walk from her home. Which makes her all the happier that her son is now employed at Continental too.

For a self-determined future

Our Heartbeat Stories aren’t just about Continental’s employees and customers, but also about projects which are important to us and which we support. These include the UERÊ project in Brazil, which offers pupils the chance to make their own future. This special story gives us a glimpse of the work of Dr. Yvonne Bezera de Mello, founder of the privately financed UERÊ project in Brazil, where she and her school have been working since 1993 to assist socially excluded children and youths from the slum districts of Rio de Janeiro and give them a chance to achieve their dreams. For example the dreams of Cibelle, a student whose passion is fashion. Her dearest wish is to become a designer, because “This is something I always wanted to be, it makes me happy,” she says, smiling while she shows one of her designs. She gets virtual lessons from a fashion designer, all the result of the work of Yvonne Bezera de Mello. But as she knows, “I need partners to carry on.” This is why the project has been supported for several years by Continental. We want to offer the graduates not only financial support, but also prospects for their future career. This is why we’re also offering internships and apprenticeships at two locations in Latin America.

Social responsibility is an important element of Continental’s corporate identity, and as an international company with 560 locations in 58 countries and markets we want to assume global responsibility. We live this corporate philosophy every day in order to achieve a sustainable effect and contribute to a positive change. Mobility also means following your dreams – like Cibelle, who is working toward her goal: “I hope I’ll be able to follow my dreams, that it all works out. That nothing stops me achieving my dreams.”

I need partners to carry on.

Dr. Yvonne Bezera de Mello, founder of the privately financed UERÊ project and partner of Continental

Rocky paths

Our next Heartbeat Story takes us from South America to a little village named Mihăileni in Romania. This is the home of Dr. Corina Apachite, head of the AI department at Continental Automotive Technologies. She grew up in the village with its one thousand or so inhabitants with her grandparents, the local families mostly had to feed themselves and rely on mutual assistance. Her origins have left a lasting mark on Corina, as the opportunities for personal development were limited at the time, and offered virtually no opportunities for a career. But hard work and curiosity about science and technology drove her on and helped her to an impressive career which she can now look back on. Her tireless determination to get on and discover new worlds led her through her computer science studies to Continental. Today, as head of the AI department at Continental Automotive Technologies, she plays a decisive role in designing the mobility of tomorrow. Her focus is on research into artificial intelligence. Corina sees this as an opportunity to lighten employee workloads sustainably. The goal is not to turn people into machines, but to make it unnecessary for people to go on working like machines. It’s a matter of integrating AI into our daily workload, simplifying processes and enabling employees to develop and achieve their goals effectively.

Her passion is primarily the further development of Contadino (Italian  farmer) – a small robot that can use the appropriate algorithms to recognize weeds and spray only these plants with a weedkiller. She is particularly attached to teamwork, as Corina has learned from her past that cooperation is an important driver for success in achieving her dreams.

Corina shows in her story that you have to follow your path, however rocky and difficult it might seem at times. Mobility is apparent here in a tireless drive to get ahead and achieve her dreams – and perhaps make the world a better place in the process.

You can find more Heartbeat Stories here on our Continental Anniversary website.

The Heartbeat Stories were created as a multipart video series for Continental’s 150th Anniversary. The goal is to communicate the passion for mobility of individual protagonists. The stories take us on a journey through multiple continents to give a unique insight into the company. They show again that it’s people and their experiences that shape a company over 150 years and make it successful.