1 HOW IT ALL BEGAN – THE SALUS CURE
“One forgets all too easily that we do not live from what we eat, but only from what we actually digest.”
Dr. med. Otto Greither
To this conclusion came the physician and medical practitioner Dr. med. Greither after he became severely ill himself. Throughout his life Dr. Greither was curious and thirsty for knowledge. Soon after his promotion in 1896 he trained further as neurologist and learned under eminent doctors. But that’s not all: He also studied veterinary medicine and in Berlin he added another field, that of dentistry.
”That led me to learn about the importance of natural nutrition and the correct use of teeth when chewing the food as a prevention against the countless illnesses, which start in the digestion and the intestine.”
This knowledge helped him later, when he, who had never been sick before, became ill at the age of 30. “I became nervous, suffered from physical weakness […].I felt miserable and could only recover slowly due to my chronic weakness.”
When his condition deteriorated, his doctors decided on a stomach operation. But, while preparing for the planned operation, the “miracle” happened, because enemas with water dissolved the blockages. However, the illness returned after a short while with a vengeance. Confined to bed again, he thought a lot about his illness. His extensive medical knowledge helped him in this regard. His experience with the previous illness made him believe that there must be a connection between his nutrition and his poor health. He did not rule out the possibility that inadequate digestion might also have triggered the illness.
Therefore he restricted his diet and further developed the self-massage against constipation, which also life-reformer Viktor Prießnitz had used. Greither coined the term „abdominal thrusting“, meaning the upwards thrusting and bulging out of the stomach in rhythmic movements.
After he succeeded in healing himself by a restricted diet and the technique of abdominal thrusting, he set out on a migratory life as physician and researcher. He substituted in colleagues’ practices throughout Germany to study regional differences in their food habits. For six months he studied technical books and travel reports in the Prussian State Library in Berlin about the nature of nutrition all over the world. Later on, he travelled to far-distant countries. The stomach muscle training of an Indian tribe using a stone placed on the stomach, inspired him to develop his abdominal thrusting belt. Because of his previous illness Greither developed the SALUS cure. It follows the two principles “Healing means cleansing” and “Healthy by yourself”.
2 NEW START AFTER THE WAR
“I can do what I want with my property and do, of course, but I must share it if I can. This is how our society functions.”
At the end of the Second World War, in Munich about half of the entire city area had been destroyed; and 90 % of the old city lay in ruins. SALUS Haus had not been spared, either. Dozens of bomb attacks affected the production. “But something remained standing, with which we could restart after the war”, remembers Otto Greither, eldest son of company founder Dr. med. Otto Greither.
He took care of reconstructing the tea production. Little by little he and his colleagues succeeded in creating a room again for a mixing facility in the remaining buildings at Schönstraße 10. “And then we just started to make tea.”
Otto Greither assumed the role of the head of the family - for his brother Hans, but also for his friends. For the 20-year old orphan the employees of SALUS Haus became a surrogate family. “Of course we made sure that they all had something to eat. I never ate bread alone, if someone hungry was sitting next to me”, says Greither. At an early stage he also adopted the clause “Property entails obligations” from the Bavarian Constitution as the guiding principle of his actions.
Otto Greither did not need to advertise his teas. “The customers grabbed everything that we produced.” More difficult than selling was production. In order to be able to manufacture tea in the winter as well, he needed firewood and matches, which he got - like many other everyday things – for “compensation”. Barter trade blossomed. “Now no one can imagine how difficult it was to get a bag of cement.” Greither needed cement to reconstruct the buildings on the company premises. Through ”agents” he could exchange, for example, 100 packs of tea for a bag of cement.
At the age of 20, Greither was not yet an adult in those days, with the age of majority not being until 21. He was therefore not permitted to lead the company. But a notary confirmed that - because of his military and entrepreneurial experiences – he could be regarded as an adult, so he was finally registered as the managing director of SALUS Haus.
After the first year of reconstruction, SALUS was able to enter production again, things were looking up. More and more employees returned home from the war. They all needed work, they wanted to be involved. At that time, SALUS Haus had already taken on 20 employees. The experience and worldly wisdom from this time of need after the war continue to influence Otto Greither’s philosophy to this day and form the basis of the SALUS company culture.
3 THE SALUS LABORATORY
“Quality is the most important thing. We only purchase the best herbs and raw materials we can get so that we always remain at the top. We will, therefore, always invest in our own research, so that we can test everything. Whether cultivated in-house or collected from other sources, it doesn’t matter: it must be checked in the laboratory.”
The employment of a pharmacist in 1962 for the company’s laboratory opened a new chapter in the SALUS history. Otto Greither had hired the talented young pharmacist, Prof. Dr. Heinz Schilcher from the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU), Munich, as head of the scientific department. The young scientist who was the first to succeed in analysing all the important chemical constituents of a plant from an extract in his thesis, was to put this analytical instrument for quality control into practice at SALUS for the first time.
Despite concerns expressed by his authorised representative, Otto Greither spared no expense for this project. Because neither the existing inspection and research laboratory nor the analytical equipment were sufficient for the requirements of the ambitious young scientist. Without further ado Greither arranged for the employee canteen to be rebuilt into a spacious laboratory with the most modern analytical equipment. Apart from modern facilities for Greither also a professional team under the leadership of Schilcher was very important. Therefore he hired a biologist with a doctorate, a pharmacist and three chemical technicians. Schilcher set completely new standards with his purity regulations for plants. In 1963, Schilcher introduced a flying insect test to detect pesticides. For purity regulations of plant specimens, he developed a series of 82 thin-layer chromatograms.
This was followed by 46 more work specifications for the so called fingerprint chromatograms and other quality tests. In 1967 he finally established gas chromatographic determination of pesticides. His scientific publications were published in numerous professional journals and so he was dubbed the “father of herbal medicine standardisation” and “residue Schilcher”. His strict guidelines were quickly adopted in the SALUS philosophy and guarantee the top quality of all SALUS products.
Today, the SALUS laboratory still works according to the latest state of research, with the most modern equipment and under strict controls, complying with the official pharmacopoeia and internal test specifications. Nowadays the scientific department consists of 51 employees, thereof 18 university graduates. Many of the self-imposed quality standards exceed the legal requirements by far: because highest purity is the first priority at SALUS.
4 BESTSELLER FLORADIX®
“You cannot imagine New Zealand households without Floradix.” Even our midwives have recommended the iron tonic for years to their new mothers. This familiarity is the result of our years of intensive marketing.”
Rolf Hilke, managing director, Red Seal Laboratories
At the end of 1962, Otto Greither bought the Floradix pharmaceutical factory in Wiesbaden from the Wilhelm Blumenthal company that, inter alia, manufactured products such as Energetikum and Kindertrunk, as well as Floradix. It could not have been imagined at the time that Floradix would become the highest revenue-earner for SALUS and probably the best-selling alcohol-free tonic for iron deficiency the world over.
“One hundred millilitres of the tonic contained just two to three milligrams of bivalent iron”, remembered Professor Dr. Heinz Schilcher (deceased 2015), former manager of the SALUS scientific department. The present-day Floradix contains, by comparison, 82 milligrams of bivalent iron per 100 ml. The pharmacist found a natural source with high iron-II content, the yeast fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast could be “fed” with a bivalent iron compound.
In an experiment, Schilcher was able to prove that 30 percent of this iron contained in the yeast could be absorbed by the human body. He developed a new recipe for Floradix based on iron-containing fruit juices and “iron-yeast” that contained 45 mg of bivalent iron in 60ml of tonic. At the same time, through pasteurizing – the process also used to increase the shelf life of milk - he introduced a technological innovation for bottling. The scientists at SALUS Haus have continuously improved the composition of the iron tonic; the current recipe was formulated in 2008. Floradix became a bestseller in most export countries.
Christel Gursche, who distributed the SALUS products in Canada together with her husband, said that her husband successfully launched Floradix onto the Canadian market with tremendous passion and also relished drinking it.
Also top athletes discovered the effect of Floradix. At a meeting of the health food industry in Sankt Moritz, a ski race was once organised with a prominent participant - the skier Christa Kinshofer. Kinshofer was to hold a brief presentation in front of 200 participants, after she had won the race. Spontaneously, she decided to speak for half an hour on how much Floradix had helped her win. “I was completely speechless", remembers former sales manager Richard Mayr.
It turned out that many other winter sports athletes use Floradix, too. And so between 2006 and 2010 SALUS became an important sponsor for Magdalena Neuner, Martina Beck (née Glagow), Verena Bentele, Martin Braxenthaler, Theresa Kempfle, Andrea Rothfuss and Gerd Schönfelder. At the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada, these athletes sponsored by SALUS won 21 medals, including 14 gold. The athletes advertised Floradix not only on posters and advertising spots, but even at autograph signings.
5 LIFE REFORM
„We sold SALUS products from the very first day. Of course the range was expanded by a variety of products: teas, elixirs, capsules,…We had everything in our range what SALUS had offered.“
Jörn Lesske, health food shop Lesske Bergisch-Gladbach
They contrasted conventional medicine with naturopathy, chemical pest control with ecological agriculture, increasing meat consumption with the vegetarian lifestyle - the “life reform”, the concept surfaced for the first time in the 1890s, was a reaction to the changed life conditions and social grievances, which arose with urbanisation and industrialisation. Terms such as “natural lifestyle”, “the art of healthy, sensible human life”, “dietetics” were terms used as synonyms for life reform. Core of the movement were vegetarianism, the naturopathy movement and naturism. This epoch also brought wholefoods and muesli to the fore. Known proponents of naturopathy were the agriculturists Vinzenz Prießnitz (1799-1851) and Johann Schroth (1798-1856) as well as the priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897).
Products of the reformers were first offered for sale by the Berlin merchant Carl Braun (1858-1943) in a special department. This was the ancestor of all health food shops: In 1887 he opened a health food shop at Potsdamer station in Berlin, which he called “Health Centre”. The first health food shop to bear this name was opened by Carl August Heynen in 1900 in Wuppertal. In this way, distribution and sales of the products was no longer by the manufacturer direct to the end customer but through the health food shop (department store) as a specialist line. Over the decades, a “health food shop network” developed and expanded all over Germany. By 1925, there were already 200 health food shops across the country. In 1925, a number of them decided to form a union of German health food shop owners, out of which grew a cooperative in 1927, which in 1930 assumed the name “Neuform Vereinigung Deutscher Reformhäuser e.G.” (Neuform cooperative of German health food shops).
Also SALUS founder Dr. med. Otto Greither opened his own health food shops: the "SALUS sales and information sites". The organisational expenditure increased, so the company management decided to dispose of the health food shops. Subsequently the health food shops became SALUS’ most important customers.
“My father, with his wholesale bread trade, used to supply health food shops in North Rhine Westphalia after the war. As a supporting business, my mother opened a small health food shop in Cologne-Deutz in the autumn of 1956. Another one was added soon after. In 1969, as a trained chemist, I opened my own health food shop. Over time, other businesses were added”, remembers Jörn Lesske, owner of the health food store Lesske in Bergisch-Gladbach. At its peak period, Lesske employed over 40 employees in his nine branches.
With Georg Lässing, owner of the health food shop at Kirchheim/Teck, it was also his mother who laid the foundations. When Georg Lässing took over his parents’ business in 1964 that SALUS began to supply him directly, first with types of tea and Floradix, and subsequently other products, too. The health food shop then grew very quickly.
Lesske and Lässing have since passed their health food shops to their sons, who are successfully continuing them in the third generation.
For 100 years SALUS Haus has been part of the life reform and a reliable partner of the health food shops. The company grew together with the health food shops and today it is the largest health products manufacturer in Germany with around 1.500 products.
6 SCHOENENBERGER - FROM COMPETITOR TO PARTNER
”I only acquired Schoenenberger so that it does not go to a corporate concern. Even when I was on the way to the solicitor, I asked the founder’s grandson whether he really did not want to continue to run the company himself.”
The founder of SALUS was a physician. The founder of SCHOENENBERGER, Walther Schoenenberger (1901- 1982), was a pharmacist. There are many similarities between these two companies. That was also one of the reasons why SALUS took over one of its largest competitors in 1991. Walther Schoenenberger had already worked with plant juices during his pharmaceutical studies. He was convinced that a plant can only achieve its full healing effect through the interaction of the various ingredients such as phytochemicals, vitamins or trace elements.These substances are only present in the highest concentration in fresh plants. In his mother’s kitchen, he was experimenting with the careful production of freshly extracted fresh plant juices without alcohol or preservatives in the1920s. In 1927, he began with the first production in Cannstatt, which he moved just one year later due to capacity constraints to a former brewery in nearby Magstadt near Stuttgart – where the company is still based today.
Schoenenberger also owns the trademark rights of “Labiosan” for Germany and Switzerland. Even the South Tyrolean alpinist legend Luis Trenker (1892 – 1990) advertised for the zinc balm. When he was on his way to a 8.000 meters high mountain he was able to treat a Sherpa’s poorly healing leg wound with “Labiosan”, the only remedy against glacial sunburn on the lips at that time. The letter is still kept in the Schoenenberger archives.
In the 1970s, Schoenenberger developed the OLBAS Sports Line, together with the then doctor of the German national football team. Of all years, Schoenenberger wanted to discontinue this sports line in 2006, the year that the World Cup was being held in Germany. The outrage of the national team was so great that OLBAS Sport was continued. Since then, Schoenenberger has been the official supplier for the DFB (German Football Association). The players do not just use the OLBAS active spray for bruises, but even spray it on their skin under their shirts. The evaporating essential oils ensure that the players can breathe more easily through the nose. OLBAS Sport was also there in 2014 for the German team’s fourth title win in Brazil.
The acquisition of the Schoenenberger company made the SALUS group market leader in the health food shop business. Both companies complemented each other very well, not just because of a similar corporate philosophy, but also because there was little overlap in their products. Schoenenberger’s strength – the fresh plant juices – were unique in their quality and range. The company had - like SALUS - purchased several companies such as, for example, the foodstuff manufacturer, Hensel, or the cosmetics company, Extracta, today called Schoenenberger Naturkosmetik, which complemented the company’s range very well.
The acquisition came about because Dr. Hanns Schoenenberger, the son of the company founder, retired and there was no successor in the family. Otto Greither treated the employees of Schoenenberger as his own and dismissed no one on acquisition. The consolidation of various areas such as sales, accounting or information technology only occurred after several years - after a number of older employees had retired.
7 SALUS INTERNATIONAL: INTO THE BIG WIDE WORLD
“In 1998, our best tea sales were to Barbados. Peppermint tea was so popular there that the customer asked us to remove the transport palettes from the container. They wanted us to fill it up with packs of tea right up to the roof, so that we could pack more tea in the container. We were supposed to fill every spare nook and cranny with tea.”
At an early stage Otto Greither recognised the changes in the market and knew that the marketing channel through the health food shops alone would not be sufficient to secure the long-term existence of his company. The sale of SALUS products in pharmacies and drug stores was out of the question in the post-war era out of consideration for the health food shops. Otto Greither, therefore, decided to export his products. “This really was the key to the strong development of SALUS Haus”, says the former managing director, Hans-Joachim Sutter.
Otto Greither, who is as fond of voyages of discovery as his father, gets to know keen followers of life reform abroad, who are interested in launching his SALUS products on the market. This included many German expatriates who carry the idea of health food shop to their new home and spread the word there, but also the native residents who attach great importance to healthy living.
Nowadays, SALUS delivers to more than 65 countries and has own subsidiaries in Great Britain, Italy and Spain. Moreover, Otto Greither has herb farm in Chile. In all countries, Floradix is the SALUS bestseller.
SALUS products are supplied in North America through the Canadian company Flora. About 20 years ago, Pierre Martineau, journalist and publisher, reported extensively on the history of SALUS and the factory in Bruckmühl in two of his health magazines, in French and English, spreading the word across the whole of Canada. Contact with and an invitation to SALUS was arranged in 1996 through Thomas Greither, son of Otto Greither and managing director of Flora. Martineau was impressed by the high standards of quality in the production at Bruckmühl and even today has fond memories of the Bavarian hospitality.
Also on the other side of the Pacific, in New Zealand, SALUS products represent an important part of the health product range. Rolf Hilke and his wife Rosemarie took over the long-established Red Seal Laboratories in 1991 and expanded it to become a major provider of health products. In 2012 the company was awarded “SALUS export customer of the year”.
In England, where the export subsidiary Salus UK was established in 1981, the SALUS products became indispensable as well. ”At first, SALUS products were a new experience for many of our customers. But after they recognised their potential effectiveness, the products became widely accepted", says Harry Littlewood, office manager Salus UK. Something similar reports Isabel Blanco, manager of Salus Floradix España. ”In Spain, SALUS Haus has always had a reputation for manufacturing high quality products. This was so even before the SALUS Haus subsidiary was founded.”
8 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PUT INTO PRACTICE
„We aim to source an increasing and as large as possible percentage of our residue-checked raw materials from organic farming, to promote economic activity in harmony with nature, also on a global level.“
From the SALUS environmental guidelines
For Otto Greither the demands of the ecology movement for the responsible treatment of natural resources was by no means new. The businessman always combined economic with ecological interests. Another decisive factor for the purchase of the factory premises in Bruckmühl in 1968, was, for example, that there was a hydroelectric power station on the site to generate his own power.
Another hydroelectric power station was later added, that is located on the site of the present Auwald biotope. The company generates further energy from solar power. So, in all, depending on the utilisation of the hydroelectric power stations, the in-house energy generation at Bruckmühl covers between 70 and 95 percent of its power requirement. The remaining energy is supplied in the form of green electricity.
The environmental protection efforts, however, go far beyond power supply. Ventilation systems with heat recovery in the SALUS production areas in Bruckmühl and Schoenenberger in Magstadt make heating practically superfluous. Water consumption is also reduced to the most essential by multiple utilisation and optimized cleaning processes. About 90 percent of the waste at SALUS is of organic origin and is re-used in a biogas plant. The press residues from the production of juices at Schoenenberger are used by the farmers in their fields as fertilisers. It is therefore only logical that the employees’ canteen “Salusteria”, inaugurated in 2015, is certified organic. Regional and as far as possible natural materials were primarily used in the construction. The heating is operated with the heat given off in production and a ventilation system with heat recovery is used in the kitchen. The bright room design with a lot of glass is designed not only to reduce power consumption for the lighting, but also to ensure that as much natural light as possible will make the employees comfortable during their break. Of course, the kitchen offers exclusively organic food.
The company always has a long term view in its careful use of natural resources and has played a pioneering role in this area. SALUS is the first health food manufacturer whose environmental management system has been certified according to EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) and that has since been able to continuously renew this evidence, and the same applies to Schoenenberger (since 1997) and SALUS Pharma (since 2009). All three companies are also certified according to the international environment management standard ISO 14001.
The result of the pioneering role in environment protection was that SALUS was included in the “Climate Protection and Energy Efficiency group of the German Economy e.V.”.
SALUS places a high priority not only on climate protection but also on species protection. In 2000, the company was among the first signatories to the World Wildlife Fund environmental foundation, WWF for short, “Medicine and Species Conservation” project". SALUS and the WWF are committed to what is called controlled wild harvesting. This is done by only taking so many wild growing medicinal plants from the ground that the population is not endangered. Otto Greither has been living the SALUS motto “At one with nature. Dedicated to health care.” for 70 years. In 2003, the WWF, together with the periodical “CAPITAL” presented him with the “Eco-Manager of the Year” award.
9 THE FIGHT AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING
“The problem with green genetic engineering is the lack of control. How will you prevent the seeds from being widely spread through airborne pollen, bees or other insects? The protective zones offered so far cannot convince me.”
Raised amongst life reformers, with healthy food and full of respect for nature and its resources, Otto Greither has always attached importance to using the most natural raw materials. Therefore he sets higher standards for his organically produced products, for example, with regard to heavy metal or pesticide content. Organically produced SALUS products therefore also bear SALUS’ own organic seal after passing the tests. This excludes the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and plant cultivation. For example, as genetic engineering started to appear in agriculture in the 1980s, against the trend Otto Greither appointed an expert in traditional cultivation. Otto Greither rejects the genetically engineered manipulation of plants, because he believes that they would destroy the basis of organic cultivation through uncontrolled spread. At trial sites at the Bruckmühl site, therefore, he specifically grows GM-free bantam maize. Within a 300 meter radius no genetically modified maize can be cultivated, so an area protection against genetic engineering in agriculture was created. In Chile Otto Greither maintains a refuge for medicinal herbs and plants. More than 120 medicinal plants and fruits are cultivated there at a large farm for SALUS products.
„In the future there could be only genetically modified plants,“ worries Greither, “which take away the farmers’ freedom and nature’s stability.” Therefore it was a matter close to his heart for Otto Greither to institute, on his 85th birthday, an award for journalists who had critically dealt with the consequences of genetic engineering in agriculture. The award ceremony for the first SALUS Journalism Award was held at the Munich Press Club on 28 October 2010. The main award worth 3.000 euros was presented to SWR editor, Manfred Ladewig, for his film about the American company Monsanto, entitled “The genetic conspiracy”. Otto Greither also presented an award for young journalists and a special award.
Otto Greither was so delighted with the success of the Journalism Award that he significantly increased the prize money the next year.
“Genetic engineering in agriculture is of great social significance. We want to underline that by increasing the endowment. Last year’s competition entries showed us that journalists are following this complex topic with great personal commitment and impressive professionalism", declared Greither. In 2013 this was expanded to the SALUS Media Award. Now not only critical reports on genetic engineering in agriculture are honoured but also entries that address the opportunities of GM-free agriculture. Otto Greither raised the prize money in subsequent years, most recently in 2015, to draw the public attention to this topic.
10 100 YEARS OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT TEA
“One tea was the origin for all the teas of SALUS Haus. That was the Munich health tea which played a key role in the SALUS cure. It has laid the foundation stone of the company.”
For highest tea pleasure and effect, much knowledge and care in production is necessary. The history of the SALUS medicinal teas began 100 years ago, when Dr. med. Otto Greither produced his first tea. The Munich health tea was a tea which improved the metabolism and dissolved uric acid and was part of the SALUS cure. For this tea, Greither mixed twenty different herbs like anise, fennel, caraway, pansy herb, yarrow and blackberry leaves.
To market his SALUS cure, Greither founded the SALUS works in 1916 in Munich, Türkenstraße. The healthy and tasty teas quickly gained many fans. As early as 1930 there were 23 different “SALUS organic herbal teas”, e.g. a breast and cough tea, a stomach tea, a slimming tea and a relaxing tea for children. Already at that time the company attached great importance to quality. In the booklet “Healing treasures of nature, SALUS organic herbal teas” of 1930 it says: “The composition of our ‘SALUS organic herbal teas’ is based on age-old experience, to ensure maximum effect. We have placed great emphasis on ensuring that mixtures are not manufactured from cut herbs, but using uncut leaves, blossoms, roots, seeds etc.”
The business ran so well, that Dr. med. Otto Greither purchased an old factory site in Schönstraße nine years later and had it converted into the new production site. In 1925 also his oldest son Otto was born and one and a half years later the second son Hans. When the staff drove beyond the gates of Munich to harvest herbs, both sons accompanied them to help.
When Otto Greither reconstructed SALUS Haus after the Second World War, he first started with the tea production. Like his father, he attached great importance to the quality of his teas. It starts with the selection of the herbs, which SALUS purchases from all over the world and which are all organic. Every delivery of herbs arriving in Bruckmühl is thoroughly analysed in the own SALUS laboratory. Does the sample comply with the indicated type, is it free of pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, radioactivity and genetic engineering? Only after theses tests the herbs can be processed.
For SALUS Haus also the careful use of natural resources is very important. The tea filter bags are made of banana leaves, the thread consists of cotton and is knotted. To avoid that printing ink gets into the liquid when dipping the label unintentionally, the label is printed by laser. Before the finished tea is dispatched to the customers, it is tested again for food safety.
Perfect tea enjoyment requires a lot of care and attention. Long-time experience with medicinal herbs and elaborate quality controls are characteristic for the SALUS tea range. SALUS is one of very few tea manufacturers where everything is in one hand – from the raw material to the finished tea package. All SALUS teas are made in Germany and are free from colourants and preservatives. Even medicinal plants which are used in food teas comply with pharmaceutical quality standards.
11 AFFINITY FOR THE REGION AND ITS PEOPLE
“We must have consideration for others and behave as most religions tell us: Give something to others who are hungry, so that you will perhaps also not go hungry later, because he will also give you something. We do not always consider this in our daily lives, but it is as simple as that.”
Otto Greither’s social engagement extends well beyond promoting youth employment and the Bruckmühl associations. Since the early 1990s, handicapped people in the Caritas Wendelstein workshops in Rosenheim have been supporting SALUS in areas where industrial packaging is difficult and individuality is required. Since not enough staff were available to package the popular SALUS tea advent calendar as well, Caritas Wendelstein workshops offered this task to the Eglharting workshops.
These are part of the Steinhöring facilities association. People with physical or mental disabilities live and work there, in full time sheltered housing, where they take care of themselves as far as possible. The concept of Eglharting workshops is that workshop employees should lead a largely independent life. “Right at the start of the year, our workshop employees ask when the tea will eventually arrive”, says Rudolf Kaiser, technical manager of the Eglharting workshops. From the end of June to the beginning of October, SALUS sends the tea bags and the packaging material to the workshops. The people working there then produce the advent calendar ready for sale, together with the group leaders. The calendar combines 24 different tea types, from aromatic spicy herbs to sensually relaxing fruit spice tea.
For the workers is not just the wages that they receive for their work that is important. “They are very proud of what they do and derive a lot of pleasure from the work”, says Kaiser. In all, 60 handicapped persons in the Steinhöring facilities association work for SALUS - 30 in Eglharting and 10 in each of the other Steinhöring, Ebersberg and Fendsbach sites.
SALUS does not only help handicapped people in their integration to work life. The owner Otto Greither supports numerous projects and donations for environment protection and maintenance of nature, people in need, children from socially deprived families, associations in Bruckmühl or promotion of culture.
Accepting responsibility and behaving in a sustainable manner are the guiding principles of Salus that are also followed by the individual employees. In 2013, the Salusaners showed impressive solidarity with the flood victims in their neighbourhood. They voluntarily gave up their annual company outing. They wanted to donate the funds kept aside for it to those that had been affected. Otto Greither spontaneously further rounded up this amount. “People are important - and in crises such as this one, there is no alternative to solidarity”, stresses Greither.
For many years SALUS has been supporting the SOS children’s villages worldwide. Since 2015, 10 % of the revenue of each package of "Shakti Nepal" tea goes to SOS children’s villages, helping children in Nepal affected by the earthquakes.
12 SALUS AUWALD (ALLUVIAL FOREST) BIOTOPE – A REFUGE FOR NATURE
"The kids are deligheted when we observe breeding birds live via web- camera in the next box."
Nadine Patzelt, volunteer in environmental projects
To the hydroelectric power station, which SALUS owner Otto Greither purchased, also belongs an alluvial forest along the river Mangfall. The previous owner had leased the alluvial forest area of around three acres in 1951 to the photographer and ornithologist Adolf Peschke. Over decades, Peschke caught and ringed several thousand migratory birds to track their migration routes.
In 1995, Otto Greither built an 800 meter path through this primordial wilderness and made the “SALUS Auwald biotope” accessible to the public in 2000. It is a great concern to Otto Greither to maintain the untouched nature for posterity. “My brother, Hans, cares about the biotope and he gets any support he needs from me”, says Otto Greither.
The biotope houses almost all the tree species found in Bavaria. Furthermore, Hans and Otto Greither have also planted rare species like the service tree or rowan and hung 60 nest boxes in the trees.
Moreover, the Greithers have created a herb garden that brings visitors closer to numerous medicinal plants. In a poisonous plant bed children get to know plants that they must not put in their mouth. An attraction is the upland moor with rare plants such as the carnivorous sundew and a peat museum, which gives visitors an understanding of peat digging work. The Greithers have planted rare alpine plants such as the ladies’ slipper or fire lily in the alpinum. Since 2009, there is also a fern forest with 35 different types, which is particularly close to Hans Greither’s heart. A large insect hotel and a bee tree provide an insight into the world of insects.
Many day-trippers and school groups visit the refugium on the Mangfall. But the riverside woodland biotope has another attraction: the zoological museum built in 2003, which Otto Greither has donated to the Bruckmühl community. The pavilion stands on oak trunks, protected from floods and provides a home to Adolf Peschke’s animal collection. The Bruckmühl citizen was not only an ornithologist, but also taxidermically prepared countless animals who died in the alluvial forest or were brought to him by other nature lovers. In 1997 Peschke left some 500 exhibits for the community. As the original zoological museum was bursting at the seams, Otto Greither stepped in with the new construction.
A very special commitment is the SALUS herb garden project of "Lichtblick Hasenbergl" (Hasenbergl ray of hope) in Munich. In March 2010 Otto Greither donated the SALUS herb garden to the support institution, in which children from socially deprived families can cultivate and harvest herbs and plants on their own. “The children must experience how they themselves can influence their entire quality of life, if they start paying attention to their health from the start”, says Otto Greither. Every year’s highlight is the trip to the Auwald biotope in the summer, as a reward for the children who took care of the herb garden during the school year.