June 22, 2016 / Press Release

Ensinger celebrates 50th company anniversary

Berthold Leibinger and Former German President Horst Köhler emphasize the importance of medium-sized Enterprises

Following the early days working from a garage in Ehningen, over the next half century, plastics processor Ensinger was to turn the small business into an international company group. Today, Ensinger is represented with production sites and sales offices in all important economic regions of the world. Last financial year the 2,300 staff generated a turnover of 402 million Euros.

Joining with employees from home and abroad, long-term customers and suppliers as well as an array of honoured guests from the world of politics and business, the family firm celebrated its 50th company anniversary on June 17 with a ceremony in Böblingen's Kongresshalle.

The evening program for 500 guests was preceded by an entertaining address by Klaus Ensinger and Dr. Roland Reber enriched by anecdotes and a generous dose of self-irony. In dialogue, the two Managing Directors took a retrospective look back at the company's history: They described the beginnings during the sixties, when Wilfried Ensinger would regularly put in a night shift after a long and arduous working day testing new methods or manufacturing semi-finished products. The first two home-built production plants were installed in a garage which was hardly long enough to extrude fibre-reinforced plastics into rods. Before an extruded length reached the other side of the road, it was cut off using a tenon saw. Wilfried Ensinger's wife Martha took the finished products to the station in the pram – until one fine day it collapsed under the weight. His father, according to Klaus Ensinger, read that as a good omen at the time. "Things are on the way up!"

Klaus Ensinger and Roland Reber recalled other successes which Ensinger has been able to notch up over the past five decades: "Consistent growth achieved, never a single loss registered in any year, hollow chamber profiles made possible, successful diversification with new product lines, and finally launch of the first extrusion process in Asia". But the pair were anxious not to leave out less successful ventures either: "The leap over the pond only took off on the second attempt following one failed joint venture in the USA. Wounds which took a long time to heal include purchased production plants which later had to be closed, and separation from the employees and management."

Today, the markets are hotly contested and margins are narrow. This, they emphasized, made it all the more important to take a critical look at the company's activity and question strategic decisions. Overall, the Management Board takes an optimistic view of the future, with ever closer cooperation between company divisions playing a key role, as well as digitalization and more training and education.

"We work together and we treat each other with fairness", emphasized Roland Reber. Klaus Ensinger was also keen to highlight the feeling of community within the company: "It is precisely this spirit which has made us what we are today. Our culture is here to stay, as are our values. We will remain a family firm."

Prof. Dr. Berthold Leibinger: "Completion of a great lifetime achievement"

The first guest speech of the evening delivered by Professor Dr. Berthold Leibinger was delightfully framed by enjoyable musical contributions from the prize-winning New Chamber Choir of Heidenheim and the Symphony Orchestra of the Albert-Einstein School of Böblingen. The former Chief Executive of the Trumpf Group called Wilfried Ensinger an "almost archetypal founding entrepreneur". Leibinger recalled the shortage of capital and labour in the sixties. And later on - in the same way as Ensinger - he had always been on the lookout for gaps and new challenges. An entrepreneur regularly asks himself the question: "Can I take the next step? Can I open a branch plant or will I be overreaching myself?"

Wilfried Ensinger, according to Berthold Leibinger, stands as a "leading light of the medium-sized enterprise culture", who like himself firmly believes in the social market economy and shares the underlying conviction that ownership creates an obligation to work for the common good. "Through further development of the company and by setting up the Wilfried Ensinger Foundation, you have achieved something for society."

Berthold Leibinger also emphasized the importance of Wilfried Ensinger's wife in building up the business. From the very beginning she encouraged and supported his endeavours. "Without Martha Ensinger the company would not be what it is today", emphasized Leibinger. "Together, they have succeeded in creating an exceptional lifetime achievement!" 

Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler, former German President: Success model of a family firm 

In his speech, the former German President Dr. Horst Köhler, who has been a friend of the Ensinger family for many years, congratulated "all those who have contributed towards this success story." Wilfried Ensinger had succeeded, he went on, to "form an exceptionally skilled workforce", also on an international level. "Innovation, quality focus and team spirit are what have made this company great."

The former German President went on to describe Ensinger as unique and yet typical as a model for a successful medium-sized family firm to whom Germany had good reason to be grateful. The inventiveness and willingness of such medium-sized companies to embrace risk have been "a decisive factor to economic success and social cohesion, as they ensure prosperity and offer training, work and an income to millions of people,"

Köhler wishes there were a return to the spirit of entrepreneurship and a greater appreciation of small and medium sized businesses. He sees Wilfried Ensinger, who as President of the Regional Chamber of Commerce had also voiced a call for businesses to embrace entrepreneurial risk, as a shining example of a businessman with the will to live a life of self-determination and so achieve benefit not only for the family but for the greater good.

On behalf of the workforce and the two younger generations of the owner family, bringing the evening to an end finally Klaus Ensinger thanked his parents. "If you had not had the courage 50 years ago to establish this company, we would all not be standing here today". The founder, who turned 80 in May, interrupted the rapturous applause and said: "I am overwhelmed, ecstatic – and speechless."

Employee party with international football tournament 

The next day saw the second part of the Jubilee celebrations in Rottenburg-Ergenzingen. The biggest employee party ever thrown since the company was founded was attended by over 1,300 guests from around the world: alongside the German employees and their families, employees from the subsidiaries were also on the guest list. The traditional football tournament kicked off the proceedings. The final game for the "Ensinger Cup" was won by the Ensinger Italia subsidiary against the Nufringen parent factory team with a penalty shoot-out.

The Jubilee celebrations continued on into the evening in a marquee. When the cover rock band "Madison Bow" took to the stage, there was no stopping the party-goers. Whole departments were up dancing on the tables already by the second song. The party went on until late into the night. After all, a company only turns 50 once.


More information:

The milestones which have marked the development of the Ensinger Group tell the story of a family firm which has never been content to rest on its laurels. The continuous further development of products and production processes and the encouragement of employee potential have been essential aspects of our corporate mission since the very early days.

About Ensinger

The Ensinger group is engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of compounds, semi-finished materials, profiles and technical parts made of engineering and high performance plastics through extrusion, machining and injection moulding. With a total of 2,300 employees at 28 locations, the family-owned enterprise is represented worldwide in all major industrial regions with manufacturing facilities or sales offices.

Your Contact for Editorial Questions

Jörg Franke

Ensinger GmbH
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