Transforming opportunities into success
Bischof + Klein has been producing sacks, bags, and films at its headquarters for the past 100 years. This year, the family-owned company itself will be celebrating its 130th anniversary. Around 2,700 employees at five locations in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Poland produce flexible packaging and technical films made of plastic and laminates. With annual sales of around 618 million euros, Bischof + Klein is one of the largest full-service suppliers in Europe.
It all started back in 1892 in a barn in Lengerich, where Alwin Klein and Hermann Bischof were using an embossing press to print verses from the Bible onto cardboard and went on to found “Papierfabrik und Prägeanstalt Bischof & Klein.” The product portfolio also included pyrography, devotional literature, and postcards.
The sons Ernst, Hans, and Werner Klein came up with an entirely new idea. In 1922, they began to produce paper sacks for the domestic cement and lime industry. This division had already swelled to employ 60 staff by 1924.
Together with the Windmöller & Hölscher machine factory, Ernst Klein developed the first “heavy duty stepped bottom paper sack tuber” and revolutionized industrial paper sack and bag production in 1928. With 32 million paper sacks sold, Bischof + Klein was one of the biggest producers in Germany in 1950. Paper bags printed to achieve effective promotion for consumer items such as sugar were added. In 1953, Bischof + Klein was one of the leading manufacturers in this sector, too.
Plastic took the packaging industry by storm in the 1960s. Bischof + Klein began producing sacks and bags made of polyethylene, or PE, early on. In the 1980s, investments in new technologies enabled entirely new products to be manufactured. Bischof + Klein advanced to become the market leader in vacuum packaging for coffee and in surface protection films.
During this period, the company assumed a pioneering role in environmental protection. Bischof + Klein addressed the criticism leveled at plastic production under the motto "We are environmentally active.” The company’s pioneering responses were low-emission production and the sparing use of resources by implementing increasingly thinner films. Today, Bischof + Klein is setting new standards with the use of post-consumer recyclate (PCR) and the recyclability of its packaging. The company’s aim is for over 70 percent of its consumer packaging to be recyclable and/or manufactured with PCR by 2024. This is how the family-owned company intends to make an important contribution to a sustainable circular economy.
In the new innovation center, Lengerich packaging specialists are working together with customers, machine manufacturers, and raw material suppliers from around the globe on new ideas for environmentally-friendly product protection. Numerous awards in recent years are confirmation of our successful development work.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Bischof + Klein took on a leading role as a supplier of high-purity packaging for vaccines. The first fully encapsulated clean room production facility for manufacturing high-purity packaging for the medical, pharmaceuticals, and electronics industries became operational back in 2004. This sector has grown constantly since then. Another new hall for clean room production is set to be inaugurated at the end of the anniversary year.
CEO Dr. Tobias Lührig: “The company’s history shows that Bischof + Klein has always grasped its opportunities and transformed them into success at precisely the right time. In the 130th year of its existence, the company is once again undergoing a process of major transformation. We’re making Bischof + Klein fit for the future. In order to survive among the international competition in the long term, we are investing in digitalization and realigning ourselves strategically. Our declared goal is that we want to be one of the five best companies in our industry in Europe.”
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