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Eindhoven honours benefactor as day-long Frits Philips City

Hometown centenarian entrepreneur

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EINDHOVEN, the Netherlands - A citywide celebration is planned for the day ‘Mr. Philips’ will celebrate his 100th birthday. Naming the city after him for a day is one of the ways the sprawling town intends to honour a very spry Frits Philips, the son of the electronics company’s co-founder Anton.

Famed soccer club PSV in 1911 organized as Philips Elftal and later became Philips Sport Vereniging, hence the acronym, will temporary be renamed too: “Frits.” Also in the works are a number of exhibits, the publication of a book, and the minting of 100,000 ‘Fritske’ coins, Fritske being the Brabant-dialect diminuitive of Frits. Frits Philips, living nearby the PSV stadium, regularly visits youth try-outs and is know to liberally impart his wisdom to young players.

Eindhoven has been the home of the Philips conglomerate since 1891, when Frits’ uncle Gerard set up a factory there to manufacture incandescent lights. Anton joined the fledgling firm a year later to look after the business aspects of what in 1912 became the Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken. He became the company’s CEO in 1922 and started an aggressive expansion for the firm which 50 years later had 400,000 employees worldwide. Because of its ties to the Philips lighting conglomerate, Eindhoven, which blossomed from a small village into a major centre, in the Netherlands widely is known as the City of Lights.

University cofounder

Frits J. Philips had become a department head at the family firm by 1930. Six years later, he was elevated to assistant manager, and in 1939 to manager. After the WWII, he became Vice-President of the Executive Board. He served the company between 1961 and 1971 as President (a position now held by Gerard Kleisterlee), after which he continued as Chairman of the Board of Directors. During those years, Frits Philips also held other positions, such as chairman of the Eindhoven Chamber of Commerce, member of the board of the Dutch Employers Association, and Vice-president of the Labour Foundation. He was instrumental in establishing the local Eindhoven University of Technology.