Reichle & De-Massari AG (R&M), a global developer and provider of copper and fiber connectivity infrastructure for data and communications networks, has named Thomas A. Ernst as the new chairman of the company's board of directors.
Ernst steps in to replace the retiring Hans Hess -- and becomes only the third board chairman in the company’s history. R&M was founded in 1964; the departing Hess served as board chairman for 15 years.
Hess's tenure saw R&M expand from a regional to a global organization. Under his leadership, the company's number of international production plants increased from 2 to 14, and its number of employees grew from 600 to 1,800.
R&M owners Martin and Peter Reichle commented:
“Hans Hess is greatly appreciated. He accompanied our family business for many years as our father’s successor. We owe the successful generational change to his knowledge, experience of industry, and strategic foresight. He was instrumental in shaping the R&M Group’s clear orientation toward sustainable and global growth. R&M owes a lot to his management experience and his knowledge of the international technology markets.”
Ernst comes to R&M from engineering company Gruner AG, where he was also board chairman. Under his leadership, Gruner grew from 300 to 1,000 employees since 2001.
According to a press release, since 2002, Ernst was CEO of ABB Installationen AG, from which the ETAVIS Group was formed, until its integration into VINCI Energies Schweiz AG in 2007; and then VINCI Energies Switzerland and Italy until 2019.
Ernst graduated as an engineer in Building Technology and studied at the University of Applied Sciences of Central Switzerland. He also completed leadership and executive training at IMD Lausanne, the Management Center of Bern University of Applied Sciences, and the Business School of London.
His focus is on corporate development with organic and external growth and strategic realignments.
“R&M is changing significantly from a component manufacturer to a global provider of complete infrastructure solutions for data centers, smart buildings, FTTx, and 5G networks. This is an important step. I look forward to tackling and implementing future strategic tasks together with the board of directors and the executive board.”