A stroke of good fortune
Robert Wiegandt: from orphan to foster son
Philipp Jakob Wieland took in the orphan Robert Wiegandt – into the family and in the company. He encouraged and challenged him to the best of his ability. Wiegandt took over responsibility as technical manager.
The life of Robert Wiegandt was not a happy one in the beginning. Born in 1831 as the ninth child of the master shoemaker Georg Wiegandt, he lost both parents and his grandfather within one year when he was six years old. He went to the orphanage "Katharinenstift", where the bright boy was at least allowed to attend school in Ulm. There his life took a very happy turn: His best school friend became Louis Wieland, son of Philipp Jakob Wieland and his first wife Fanny, they took care of the orphan boy – and took him into the family.
After finishing school he completed an apprenticeship as a foundryman with Wieland, and he was not spared physically. "He must work all day long in the foundry. He would prefer to study," wrote his foster mother in 1846. Indeed, five years later the apprentice was tired of the craft training and wrote to Philipp Jakob Wieland that he did "by no means consider" what he had learned since then "to be sufficient". He neither was able to go travelling nor was he trained to work in the office. He therefore had to earn his living miserably by the work of his hands or consider to emigrate to America.
He didn't travel that far after – but only as far as the ironworks in Wasseralfingen. He remained in close correspondence with his foster father, and returned to him in the summer of 1854. Probably because Wieland enabled him to do internships in Austria, Saxony, Prussia, Holland and France. He had to skip one station in England because he was called back to Ulm in the summer of 1855 because of the early death of his friend Louis. There he was now urgently needed. After attending the trade school in Berlin, he received a share in the profits of the company. In 1860, he married Philipp Jakob Wieland's niece Fanny Wieland, and was now related to his foster father.
In the same year he was entrusted with the technical management of the newly acquired mill Spitalmühle, and four years later he took over the same function at the new Vöhringen site. After the death of the founder in 1873, when he was granted power of attorney, he was instrumental in many technical innovations which subsequently turned Wieland into a modern industrial company. Appointed Commercial Councillor in 1890, Robert Wiegandt died two years later of heart failure.