125 years of Dürr – few companies can look back at a history as long and rich as ours. We are using the anniversary as an opportunity to take a look into the past and retrace our journey all the way from workshop to world market leader.
Scroll through the last 125 years or jump directly to a specific time period.
- 1896-1918: Laying the foundation during the German Empire
- 1919-1932: The ups and downs of the interwar period
- 1933-1945: The period of National Socialism
- 1946-1962: Entry into plant engineering
- 1963-1988: Technology partner of the international automotive industry
- 1989-2004: IPO and acquisitions
- 2005-present: Reorientation and investment in the future
In 1896, at the time of German Emperor William II., Paul Dürr founds a metal shop for roof flashing in Cannstatt near Stuttgart. Known in German as ‘Bauflaschnerei‘, this is what plumbing businesses or tinsmith workshops are still called in southern Germany today. The workshop carries out metal work on roofs and facades, soon gaining an excellent reputation. Even during the foundation phase, its order books are healthy, projects become more complex and the scope increases. However, the outbreak of World War I brings Dürr’s growth to an abrupt end.
The turmoil of the post-war years initially offers the boss and his employees not a breath of respite. In 1923, which marks a crisis in the Weimar Republic, Paul’s son Otto joins the company. From the very beginning, the job requires more than just the manual skills of the 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. The boom of the ‘Golden Twenties’ and the global economic crisis continue to leave their mark on the Dürr company’s further development.
A modern branch is established in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, a design office is installed, and the third generation of the Dürr family business grows up – these events are overshadowed by more radical developments in the 1930s. With the seizing of power by the National Socialists begins the darkest chapter in German history.
Otto Dürr, in search of a new business field in post-war Germany, ventures into plant engineering. The company becomes a sought-after specialist in this field during the German economic miracle era. In 1957 Heinz Dürr becomes the third generation to join the family business. A few years later he takes on a role in the company’s management, alongside his father, and increasingly becomes a driving force. Heinz Dürr makes a conscious decision to align the company’s development closely to the booming automotive industry.
Automobile manufacturers are increasingly becoming key customers for Dürr. The final breakthrough on the way to becoming the industry’s technology partner is achieved with a new coating process, electrophoretic dip coating. The company positions itself as a manufacturer of painting facilities. Dürr follows its customers overseas and establishes its first foreign subsidiary in Brazil. In the following years, many additional locations are established in other countries, including Mexico, the US and South Africa. The product range in painting technology is expanded by collaborations and acquisitions. The family business becomes an internationally recognized system provider.
The IPO in 1989 sets the course for further growth. It provides the necessary financial resources for the acquisition of the Behr Group. The takeover of the application technology specialist marks the company’s entry into the world of painting robots. Dürr succeeds in significantly expanding its core competency, the supply of turnkey paint shops, thus becoming the world market leader. Further acquisitions follow, including that of the measuring technology group Carl Schenck in 2000. However, the corporate acquisitions lead to a high level of indebtedness. As a result, Dürr experiences financial difficulties shortly after the turn of the millennium.
After economically difficult years, Dürr succeeds in turning the tide in 2005. The Group is becoming more agile, modern and efficient. With renewed self-confidence, the company expands its position in the emerging market of China, even during the Lehman financial crisis: a far-sighted step that really pays off. In 2014, Dürr acquires the HOMAG Group, the worldwide number one in the woodworking industry. With now three sub-groups – Dürr Systems, Schenck and HOMAG – the company is a technological leader and well positioned to meet future challenges. In order to stay ahead of the game even in the future, the focus today is on digitalization and automation, and increasingly on sustainability.