June 27 - 29, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany
A new world order, "Wirtschaftswunder", atomic energy and computers
In the second half of the 20th century, one technical innovation chased the next. Cars were now a normal part of road traffic, people were intrigued by the landing on the moon, with the Jumbo Jet the first regular transatlantic air service began. The headlines included topics like genetics technology, atomic energy and computers.
On the political side, there was also much to talk about: Terrorist attacks shocked Germany, the international oil crisis enforced the hunt for alternative energies, environment protection became an established concept, and the German-German border fell.
In the house of Kroenert, the stable economic situation was clouded by the death of Hans-Jens Meyer in 1954. His son, Dr. Hans-Erich Meyer, took over management. Under his guidance, the company discovered a new market: the packaging industry. Kroenert's laminating machines could combine different paper and film webs at high speed and bond them to a multi-layer material complex.
Kroenert presented these groundbreaking machines to customers from all over the world on international trade fairs like Guida Pollini, IPEX and Drupa. The company went through a creative development phase, several new machine types were developed and constructed. These new machine can print on even the thinnest aluminum foils of 6µ extremely fast and multi-colored. Parallel to expanding production, a building boom shook the premises: Between 1956 and 1967, a total of seven new buildings and extensions were built. And the family succession was also secured: Burkhard Meyer, the son of Dr. Hans-Erich Meyer, joined the company.
With improved machine options, the customers also demanded more. For a long time, Dr. Hans-Erich Meyer had the wish to be able to demonstrate all options of Kroenert production lines extensively to his customers. This wish resulted in an idea that distinguished Kroenert from all competitors: The research centre (today called Technology Center). Here the customers could run trials using their own material, assisted by Kroenert personnel, in order to find the optimum machine configuration. Experiences made in the center could in turn help Kroenert to keep their designs state-of-the-art all the time.
By the end of 60s, Kroenert was a worldwide-acting company with more than 450 employees. But the energy crisis in the 70s also left its mark on Kroenert. Investments of plastic-processing industry shrunk, competition in the market was getting tougher.
The company compensated for this loss in revenue by focussing more on new developments in the chemical industry. The production of high-precision pressure-sensitive adhesive and silicone coating machines became a new specialty of the works, next to the conventional wax and hotmelt systems. By the time of death of Dr. Hans-Erich Meyer in 1981, Kroenert had become an internationally successful specialized company for coating and laminating machines.
In 1989, the company, now under leadership of Burkhard Meyer, dared to hop across the Atlantic: The first international subsidiary, Kroenert Corporation in Iowa, USA, opened its doors.
But as always and everywhere in history, there were ups and downs. In the mid-90s, the order books were empty, the competition on the markets was fierce and the financial situation tense. By selling property, reducing staff and selling the RECO of the Technology Center, the financial difficulties could be overcome.
But without the options in the Technology Center, it was hard to convince potential customers of the technical possibilities of Kroenert production lines. A new line needed to be procured, but the financial situation was bad and the required loan of 5 million DM was not granted. A spontaneous statement from the workforce became the basis of a brand new idea: „Then we'll build the machine by ourselves after work!“. The idea was born to let the staff participate financially in the new system. The employees could grant a loan or credit work hours to a special account. Participation was massive, and together they collected more than one million. With that security, the loan was not a problem any more, and in 1997 the construction of the new RECO for the Technology Center began, the completion of which provided Kroenert with the largest and fastest test line in the world.
For the employees, this commitment paid off twice: Orders came back in, they all kept their jobs and the invested money yielded a harvest.