Two Centuries of innovative materials
From Völklingen to the world: In just two centuries, the coal trading company established in 1822 by Friedrich Ludwig Röchling has developed into a global plastics group. Röchling’s motto is to conquer new markets and regions with innovative materials.
Steel as a Driver of Innovation
The coal business was the basis for the company’s involvement with the rising driver of innovation of the Industrial Revolution – steel. The four nephews of the founder of the company – known as the “Röchling brothers” – began producing coke and processing industrial iron in 1849. The acquisition of Völklingen Ironworks in 1881 marked the beginning of the steel era. Over 100 years later, the Völklingen Ironworks were designated as the first industrial UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By 1920 – just 100 years after the company was founded – Röchling recognized the potential of a new material and became a pioneer in plastics processing. The aim was to step away from a dependence on steel. In 1955, Röchling acquired Rheinmetall Berlin AG, the supplier of the newly founded German Army, diversified into other new business fields and, in 1978, finally left the mining industry altogether. With regard to plastics, Röchling mainly focused on internal growth and strategic acquisitions in new industries such as automotive plastics. The company also increased its presence on international markets, particularly in Asia and the USA.
Focus on Materials Expertise
In the new millennium, Röchling once again focused on its materials expertise. The Group divested all investments not related to plastics. With its increased internationalization and diversification into new industries, it renewed its focus on its unique materials and processing expertise that it had acquired over the last century. In the 21st century, plastic products by Röchling are at the cutting edge in all industries – just as it was two centuries ago for applications of Röchling steel. Today, the Röchling Group is the global leader in the processing of technical, high-performance plastics for industrial, automotive and medical
Continuity and Change
Responsible, long-term, sustainable and value-creating – these are the qualities that characterize the thoughts and actions of a family-owned company. They also paint an image of the Röchling family, which can be traced back to the 17th century and whose current family members are the eighth generation of shareholders of the company. The Röchlings have always regarded themselves as “family entrepreneurs” – regardless of whether they were in charge of the operational management of the company or – as they are today – setting the strategic course of the international Group as part of the Advisory Board, which is made up of family members and external experts. The Chairman of the Advisory Board is Johannes Freiherr von Salmuth, a sixth-generation descendant of the company’s founder.
Across almost two centuries, the family has closely steered its company throughout its eventful transition from steel producer to global plastics group. In good times as well as in difficult ones, the family provided continuity amid change and thus helped secure the success of the Röchling Group in the long term.
In 1916, Holzveredelung GmbH in Berlin registered a patent for the completely new material, Lignostone. The material is made of wood but converted into a “plastic” with particular characteristics using a special compression process.
In 1920, the Röchling entrepreneurial family acquired the company. For the “steel barons of the Saar,” this was the starting point for the plastics activities of the Röchling Group.
In 1935, Röchling relocated Holzveredelung GmbH to Haren in Emsland, which is now the oldest Röchling Group location.
The 1960s and 1970s were characterized by pioneering materials developments, with Röchling releasing the thermoplastic Polystone® and the glass fiber reinforced plastic Durostone® on the market.
In the 1980s, the plastics business of the Röchling Group was also characterized by acquisitions. By acquiring the Sustaplast Group in Lahnstein, the Group gained a specialist in the manufacture of semi-finished products made of plastic. Röchling entered the automotive plastics industry through the acquisition of the Seeber Group in South Tyrol.
The 1990s and 2000s saw consistent internationalization, with the establishment of subsidiaries and production locations in Europe, the USA, China and India.
In 2008, the company entered the field of medical technology with the acquisition of the Oertl Kunststofftechnik Group. This market presence was bolstered by the acquisition of the American company Advent Tool & Mold in 2012 and HPT Hochwertige Pharmatechnik in 2015.
Since 2016, Röchling has three independent divisions – Industrial, Automotive and Medical.