His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain awards José Antolin the Kingdom of Spain Entrepreneurial Career Award
His Majesty the King of Spain presented today the III Edition of the Kingdom of Spain Entrepreneurial Career Award to Burgos-born entrepreneur José Antolin, the founder and Honorary President of Grupo Antolin, in recognition of his exemplary trajectory as an entrepreneur who has made significant achievements in Spain in terms of innovation, internationalization and the generation of employment.
During the event, held at the Monastery of las Huelgas, María Helena Antolin, the daughter of the award-winner and vice-chair of Grupo Antolin, made a speech to thank His Majesty, the promotors and organizers of the event and the jury for this award, which has made everyone at Grupo Antolin extremely happy and proud.
She started her presentation by noting that “the principles that have guided José Antolin’s everyday activities are universal ones. They have driven the development of a specific business project, but they would also be valid for any other company and, of course, for our country. Hard work, honesty, an ambition to excellence and a fundamental commitment to innovation have been the elements of an equation that today has resulted in almost undreamed-of results.”
“The company’s growth is a faithful reflection of its founders, José and Avelino, who managed to form the perfect tandem: while Avelino headed up the more strategic and sales-oriented side of the business, José took charge of innovation and its technological applications. What they both shared was a firm commitment to developing talent within the company, which led to the creation of a fertile wellspring of staff who were equally committed to the project,” noted María Helena Antolin.
As well as innovation, the company’s commitment to its origins has been a fundamental aspect of its development. In this respect, the city of Burgos “has played a key role in the development of José Antolin and his business venture.” For this reason, “it is impossible to appreciate José Antolin without also appreciating his passion and determination to ensure that his project would excel, generate social welfare and help to improve the lives of his fellow citizens,” she continued.
At Grupo Antolin, “we support the internationalization of local companies, which is very important to help them open up new business opportunities and ensure their future viability,” she emphasized. A figure that reflects this fact is that during the 2012-2015 period, purchases allocated to foreign export and originating in Burgos grew by 68%.
Furthermore, wherever there is a Grupo Antolin plant you will always find a Spanish flag waving. “We like to think that by doing this we are also doing our bit for building the Marca España (Spain Brand), of which Your Majesty is the very best ambassador,” noted María Helena Antolin, and “for this reason we would like to thank you for the efforts you make worldwide to showcase the strengths of our country, as well as your efforts to guarantee its unity and stability.”
The award winner: José Antolin Toledano
In 1936, he was born in Quintana del Puente (Palencia), but at a very young age his family moved to Burgos. At the age of 14 he started working alongside his brother Avelino at the garage owned by his father, Avelino Antolin López, at Calle Salas in Burgos, though with an innate vocation as an entrepreneur. This is where the Antolin brothers invented the rubber-metal steering joint by placing a rubber insert in the joint, thus extending its useful life.
In 1959, they created the company ANSA to specialize in steering joints and vehicles suspension systems. The Antolin brothers patented the steering joint and orders started coming in from the leading truck manufacturers in both Spain and abroad. Demand grew so fast that the Antolin family decided to enlarge the former ANSA workshops, becoming the highest quality company of its kind in Europe.
In 1968, ANSA signed a collaboration agreement with Lemförder, the leading German joint manufacturing company, to set up the ANSA-Lemförder, S.A. plant, based in Burgos, in which the brothers were majority partners. This was the launch-pad of their diversification strategy, with the acquisition of licenses to manufacture parts for vehicle interiors such as locks and power windows.
In the 1970s, in collaboration with Italian firm Pianfei, the company started manufacturing headliners for vehicle interiors that incorporated advanced Glasutec technology, based on a polyurethane sandwich. The company continued adding other product lines such as seats (ARA, S.L.), power window systems (Dapsa) and door trims.
In 1985, the Grupo Antolin holding company was created to manage, coordinate and consolidate all the activities of the different companies making up the corporate group. The company was headed by Avelino Antolin Toledano as chairman and José Antolin as vice-chairman.
In 1989, the company decided to adopt a strategy based exclusively on vehicle interiors, which marked the start of an intensive period of internationalization, establishing bases in the world’s most important markets with the opening of more than one plant a year internationally, initially in Europe and then moving into America and finally Asia. All of this was possible by the constant reinvestment of the company’s profits.
In 1995, José Antolin was appointed president of Grupo Antolin following the death of his brother. In 2000, a new line of growth was identified, evolving from single products to a modular system based on a multi-technology approach. In 2015, José Antolin was named Honorary President.
This recognition joins those that have already been awarded to José Antolin on a personal level: Doctor Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic School of the University of Burgos (2013); “Gold Medal from the City of Burgos” awarded by Burgos City Council (2012); “Exemplary Business Man” awarded by the Management Excellence Club (2011); “Gold Medal for Merit in Work” awarded by the Spanish Government (2010); “International Economy Prize 2010 of the Cristóbal Gabarrón Foundation” (2010); “Business Internationalization Award” awarded by the Government of Castile and Leon (2005) and “Businessman of the Year” awarded by the magazine Empresarios CyL (1999).
The award is a reproduction of a medal of merit from the time of Carlos III of Spain, whose original dates back to 1764. The Jury responsible for awarding the distinction, chaired by Marcelino Oreja Aguirre, is made up of distinguished representatives of Spanish civil society: Tom Burns Marañón (essayist and journalist), Adela Cortina (Professor of Ethics, Director of the ETNOR Foundation), Antonio Garrigues (Honorary President of Garrigues), Carmen Iglesias, Countess of Gisbert (Academic and Director of the Royal Academy of History), Emilio Lamo de Espinosa (Professor of Sociology, President of R.I. Elcano), Juan José López Burniol (Notary), Dr Rafael Matesanz (Director of the National Transplant Organization), and Javier Senent García (President of the Spanish Red Cross).