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Karl Schlecht is the founder of the concrete pump manufacturing company, Putzmeister, which he established as a family firm in 1958 in Aichtal, near Stuttgart. While still a young engineering student, he designed pumps for large-scale plaster application, and founded Putzmeister after graduation to manufacture them, but he was quickly able to adapt his innovative technology for concrete pumping.
Over the next 50 years, he continued to pioneer technological development in the field and Putzmeister grew to become a global market leader and major corporation with 22 subsidiaries. The majority stake in the firm was transferred to the Karl Schlecht Foundation in 1998.
Among numerous awards and distinctions during his long career, Karl Schlecht was appointed as an honorary senator at the University of Höhenheim in 2002 and later granted an emeritus professorship at Tongji University in Shanghai. He won the Karlsruhe Innovation Prize from the Institute for Technology and Management in Construction, University of Karlsruhe, and was awarded the Diesel Medal for technological innovation in 2010 and the Federal Order of Merit in 2011.