Rolf C. Hagen was a pillar in the pet products industry who touched many lives with his generosity and compassion.
Montreal, Canada – October 24, 2011 – Rolf C. Hagen, Founder and Chairman of Rolf C. Hagen Inc., passed away suddenly yet peacefully at his home in Montreal surrounded by his loving wife Marianne and grandson Justin on Saturday, October 22, 2011.
Rolf C. Hagen was born in 1932, the third of 10 children, in a small seaside town in northern Germany.
In 1955, inspired by a simple idea, he came to Canada and sowed the seeds of Rolf C. Hagen Inc., which blossomed to become one of the world’s largest family-owned manufacturers and distributors of pet care products.
He started by acquiring bird seeds from the Canadian prairies and exporting them back to Germany. His small export business eventually flourished and branched out into a solid, well-respected pet supplies business that today spans many continents.
Soon after setting up his business in Montreal, his focus turned to the most significant import of his life: a beautiful young woman named Marianne Koch, whom he met in Hamburg and married in Montreal in 1959.
His brothers Dieter and Horst subsequently joined the company, both of whom brought new energy and innovation to the company, taking it to new heights of success. The trio formed the first generation of an internationally successful family-based company that is now managed by Rolf C. Hagen’s three beloved sons, Mark, Tom, and Rolf Jr.
Mr Hagen was a tireless force who was actively involved as Chairman of Rolf C. Hagen Inc. right up until the day preceding his sudden passing.
Those who did business with Mr Hagen were often inspired by his simple and ethical approach to commerce, often sealing business deals with his firm handshake and honouring them with his word, which was as good as gold.
In his lifetime, Mr Hagen was honoured with many awards in the pet products industry. In June 1999, he was inducted into the American Pet Products Association Hall of Fame, the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual in the pet industry. In March 2004, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pet Industry Distributors Association in recognition for innovative design of pet products and for his generous support of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people. He is the only person in the pet products industry who is a recipient of both awards.
In 1996, he received The First Cross of the Federal Order of Merit from Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz der 1. Klasse). In 2005, he was awarded The Highest Order of Merit (Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band) from the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest honour that Germany can bestow upon a civilian.
Yet even with all his business successes and accolades, Rolf C. Hagen remained a humble and altruistic man who did not lose touch with many of life’s timeless and enduring values: love, kindness, humility, compassion, and generosity. Though he soared in business, he was deeply grounded in his love for humanity and pets, giving away much of what he amassed to individuals, schools, hospitals, churches and charitable organizations in Canada as well as all over the world.
Helen Keller wrote that it is better to walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light. In addition to being an icon in the pet products industry, Rolf C. Hagen will also be remembered for being a true friend who was always there for those who walked in the dark.