hep and the triathlon: what’s behind it?

What started with a personal passion developed into true greatness. With a team of top international athletes and juniors, the hep Sports Team has become one of the most successful triathlon teams. Christian Hamann, CEO and founder of hep, explains in an interview how this came about and what links triathlon with solar parks.

Mr. Hamann, hep plans, builds and operates solar parks worldwide and offers investors various attractive investment opportunities to invest in these projects. What is the connection between this successful business model and triathlon?

True, at first glance the connection is not obvious, but at second glance it is: At hep, we plan solar parks and offer them as long-term investments through investment funds. In triathlons, athletes swim, cycle and run a certain distance to cross the finish line. Both are simple in theory, complex in practice and require passion, perseverance and diligence in implementation. You are successful when you succeed in finding a balance between planning and risk. Such challenges fascinate me as an entrepreneur and as a person. I myself did triathlon as a hobby for many years. My brother Matthias, who is also part of the management team, has even competed in an Ironman. There are also some athletes among our employees. The fascinating thing about this sport, as well as our business model, is the simplicity, the direct connection with the elements. At the same time, triathlons allow us to experience the power and beauty, but also the vulnerability of nature at first hand. With the expansion of solar energy, we want to make a long-term contribution to the preservation of our planet.

For many years, hep has sponsored the Heilbronn Triathlon, which takes place virtually on its own doorstep. Since 2021, hep has also been an official sponsor of the “DATEV Challenge Roth powered by hep”, the second largest triathlon in the world after the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Isn’t that a bit too big?

In 1984, the Walchshöfer family brought this sport, which was completely unknown in Germany until then, to Roth in Franconia and made it what it is today: a world-class competition with a family flair. That fits well with hep. We are also firmly rooted in our home region of Heilbronn and at the same time active worldwide with our solar parks and locations in the USA, Japan and Canada. We are also united by a strong team spirit and a sense of fun. 

In this respect, I would describe the partnership as a courageous and logical decision. The positive response from last year shows: With hep and the Challenge Team, two people have found each other who belong together.

The hep sports team is managed by Ronnie Schildknecht, himself an 11-time Ironman winner. Ronnie created the cycling race “Les Moustaches Ride” in Zurich, which hep as a company has sponsored since 2021. What exactly is that all about?

The aim is to collect donations for bicycles and distribute them to needy children in South Africa to help them get to school and thus access education. In this way, around 23,000 euros were collected last year. It is important for us not to lose sight of the bigger picture in everything we do. Among other things, we are committed to preserving the endangered mountain gorilla in East Africa, promoting the education of disadvantaged population groups by building a solar power system on a campus in Burkina Faso, and donating a car for the first-aid team of the German Red Cross in Brackenheim to provide rapid first aid in rural areas. In our commitment, we attach great importance to a “help for self-help” approach.

The first athlete in the hep sports team was Arne Gabius, one of the most successful German marathon runners. The 29-year-old extreme mountaineer Jost Kobusch is also sponsored by hep – neither of them triathletes. Why?

The hep sports team is not just a triathlon team. Arne and Jost are both athletes with an irrepressible will and a strong connection to sustainability, even away from sports. Jost’s motto, for example, is “You should leave the mountain in a better condition than you found it.” That’s exactly the kind of character that suits us. Intrinsic conviction for sustainability is important to us – in business as well as in sports. At hep, we understand our slogan “there is no planet b” as our common mission.

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