Heiner Oberrauch

Heiner_OberrauchPresident of Oberalp - Salewa

Topic: Keynote address ispo dinner

Tuesday, October 11th - 10.00-10.30pm 


Heiner Oberrauch is of the same mould as Paul Petzl, last years ispo forum dinner speaker. Both come from families with deep roots in the outdoor industry and are owners as well as presidents of their businesses. Heiner will present a very personal and passionate view of the industry which has and continues to be the very centre of his life.

Heiner started laying the groundwork for his future career very early on. He was born in Bolzano on December 22, 1957. At nineteen, he opened the first “Sportler” store, with his brother Georg. His education in a trade institute and his family history played in his favor, the Oberrauch family had long been an institution in manufacturing and selling Loden with the Oberrauch Zitt brand had established their reputation..


In 1981, at the age of 24, Heiner Oberrauch founded the Oberalp Company. With a single partner, he established himself in the export and distribution of sporting goods in Italy and he quickly made Oberalp a key player in the Italian market.

1983 brought some major changes, Heiner married his partner and the mother of his three children and through a collaboration with Siegfried Messner (brother to Reinhold), he became the Italian representative of the famous Munich company, Salewa. The Bavarian company was founded in 1935 as a saddle manufacturer and had developed into a manufacture of mountain climbing and rock climbing equipment. .Heiner Oberrauch considered this single range of products rather too limited  and at the same time was aware of the resonance of the Salewa brand and the increasing demand for technical clothing for mountain climbing. He drew on his know-how and experience in the textile industry to create a collection specifically designed for mountain sports which was launched into the market with the prestigious Salewa label. After only five years, the clothing collection reached the same profit levels as the mountain climbing equipment (backpacks, snap-hooks, etc.).

The Oberrauch family acquired the shares of Salewa Sport In 1990, and Heiner Oberrauch took over the leadership and control of the entire Salewa group, headquartered in Bolzano. The design and development of the clothing products are managed by the Bolzano branch while the development of equipment (such as backpacks, sleeping bags and tents) has stayed in Munich.

The following years saw a great expansion of the business. In 1992, a new production plant for textiles in Verona in Italy was opened, In 1999, Silvretta, a manufacturer of ski bindings, was acquired, in 2003 Dynafit, the ski touring brand, known for its innovative, extremely lightweight and durable hard-and software , was integrated into the SALEWA Oberrauch group.

But Heiner Oberrauch has not only focused on high quality production, but he also found new distribution routes for his products. Even here he cuts his own path. Just in time for the new millennium the new Lodenwelt in Vintl welcomed its first guests. The Lodenwelt includes an interactive museum, surrounded by a sheep-run, a manufacturing facility with a large sales area and the Restaurant “Lodenwirt”. The focus here is on selling and manufacturing Loden cloth for the Oberrauch Zitt brand.

Two years later his father retired from the family business, to create room for the next generation, he made Heiner the manager of all of the Oberrauch Zitt stores,. Today, the Oberrauch group employs over 1000 employees; about half of them work under the direct management of Heiner.

Our history is a mountain-story”, reviews Heiner Oberrauch. "For over half a century  Salewa  focused  on vertical moving with the people around this brand  managing  to write an essential chapter in the tour book of mountain sports. For this, they have my deep respect and my gratitude. "

His instinct for innovative developments and his passion for mountain sports are also reflected in Heiner Oberrauch’s private life. He is a dedicated mountain climber and active rock climber. He is well aware of the great demands that mountain climbing products need to meet and brings his expertise together with a special intuition for fashion. His leisure time is mainly spent in his beloved mountains, during the winter he usually completes two ski tours a week, mostly in the evening after work.

Heiner finds inspiration in unexpected places, such as his vineyards next to the medieval castle he restored above Bolzano. There he likes to enjoy the wine that he produces, amidst his flower and vegetable gardens, which he cares for with great dedication. Another very important retreat for Heiner is his mountain farm “Ober-Pitscheiderhof” underneath the Rosengarten, where he can totally relax and let his mind wander. Singing and bricolage are among his favorite pastimes and help him create the right balance between his great commitment to his business and his dedication to his family.

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