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The personified sun

Johannes Gutmann, head of SONNENTOR Kräuterhandels GmbH

From farmers son to businessman

Round, red glasses and casual "Lederhosen" – these are the trademarks of this successful businessman. Johannes Gutmann, managing director of SONNENTOR Kräuterhandelsgesellschaft mbH, doesn’t fit any clichés.
He is neither the business economist in a suit and tie, nor the ascetic follower of handknitted woollen jumpers and sandals – but without doubt, an ingenious businessman who lets the sun shine with his engaging, natural manner.

From market stall holder to trademark

Gutmann grew up with four siblings on his parent’s, Berta und Ignaz Gutmann, farm in Waldviertel in Lower Austria. Taking over his parent’s farm was never a point of discussion for him, "I definitely wanted to go down a different path", the successful businessman says retrospectively. However, after his final examinations at the age of 20, Johannes Gutmann wasn’t drawn to big cities like Vienna or Linz, he was absolutely certain about staying in his home, however the need of new ideas was there. Although at first laughed at by his family and the farmers of the region when he suggested to market their organic products under one joint brand, Gutmann held on to his idea. He developed a logo and packaging for the organic herbal products and went around the local markets. "You need to believe in you ideas", the organic spezialist resumes and adds, "soon everyone in the region knew me as the peculiar guy with the Lederhosen". Word of mouth soon made his small enterprise known and increasingly interesting for the herb growers in the region.

From individual competitor to head of family

Soon, more and more herb growers showed interest in Gutmann’s idea and were happy to put the SONNENTOR label on their products, which also carried their names on the logo with the laughing sun, therefore acknowledging their work. Up to this day the farmer’s and their family’s identities are important for Johannes Gutmann, photos of Elfriede Huber, the Grünstäudl family, Kurt Kainz and of many other farmers who have been supporting Johannes since he started his venture, can be found everywhere around the company premises. Johannes Gutmann never talks about "his" success, but about "our" achievements.
Gutmann bases life in a community on the principle "live and let live".

From One-Man-Show to Global Player

120 farmers are part of the large SONNENTOR-family. They supply the company, which currently exports to 40 countries worldwide, with tons of herbs and other raw materials. Johannes still doesn’t lean back in his seat, but talks about new goals. "I am convinced that we only use about 20% of our potential and I would like to extend SONNENTOR further", the organics specialist says. But the company leader’s maxim is "Class instead of Mass", and this is the reason why the company puts emphasis largely on quality management.

From expert to gourmet

Not only does Gutmann’s quality management require that all products come from certified organic farming, are free of colour, preservatives and artificial aroma additives and are carefully processed into over 600 products, but also that each product can be traced back to the farm where the raw materials were cultivated, that the farmers do a big part of the processing and packaging directly on their farms, that a greater part of the work is still done by hand, not machines, that the farmers in Austria and other countries can live on their proceeds and that all co-workers identify strongly with the company philosophy and enjoy and take pride in their work, so that the great taste of natural ingredients is preserved in every cup of coffee and every spice blend.