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Success Stories Franz Josef Popp: The Founder of BMW Company

Franz Josef Popp (January 14, 1886 in Vienna-July 29, 1954 in Stuttgart) was one of the three people who founded the company of BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG or and first Director of BMW AG from 1922 to 1942.

Success Stories Franz Josef Popp: The Founder of BMW Company


Some other names are also included into the "inventor" of BMW AG. Without the presence of Karl Rapp, Gustav Otto, Max Friz or Camillo Castiglioni, perhaps the company would never have formed. But, Franz Josef Popp can be claimed because he who developed the company we know today. He is a "Director" of the company since the company's inception until he was forced to retreat from his position in 1942.

After the success of the BMW IIIa aero motor, it was decided that the Board Manager Rapp Motorenweke ended Karl Rapp’s contract. Franz Josef Popp was appointed Director of the company, while, the company name changed from Rapp Motoren Werke Motorenweke become Bayerische GmbH. Should signify a new beginning with the outside world. 

After conversion into a joint stock company, he was head of Bayerische Motoren Werke as Chairman of the Board of management by the Director General of the title. At the end of the First World War, Popp switched the young company from aircraft engine production to peacetime production. With this goal in mind, he worked to create links with Knorr Bremse AG, and from 1919 onwards, the factory produced brake Knorr for the Bavarian Railway.

In 1922, Popp transferred the most important patents, machinery, and personnel for the manufacturing of machine "with the umbrella of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG", the same as the company name "Bayerische Motoren Werke AG" He is assisted. Sought by the financier Camillo Castiglione Austria. In this way, he could break free from Knorr Bremse AG and began construction of the machine once again.

The emergence of BMW for one in Bavaria Germany large companies and industry began in 1922 under Popp's management of it. Various products of BMW AG expanded and soon exceeded the engines for the aircraft industry to include motorcycles as broader part of the population gained access to motorized transport. This is the area that gives attention to Popp. Under his leadership, the BMW AG further expands its product diversity and knowledge in 1928 by purchasing the vehicle manufacturing factory Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach (FFE). This is the first time that the cars bore the brand BMW on roads.

In 1928, Popp also concluded a licensing deal with the US American company Pratt & Whitney, allowing BMW to manufacture two radial cooling air machine. This ensures that the BMW has access to key knowledge in a field of aircraft construction machine with a big future. The expertise gained through production under license allowed BMW to develop radial air conditioner engine under its own steam during the 1930s. 

BMW aircraft engine factory in Wallach (1935), expansion of the facilities of the factory in Eisenach (1937) and the acquisition of the Brandenburg Motor Work (BRAMO) in Berlin-Spandau allows BMW to expand its capacity to manufacture aircraft engines under the leadership of Popp it.   

After the acquisition of BRAMO in 1939, BMW enjoyed a monopoly for the production of air-cooled aircraft engines in Germany. This makes the BMW Company for the airline industry as the Third Reich rearmed Germany. However, Popp was skeptical of the rapid expansion and redirection of the company for arming Germany to prepare for war.

This reservation is not motivated. Even though Popp admitted that he joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933 under pressure from Gauleiter Wagner, head of the Bavarian administrative district, he is keeping his distance from the party. Looking back, he states that join the party long after the National Socialists seized power only aims to prevent deletion as General Director of BMW.

In February 1936, the leader of a local group of the National Socialist Party started a process to exclude Popp from the party. This is based on the notion that despite warnings, Popp continued to allow his family to be treated by a family doctor. After a "warning" official of the Court of Munich, Popp Party declared the matter to rest, not least to prevent this problem from Office increased and jeopardized as Chairman of the Board of management of BMW AG.  

Popp was skeptical when BMW changed the focus of production to produce aircraft engines. He thinks if the company is busy with preparations for war, then this will have an impact on corporate profits. but all the decisions have been determined by the National Socialist rulers. 

In June 1940, he wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Emil Georg Von Strauss. He explained that the situation could threaten the existence of the company BMW. So he was asked about the possibility to cancel produce aircraft engines. If BMW produces air weaponry, it will lead to a lack of space for entrepreneurial innovation. This case will weaken the position of the group management. It will also interfere with the position of Franz Josef Popp, who has made the company to be independent and autocratic.

While the war lasted, the increasing shortage of labor and raw materials combined with the raw materials procurement policy of the Department Reich Air makes BMW could not meet production targets demanded. This makes becoming tense atmosphere between Popp and Erhard Milch in the Air Ministry. Supervisory General Aviation (Erhard Milch) felt slighted by Popp action and accused him of refusing to perform their duties and sabotage. Because Popp management style that has led to a significant strain on the Board of Management of BMW before the dispute with the ministry, the Supervisory Board strives to resolve conflicts by giving Popp leave in January 1942. To avoid public speculation about management changes, Popp was appointed to the Supervisory Board. This makes him unable to influence the course of the company.

In May 1945, Popp was re-appointed by the Supervisory Board on the Board of Management. One month later, the Allies caught it being perceived as a military leader of Economics (because he had helped the Nazis in the war). During the identification as a Nazi process, he defined as "nominal member of the Nazi party". Then he appealed and decided that he is a "pure" (not a member of the Nazis). 

Franz Josef Popp then once again tried to join the Board of Bayerische Motoren Werke's Management. However, his efforts really work and moved to Stuttgart marked the end of this ambition. Popp died there on 29 July 1954.

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