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Sustainability and community at the heart of Knauf

Sustainability and community at the heart of Knauf

Knauf is a multinational corporation with operations around the world, including Tanzania. As such, sustainability and community are core components of the brand’s identity and business practices. The two leaders of the company, Alexander Knauf and Manfred Grundke, share their thoughts on these two factors and reveal how they form core pillars of Knauf’s global success.

Knauf is a family business. “As such, we do not think on a short-term scale but rather from generation to generation. This means that long-term thinking is built into everything we do,” explains Knauf. “It includes responsible treatment of resources. This can mean how we treat the environment, how we treat the resource of time – in other words, our employees – but also the way we treat capital,” he adds.

His outlook is shared by Grundke. “Corporate responsibility and sustainability do not represent any special challenge to a family business. Sustainability forms part of how a family business sees itself. While a publicly listed company is guided principally by the return on the capital it invests, a family business also pays particular attention to an orderly transfer of its assets to the next generation. The natural result of this process is that all decisions are based on sustainable factors and not on the short term,” he says.

Natural resources are important to Knauf

The company strives to rehabilitate quarries once the gypsum has been extracted. “Sustainability has a very special status at Knauf, as our natural resources are hidden in quarries. Here, we attach great importance to recultivation after we have finished using the quarry. There are a lot of positive examples showing how quarries used on an industrial scale have later been turned into real biotopes,” explains Grundke. 

Knauf adds to this explanation. “It looks at first as if we are interfering with nature, but we are able to turn our actions into a benefit. A re-naturalised quarry is a biotope with higher species diversity than was previously present. By doing this, we want to show that it’s not just a question of mining resources but of achieving lasting success by working with people and the environment,” he states.

Community is core pillar of the company

Working alongside local communities in the many countries in which Knauf operates is highly important. The company aims to improve lives, not take away from them. “For example, if a company in the Knauf Group were to plunder raw materials to save mining costs, it would very quickly get into trouble with the local community or the region. For us it is important to run our business together with the communities in the various regions and not at their expense,” argues Grundke.

“We attach great importance to making Knauf attractive to the best potential employees. Many highly qualified graduates decide to join a family business because here, they can see the results of their work sooner than if they are just a number in a major corporation. We also do a lot when it comes to looking after our employees. A major part of our annual staff meeting is when we honour those celebrating special anniversaries who have shown themselves true to the company through many years of competent, loyal service,” explains Grundke. 

Looking forward to the future, Knauf believes that the company will remain successful. “So far, Knauf has always demonstrated the ability to adapt to changes in the surrounding conditions. But one thing is pretty certain: if we keep the dynamism and adaptability that we have shown over the last 80 years, a large part of the value-added will be coming from Knauf,” he concludes. 


Knauf is a German manufacturer of gypsum plasterboard that has operations in Tanzania. We use local materials to produce high-quality drywall products for the construction industry. Knauf takes pride in the quality of products and services that we provide to customers.

We have a world-class team of researchers that have developed ecologically-sound structures and earthquake-resistant systems and materials. These construction solutions are internationally patented and are now available to Tanzanian contractors.
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