Helga and Rudi Friedrichs were the joint winners of our 2020 Onboard Hospitality Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award was given in recognition of Helga and Rudi’s dedication to inflight catering excellence for 35 years at Frankenberg. This incredible catering partnership all started in 1985 with a simple dish of roast beef esterhazy, potato dumplings and glazed baby carrots. This was the product that won them their very first airline meal tender.
In April of that year, just after their marriage, businessman, Rudi, and food nutritionist, Helga, took over a bankrupt company producing meals-on-wheels in Würselen, near Aachen in Germany. Recognising that the existing model for this company was unlikely to succeed, the young couple soon saw new markets had to be found. Rudi called holiday carrier, LTU, with an offer to tender. The new business was located in the heart of Europe, so targeting the growing travel and airline sector seemed a perfect fit.
With no real idea about airline catering back then, but with a passion for high quality, healthy good food, and just 12 employees, the Friedrichs convinced the airline to take up the offer. They won business for a one month trial period, catering return flights, and from there, the young company, Frankenberg, went on to produce all hot meals for one of Germany’s biggest carriers.
From its conception, the cornerstone ethic of Frankenberg was never short-term profit, but a focus on adding value in the long-term and to securing a strong base for future generations to build on. It was this core belief that drove the couple to establish long-term, strategic partnerships with customers and suppliers alike. Combined with policies of sustainable development and ongoing investment in latest technologies – Frankenberg has provided consistent tailored meal solutions with total customer care always in mind.
Now, 35 years on, the airline sector remains the company’s primary focus and sustains the beating heart of the company. The team produces in excess of 200,000 meals every day for many of the world’s international airlines, with a team of more than 500 extended ‘family’ members.
Still a family-owned and run company, daughter Laura and husband Sebastian (pictured) joined the management team officially in late 2019 and are now joint managing directors, dedicated to to maintaining the commitment to excellence that is Helga and Rudi’s undoubted legacy.