150 Years of Packaging Machinery in our Region

150 Years of Packaging Machinery in our Region: an Exemplary Industry Celebrates its Birthday.

Packaging Excellence Center (PEC) and Packaging Valley Germany e.V. are among the leading industrial clusters in Baden-Württemberg. With the 300-page long collaborative work „Inventors. Doers. World Market Leaders. 150 Years of Packaging Machinery in Southwest Germany“, they now present a fascinating chapter of industrial history.

About 90 companies of the packaging machine industry and their suppliers, including a number with world market leader status, are organized today in the two clusters Packaging Valley Germany e. V. and Packaging Excellence Center (PEC). Together, they employ more than 15,000 workers. These are numbers which could easily cause one to overlook the fact that this dynamic branch of industry once had a very humble start: the companies of today‘s clusters in the Stuttgart and Rems-Murr/Waiblingen as well as Schwäbisch Hall/Crailsheim regions arose from only four original startups. In 1861, or 150 years ago, the first packaging machine engineering company was founded here, in Geiger & Hesser in Bad Cannstatt.
Who were the men behind these extraordinary success stories? What drove them? What inventions and societal conditions did they find before them? And why was the industry able to develop so successfully over the decades in Württemberg in particular? The authors of the Leonberg advertising agency Karius & Partners pursued all of these questions when designing this anniversary volume.

For more than half a year, Peter Tognotti and Rudolf Büchner collected information and interviews for their book. Historical works, period testimonials, magazines and company documents, but especially numerous conversations with witnesses of the period – with entrepreneurial personalities and former employees – enabled the moving history of the Swabian-Hohenloh packaging machine builders to come alive once again. All the while, the authors focused in particular on making their subject matter, which is technical at its core, still easy to read and comprehensible even for lay readers. Thus was created a portrait of local industry history, pursuing two primary concerns: establishing historical contexts and remembering the personalities who helped the packaging industry along its triumphant way.

The book ranges from the first human transport packaging – the basket – to the mom and pop shops and groceries of centuries not so long ago, to the present day. The authors tell the story of the cask as the first packaging universalist, acknowledge the significance of the bale binder as the first pro packaging and look back at the beginnings of the cardboard box and its importance to the fashion accessories dealers of the 19th century. The book describes how corrugated cardboard came to be developed and finally approaches the question: who actually invented it – the first packaging machine?

When it comes to discussing the beginnings of the Württemberg mechanical engineering industry, the authors report on economic policy that appears highly modern in today‘s view: around the middle of the 19th century, the government promotes the rising industry with great foresight. A governmental agency was available to advise tradesmen and machines and tools were acquired from abroad and sample stocks were established. New companies were able even then to build on enormous suppo rt…

Following an excursion into Pietism and its significance for the economic rise of old-Württemberg, the volume turns to the entrepreneurial beginnings of Friedrich Hesser and his brother-in-law, Karl Geiger. And, of course, the authors also discuss other early startups, such as the post-war founding of Höfliger + Karg, which later became Bosch. The book reports on the triumph of the upright shaft, the victory march of automation technology, the vacuum transporter and many other strokes of genius from the idea laboratories of the packaging machine builders.
The authors reach back once again. Now they illuminate the history of the industry from the point of view of the employees. Not only do they examine the average hourly wage of a worker in the Kaiser‘s empire in 1911 – 40 pfennigs – or in October 1923 – 50 million Marks, but also the revaluation of the employee into a „responsible specialist“. Further is described the special importance the agricultural background had, and still has today, in the personnel policies of the companies. The book tells of the exemplary social agendas of the industry protagonists Hesser (today: Bosch Packaging Technology) and OPTIMA GROUP and gives a whole series of former employees opportunity to speak.But the subject matter also includes innovations in the consumer world, the rise of self-service stores, changing leisure habits, new packaging materials, rising environmental consciousness, the aestheticizing of packaging and its significance for marketing, and much, much more. Not to be forgotten are exporting and globalization, training and qualification. Best sellers, personal turning points and mistakes are also discussed.
The book repeatedly focuses on industry personalities, however, who advanced their companies with expertise and charisma. The authors grant them their own episodes, scattered among the chapters. In addition to these are anecdotes which document how even machine builders have a human approach. One reads of a Swabian entrepreneur, for example, who not only supplied his English customers with perfect packaging machines, but also with the best ambassador of Swabian culinary culture – the Swabian spaetzle…

With this anniversary book, Packaging Excellence Center (PEC) and Packaging Valley Germany e.V. have paid tribute to their packaging machinery region as collaborative publishers. „Inventors. Doers. World Market Leaders. 150 Years of Packaging Machinery in Southwest Germany“ will appear at the industry trade show interpack 2011, in the German and English languages. More information and images can be found at http://www.packaging-cluster.com