65 years as independent entrepeneur

Gauselmann Group founder and gaming innovator Paul Gauselmann turns 88

Paul Gauselmann.
Reading time 3:43 min

Gaming industry innovator Paul Gauselmann has turned 88. The German businessman, founder and CEO of Gauselmann Group, celebrated his birthday on August 26. The pioneer, who first came to the town of Espelkamp 66 years ago –where the company is headquartered–, is also looking back on his trajectory as an independent entrepreneur for a good 65 years.

The corporate group Gauselmann founded has achieved international success and has led to the creation of almost 15,000 jobs. The company reaches total annual sales revenues of over €3.5 billion ($3.5 billion), standing “for a unique life's work that the founder and Gauselmann Group Chairman continues to hone.”

Gauselamnn's first steps

Born in 1934 near Münster (Westphalia), Gauselmann's success story began with an apprenticeship as a telecommunications inspector, a press release recalls. After seven years as an employee, he ventured into part-time self-employment in 1957 installing jukeboxes. This marked the birth of the Gauselmann Group and culminated in 1964 in full business independence. The years spent as an employee would shape him for the rest of his life. 

He worked for eight years as a development technician in the vending machine industry, four of them as head of development. In this role, he had constant insight into the areas of manufacturing and sales. He received great support from his senior boss Wilhelm Harting, for whom vending machines were “a true affair of the heart” until his premature death in 1962. 

“This time showed Paul Gauselmann that the most important resource for any company is its employees and that their satisfaction depends to a large extent on showing appreciation,” says a statement. “It's not unusual to find him in the office corridors taking the time for an interesting chat with an employee, personally attending the annual meeting of the Merkur Seniors, or entering into dialogue with trainees and apprentices at the traditional entrepreneurial talk.”

According to the group he founded, Gauselmann’s success story is representative of a post-war Germany with new business opportunities that made such advancements possible. It was a time for innovative ideas, which Gauselmann showed with the founding of the first Spielothek in 1974.

"I had the idea to turn the few box rooms of the former gambling hall into a gaming venue in the style of a three- or four-star hotel – with carpeting and hydroculture. A super idea as it turned out, and one that the whole industry jumped at," says the company patriarch

Three years later, a new milestone came with the first proprietary slot machine, the “Merkur B,” which “eclipsed all competing products with more gaming fun”. "I knew that this was the beginning of a new era," Paul Gauselmann recalls.

The company achieved a leading market position by 1985 with a market share in excess of 50%, which it still “defends to this day” by focusing on gamers’ need and responding promptly to technical innovations, according to the business. “Many development departments from Australia to the USA with a total of around 1,000 employees are exemplary proof that outstanding ideas continue to be the basis of success,” says Gauselmann Group.

In his lifetime, the company’s founder has registered some 300 patents, thanks to “an inventive spirit and entrepreneurial foresight." He still shows that “drive and dedication” to this day, although now at a reduced four-day week, and by having advanced the group’s internationalization and continuously expanding activities in the casino segment.

Social responsibility and initiatives

With a 65-year career with the group, Gauselmann Group is the company’s longest-serving employee. “In more than six decades, he has created an entertainment giant that enjoys success with its own games and machines, operates gaming venues across Europe and, in addition to land-based casinos and casinos on cruise ships, also has new online gaming and sports betting future markets in its portfolio,” the company’s statement adds.

Paul Gauselmann has created a corporate empire while at the same time looking out for his fellow citizens. With heart and soul, he is committed to supporting projects and initiatives in the field of preventive health care in the district,” the group further notes.

These initiatives include a medical robot-assisted surgery lighthouse project, which Paul Gauselmann together with his wife Karin have financed with the acquisition of the "da Vinci X" surgical robot for the Lübbecke site. Additionally, every year, the Paul and Karin Gauselmann Foundation provides financial support to hundreds of social and cultural projects, initiatives, clubs, groups and private individuals in the region surrounding the company's headquarters. 

In recognition of his achievements, Gauselmann was awarded the First Class Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany as well honorary citizenship of the towns of Espelkamp and Lübbecke. For his decades-long work in the vending machine industry for 53 years since 1966, including 38 years as Chairman of the German Amusement and Vending Machine Industry Association (VDAI), he was honored with the VDAI honorary presidency.

"Whether on the Management Board, the Supervisory Board or within the context of the Foundation – my family is both privately and professionally the most important pillar in my life," Paul Gauselmann stresses. "What's more, my four sons have each in their own field contributed significantly to the present success of the Gauselmann Group. I would like to say a very special thank you to my wife Karin, who has encouraged and stood by me for 55 years."

“Online gaming is set to change the industry – and Paul Gauselmann has long had ideas for ensuring the Gauselmann Group's success in this environment, too,” a statement from the company adds, highlighting Gauselmann Group’s intentions to remain up to date with current trends.

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