Pet industry pioneer Rolf Hagen passed away in his home in Montreal, Canada on Saturday, October 22. Born in 1932, Hagen started the idea of the company in 1955 when he began exporting bird seeds from the Canadian prairies and exporting them back to Germany, his home country.
Starting as a one-person business, Hagen was joined by his two brothers Dieter and Horst, turning the company into one of the largest and privately run pet manufacturer and distributor in the world. Early on the company ventured into the aquarium side of the industry and soon expanded to be one of the largest aquarium and fish care companies that included product lines like Hagen, Fluval and AquaClear.
The company began building glass aquariums in 1974 and in 1994, the Hagen Liquid Products facility began operations and now uses cutting-edge technology to produce aquatic supplements, pond conditioners, and test kits.
The following is the obituary published in the Montreal Gazette:
Rolf C. Hagen was a pillar in the pet products industry who touched many with his generosity and compassion.
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Rolf C. Hagen, who left us 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 emerging family-based company that would later include Rolf C. Hagen’s three beloved sons, Mark, Tom, and Rolf Jr.
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.
Over the years, 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 both pets and people. He is the only individual in his industry to have received 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.
Despite all his business successes and accolades, Rolf C. Hagen remained a humble and selfless 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, churches and charitable organizations in Canada as well as all over the world.
Helen Keller once said that it is better to walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light. Rolf C. Hagen will be remembered for being a friend to those who walked in the dark.
Rolf C. Hagen leaves behind his beloved wife of 52 years, Marianne, his children Mark (and Caroline), Tom (and Teresa), and Rolf Jr (and Valerie), his grandchildren Sasha, Justin, Katia, Ashley, Brittany, Kaitlin, Matthew, William, and Christian. He is survived by his two brothers Dieter and Horst, his sisters Hannelore, Marga, Anne, and Karin, and predeceased by his brothers Walter, Fritz and Uwe.
The family will receive condolences on Thursday, October 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday, October 28 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Urgel Bourgie, 3955 Cote de Liesse, Montreal, QC H4N 2N6.
Funeral Services to be held on Saturday, October 29 at 11:00 a.m. at St-Sixte Church, 1895, rue de L’Eglise, Ville St-Laurent, Qc H4M 1E6.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Jewish General Hospital Cardiology: Coronary Care Unit or St Paul’s Lutheran Church in St-Laurent.
Published in The Monteal Gazette on October 25, 2011