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Over 120 years of Dürr

Over 120 years of Dürr - few companies can look back at a history as long and rich as this. We would like to take this as an opportunity to browse through the chronicle of our company and look at selected photos.

Laying the foundation during the German Empire

In 1896, the era of German Emperor Wilhelm II, a 25-year-old Paul Albert Dürr starts his own business, together with his wife Luise, by founding the Paul Dürr metal shop for roof flashing in Bad Cannstatt near Stuttgart. Thanks to his technically advanced manufacturing work, the business soon makes an excellent name for itself. As its reputation grows, orders become more demanding and the scope increases.


The roots of the Dürr Group: the first premises at Brunnenstraße in Bad Cannstatt. The sign decorated with volutes reads: "Paul Dürr. Tinsmith.” The name of this trade refers to the manufacture of metal bottles and other receptacles. The metal shop for roof flashing is, however, mainly involved in manufacturing and assembling gutters, downpipes, dormers and roofing.


The company grows with its success: two years after its foundation, larger premises are required. In 1898 Paul Dürr buys a residential building with warehouses on the corner of Hofener Straße/Olgastraße, also in Bad Cannstatt.


No gender balance in the workplace: Around 1907 the company photo shows a male-only business. Among the people in the picture are the company founder (center, with hat) and his son Otto (far left).


A display of skill and craftsmanship: his work on the roof of the Stuttgart Arts Building leads to Paul Dürr‘s appointment as 'Master Tinsmith to the Court of Württemberg' in 1913.


Showing an interest in new technical developments at an early age: company founder Paul Dürr (1871 – 1936). From the very beginning his metal shop for roof flashing is equipped with the latest machines.

The First World War and its consequences

The First World War erupts in July 1914. The devastating consequences of the global military conflict also take their toll on Dürr's roof flashing business. Due to the severe shortage of materials, the workshop in Bad Cannstatt begins sheet metal processing for the first time. After the war, the business focuses increasingly on manufacturing sheet metal products. During the economic upswing of the 1920s, dealings with the automotive industry grow.


A reorientation puts the business back on its feet in the aftermath of the war and inflation: a sheet metal workshop is created as an independent branch.


A good team: with her calm manner, Barbara "Betty" perfectly counteracts Otto's headstrong temperament. She works alongside her husband for 40 years and is the soul and commercial conscience of the company.


Heavy, welded machine stands become Dürr's key products towards the end of the 1920s.


The second generation: in 1923 Paul's son Otto (1904 – 1987) joins the company. From the very beginning, the job requires more than just his skills as a tinsmith’s apprentice. He has to manage the company on behalf of his sick father and lead it out of recession following a period of inflation.


Dürr focuses on cars: 1925 is not only the year of the first company car but it also sees an increasing number of orders from the automotive industry.

Economic crisis, National Socialism and wartime economy

In 1932 Otto Dürr takes over the business. At that time the company's existence is threatened by the world economic crisis. Things start to pick up again in the mid-1930s. 1936 sees the establishment of a modern branch in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, followed by a design office created in 1938. At the same time, day-to-day operations in German companies are increasingly dominated by the Nazi regime. This results in ideological interference and a loss of autonomy. When Hitler triggers the Second World War in 1939, Dürr is involved in arms production. In 1943 the main plant in Bad Cannstatt is destroyed during an air raid.


Expansion: a modern branch is established in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen in 1936.


The second and third generations of the Dürr family business: Otto and Betty, together with their sons Reinhold (left, 1936 – 2003) and Heinz (b. 1933).


In 1938 Franz Schanne, the first engineer, ushers in the engineering era at the Otto Dürr company. In his first week at work he buys a drawing board on his own initiative. Schanne's design drawings enable the company to manufacture more complicated sheet metal products.


Ideological 'alignment' in the Third Reich: once Germany has been radically transformed from a democracy into a dictatorship after Hitler seized power in 1933, mass events and propaganda in the Nazi state ensure the society's support of the regime. Shop-floor meetings are held in German companies to promote the values of the regime; Dürr is no exception.


Wartime production at the Otto Dürr company: all sheet metal parts for the NSU SdKfz 2 are made by Dürr. During the Second World War the half-track vehicle with a motorcycle-type front is used for German attacks on the Soviet Union.


In 1945, at the end of the war, many towns are reduced to rubble. Otto Dürr's main plant in Bad Cannstatt, was also completely destroyed during a night-time air raid in 1943.

From subcontractor to equipment manufacturer with its own product range

The 'zero hour' of 1945 also marks a new beginning for Dürr. Production in the Bad Cannstatt factory is unfeasible, and Zuffenhausen initially only makes sheet-metal products for domestic appliances, including a very popular kitchen range. After the currency reform, things start to improve. 1950 marks a turning point in the history of Dürr. The company enters the equipment engineering market, specializing in chemical surface treatment. In the years to follow, plant engineering expands to become a high-performing production sector, and the company grows steadily.


New horizons: in 1950 Otto Dürr embarks on a fact-finding trip to the United States, where he visits various industrial companies and plant engineering firms. On his return he decides to enter the surface processing market.


Trend-setting development: the single chamber gyrowheel spray phosphating plant for the pretreatment of disk wheels.


A successful field of business: equipment engineering becomes a high-performing production sector. The photo shows chief engineer Hubert Schillings, who heads up the department, as well as company director Otto Dürr and his son Heinz.


Increasing contact with the automotive industry: Heinz Dürr wants to expand the plant engineering business for the automotive industry in his father's company. The photo shows Heinz Dürr in front of his first car, a Bugatti. However, the company will not be working for this make.


More than just a valued business partner, Otto Dürr is an all-rounder when it comes to sport: in his spare time he tries almost every type of sport.


Nothing is impossible: the upgrade of Ford's paint shop in Cologne within just three weeks is thought to be impossible by the competition, and Dürr's decision to take on the project is derided. However, by mobilizing all available resources – from Heinz Dürr to the youngest apprentice – the project is completed as specified and on schedule. Heinz Dürr recalls: "Upgrades were always exciting. Dürr accepted projects that others did not want to take on. That was our strength."

Becoming a technology partner to the international automotive industry

In 1960 Heinz Dürr joins his father at the helm of the company. Three years later he and his engineers develop electrophoretic dip coating. This new coating process is the company's first step towards becoming a market leader in paint systems. The international expansion of carmakers leads to Dürr opening its first subsidiaries in Brazil and Mexico, with many others to follow. Collaboration and acquisitions broaden the range of paint system products and pave Dürr's way towards becoming an international systems company.


Paint systems for complete vehicle bodies: electrophoretic dip coating, also referred to as EC (electrocoating), makes the Dürr company a technology partner for the international automotive industry.


Taking customer proximity to a new level: a large order from Volkswagen do Brasil in 1964 leads to the foundation of the first foreign subsidiary in São Paulo, Dürr do Brasil.


Smooth transition: in response to Otto Dürr's grouchy question "Who do you think is the boss around here?", his son replies: "You’ll have to come to work at seven in the morning as usual then".


The Dürr employees in the newly designed open-plan office at the end of the 1960s: "Revamping the premises can sometimes lead to a revamp effect in employee behavior". (Heinz Dürr)


In 1975 Heinz Dürr becomes Chairman of the Baden-Württemberg Metalworking Industry Association. Five years later he enters the German corporate arena. As Chairman of the Management Board of AEG Telefunken he leads the ailing electrical company through composition proceedings to shelter under the financially sound umbrella of Daimler-Benz AG. He becomes Chairman of the Management Board of the German federal railway, Deutsche Bundesbahn, in 1991 at the request of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. During this period he forms the commercial enterprise Deutsche Bahn AG from the state railways, Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany.


No longer a fully family-run business: when Heinz Dürr takes over as head of the ailing electrical company AEG Telefunken, he withdraws from the operational management of Dürr and hands the running of the company to a non-family member, Reinhart Schmidt. The photo shows a 47-year-old Heinz Dürr representing AEG as he cycles through the center of Beijing.

Worldwide market and technology leader in paint shop construction

The 1989 acquisition of the Behr Group and the IPO required for this lead to two strategically important decisions. The takeover of the application technology specialist enables Dürr to significantly expand its core competence, i.e. the delivery of turnkey paint shops. The "mid-sized multi-national" (Heinz Dürr) thus becomes a world market leader. In the anniversary year of 1995, more than ten million vehicles pass through paint shops 'made by Dürr'. Further acquisitions follow – including that in 2000 of measuring technology group Carl Schenck – extending the company's global reach.


Strategic decision: the IPO gives the company the necessary financial resources to take over the Behr Group. Dürr stock begins trading on the German stock exchange on January 4, 1990. 100,000 shares are issued at DM 50 each. Majority shareholder Heinz Dürr becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Dürr AG. Dürr AG is now a member of the German M-DAX index.


Headquarters of a billionaire company: in 1990 sales of the Dürr Group exceed one billion deutsche mark for the first time. The premises in Zuffenhausen are later sold to Porsche.


The Dürr business couple: Heide Dürr has long been a member of the Dürr Systems GmbH Supervisory Board. She even takes on the role of chairperson for a few years. In addition, she ensures that culture is seen as a priority in the commercial enterprise that is Dürr.


Street renaming as part of the 100-year company anniversary: Spitalwaldstraße in Zuffenhausen is renamed Otto-Dürr-Straße.


In 1999 construction work for a new engineering center begins in Zuffenhausen under the project name of B 21. The new four-story building is connected to the existing buildings via a glass hall.


A somersault of innovation: in 2001 Dürr starts using the innovative dip painting technology RoDip in its projects. In the following years Dürr engineers further develop this technology and optimize, among other things, its energy and material consumption.

Reorientation and investment in the future

In 2005 the Dürr Group faces difficulties and finds itself in deep debt. This leads to comprehensive restructuring measures. Divisions that are not part of the core business are sold and one re-directs its focus towards mechanical and plant engineering, mainly for the automotive industry. In addition, a capital increase is carried out, to which the Dürr family contributes. Over the next few years the company responds to increasing demand in the emerging markets by creating additional capacities and new businesses. In 2014 the company acquires the HOMAG Group.


A quantum leap in high-speed rotating atomizer technology: in 2010 a team of developers of the division Application Technology introduces the EcoBell3 atomizer. Further innovations such as the EcoDryScrubber dry separation system ensure that Dürr can further increase its market share in the years to follow.


Urban experience for young academics: since 2013 the Dürr Group has positioned itself to students as an international employer by organizing the "Dürr Challenge" film competition.


A new location for Measuring and Process Systems: a new 30,000 m² manufacturing and office complex opens in Shanghai-Baoshan in 2013.


Acquisition: In 2014 the Dürr Group takes over the HOMAG Group. HOMAG, with headquarters in Schopfloch (Germany) is the worldmarket leader for production technology used by furniture producers and craftspeople.


Largest upgrade project in China: in 2015 a 17-year-old paint shop is modernized at SGM in Shanghai within just six weeks.

Designing the future with new innovations

Digital transformation has long taken hold in the corporate world, enabling intelligent processes, products, factories and services. In Germany this trend is referred to as Industry 4.0. Through its digital@DÜRR strategy, the Dürr Group is preparing itself for Industry 4.0. At the same time, the acquisition course is being continued. The company is developing into a 4 billion euro group.


Dürr launches the world’s first 7-axis robot, which is designed to provide greater flexibility and has a high cost reduction potential.


As part of the “digital@Dürr” strategy, the Dürr Group offers smart products and smart services, which create added value for the customer through intelligent use of data.


Through the ADAMOS (ADAptive Manufacturing Open Solutions) joint venture, DMG MORI, Dürr, Software AG and ZEISS as well as ASM PT create a strategic alliance for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – the themes of the future.


EcoInCure is one of Dürr’s newly developed processes for car body curing, whereby car bodies are heated and cooled from the inside. This technology meets all requirements for future drying tasks in terms of electromobility and new materials.


The acquisition of the US companies Megtec and Universal has enabled the Dürr Group to expand its market leadership in exhaust-air purification technology.


The HOMAG Group develops the ‘autonomous cell’, a workshop that operates fully autonomously. This enables one-off items to be produced fully automatically and with similar efficiency to series production.


E-mobility is on the advance worldwide. This also creates opportunities for the Dürr Group. The new, fully automated eTENO balancing machine from Schenck RoTec balances electric armatures that are required for cars with a hybrid, plug-in-hybrid or entirely electric drive.


No overspray, no masking: In spring Dürr presents the EcoPaintJet. With its innovative application technology, it enables automated, sharp-edged two-tone painting. Even the tiniest paint droplets land in precisely the right place.


Today, scalability and flexibility are central requirements for the production process in the automotive industry. Dürr has the right answer: the paint shop of the future. Be it new car models such as electric vehicles, individual cycle times, different scopes of application, or special customer requests – thanks to the independent boxes, all of these requirements can be met easily and quickly.

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