November 19th 2015

From family business to global player.

Erich Sixt, CEO and Controlling Shareholder of SIXT SE in Pullach, Germany

The Entrepreneurial School® was particularly proud to welcome Erich Sixt as guest lecturer in the MCI Alumni & Friends series of lectures: Managing the world’s leading car rental company in third generation, the entrepreneur held an inspiring talk which suited the recent establishment of the Center for Family Enterprise at MCI.

Although Erich Sixt cannot offer a universally valid formula for success, he wants to provide young entrepreneurs with three pieces of advice. These are based on years of entrepreneurial experience: In the 1960s, Sixt took over his family’s business with 20 rental cars and an annual turnover of approximately one million Deutschmark, and led it to success. Today the company Sixt SE owns more than 250.000 rental cars world-wide and produces an annual turnover of two billion euros.

The first advice Sixt offers is to be hungry for success. You need an ambitious goal and a clear vision of what you want to achieve in order to be successful. As a young entrepreneur you are additionally expected to trust in yourself and be ready to venture into new directions. In the mid-70s Sixt therefore chose to expand his father’s local car fleet based in Munich and entered the leasing business. His bold decision proved to be a great opportunity for the advancement of the company. Erich Sixt’s self-confidence as chief executive is also visible in occasionally provocative advertisements, with which he aims to establish the rental car company as a successful premium supplier. Last but not least, Sixt is convinced that successful entrepreneurs also require a sense of responsibility for their employees, investors, and shareholders. These are the factors which, according to Sixt, form the foundation on which entrepreneurs can reach decisions for the benefit of their companies.

With the three key factors – self-trust, courage, and responsibility - in mind, Sixt has also been able to overcome several periods of economic difficulties, such as the Eurozone crisis, which hit EU member states in 2008. As chief executive and main shareholder of Sixt SE, Erich Sixt considers entrepreneurs, including himself, as “the last adventurers of the planet”. He thus encourages his sons to take over the management of the company in fourth generation. Their focus will probably shift towards car sharing, which Sixt believes to be the future of the car rental sector. In order to conquer new markets, his sons will moreover expand the business activities with respect to new-car sales and leasing.

Anita Zehrer, expert for tourism and lecturer at MCI, takes over the moderation of an animated discussion sparked by Sixt’s talk.