Heiner Oberrauch, president of the Oberalp Group, has been awarded one of the highest honors by the Austrian government. Wolfgang Spadinger, consul general of Austria in Bolzano, pinned the Great Order of Merit to Oberrauch's jacket at the end of August in a ceremony held in the city, where the group is headquartered. Bolzano is located in an Italian region, which the Austrians called South Tyrol, that enjoys a special status. Oberalp is a family-owned company that traces its origins back five generations in the textile sector. Oberrauch, who will be 60 in December, started representing Salewa in Italy in 1982, when he was 25 years old. By the time he was 32, he had taken over the entire company. Other brands that he has since incorporated into the Oberalp group include Dynafit, Pomoca and a climbing brand, Wild Country. Oberalp is also the Italian distributor for many important foreign sports brands including Fischer, Smith, Speedo, Spyder and Under Armour. The Oberalp company currently employs 600 people.