Besides being educated in the major industrial centers of Europe, he paid a number of visits to European and North American countries in search of the latest steel-making technologies and processes. With production from the Hugo Gerdau Nail Factory, the state of Rio Grande do Sul no longer depended on European nails.
In 1909, Hugo Gerdau married Tilly Bins, and they had two daughters: Helda and Liselotte.
As early as 1914, Hugo Gerdau became one of the founding partners of Companhia Geral de Indústrias in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which produced the famous Geral stoves. In 1930 he took active part in the creation of the Centro de Indústrias Fabril do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (Manufacturing Industry Center of Rio Grande do Sul), which in time became the Federação das Indústrias do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (Federation of Industries of Rio Grande do Sul) or FIERGS. Three years later, the Hugo Gerdau Nail Factory expanded production with the establishment of a second factory in the regional city of Passo Fundo.
Vicente Blancato, who wrote “As Forças Econômicas do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul” (The Economic Strengths of the State of Rio Grande do Sul) (1922) described the unique Hugo Gerdau:
"Artless by nature, modest and without airs, Hugo Gerdau reveals a clear-headed intelligence dedicated to his uncommon capacity for work."
CURT JOHANNPETERCurt Johannpeter's entry into the Gerdau family marked the beginning of a brave new direction for the company. Born in Germany in 1899, Curt Johannpeter made his career in finance. In 1922 he began to work for the German Transatlantic Bank, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. In 1930 he became the branch inspector for Portugal, Spain and Latin America, and in the same year was introduced to the young Helda Gerdau during a trip to Brazil. They married and had four sons, Germano, Klaus, Jorge and Frederico.
In 1946, Curt (as he was informally addressed) took the wheel of the Gerdau company and directed a critical phase in its expansion. Two years later, the Hugo Gerdau Nail Factory began its highly successful course as a steel-maker, with the Riograndense mill.
Curt Johannpeter's period as director was crucial for the modernization and professionalization of Gerdau. He brought to the company the same values he cultivated in the family, showing that respect for people is an essential factor in the success of an organization.
Curt was always a great example of social competence, which is the practical ability to develop a daily work environment based on partnership, open dialogue and cordiality, without losing the sense of professionalism.
Everyone who worked with Curt remembers his daily visits around the workplace, greeting employees by name, and always providing personal and professional support for all.
Curt's business talent and the Gerdau family's entrepreneurial tradition were the ingredients for the company's tireless striving for customer satisfaction and consequent business success.