160 years of WEHRLE in Emmendingen, 100 years of WEHRLE-WERK AG

New paths, different perspectives – since 1860, today and in the future

This year, WEHRLE-WERK AG is celebrating the 160th anniversary of the company, which was founded by Wilhelm Wehrle as “Mechanical Workshop and Boiler Shop” in 1860. At that time, the factory was located on the outskirts of Emmendingen in the South-West of Germany. Today, it is located in the center of the town. Especially at the beginning of the 20th century, the town grew around the factory with and because of WEHRLE. The central location and the proximity to the population still characterize the solidity of the family-owned company.

1964 main entrance of  WEHRLE-WERK AG - copyright Peter Thomann

Local roots, international activities

Today, the medium-sized company has over 210 employees worldwide and is active in more than 45 countries with international subsidiaries and sales partners. The current focus of business development is the growth market South East Asia. In addition to the economic development, the company attaches great importance to sustainability. Since 2010, WEHRLE has been producing two thirds of its own power consumption, reducing thus significantly its own CO2 footprint. This sustainable approach and the consistency do not only characterize the products and services, they also reflect the way WEHRLE works and treats its employees.

Development into a GreenTech company

Already in the 1970s, the company included the thermal utilization of waste in its product portfolio and in 2006, it commissioned the first MYT®plant for the treatment of unsorted municipal solid waste, one of the most advanced waste treatment technologies worldwide.

In the 1980s and 1990s, WEHRLE added technologies for the treatment of complex, highly loaded wastewaters to its range of services – a product focus with a future. Further innovative world novelties for wastewater treatment followed, including one of the first industrial water recycling plants for the wastewater-free industry.

Research on tomorrow’s resource efficiency and waste disposal technologies

The further development of the GreenTech company remains on 2020’s agenda. The Research and Development Department is working on several own research projects as well as on funded projects on regional and federal level. The research activities cover various topics in the fields of sustainability and innovation, such as conservation of resources, material recovery or water reuse. It is not unusual that renowned universities contact WEHRLE as an experienced and practice-oriented research partner.

Success story

The employees of the company have always significantly contributed to WEHRLE’s success. Through all time periods until today, the employees have shaped WEHRLE-WERK’s history.

WEHRLE’s corporate culture is characterized by respect and team spirit as well as openness, competence and years of work for the company, sometimes over several generations.

For the family-owned company, social responsibility on all levels is also a core part of its corporate culture. For many years, the WEHRLE-WERK Foundation for Nursing Support has been committed to offering services in several nursing homes in the region and in its own neighborhood. By promoting young talents, WEHRLE achieves a training percentage of 10 % and offers apprenticeships for up to six trainees and four technical college students every year.

With full speed into a new era

In 1887, Otto Wehrle, son of the company founder Wilhelm Wehrle, took over the business with 12 employees and trainees. He formed the anchor of the company, the manufacturing of large components. Since then, this business division has supplied large parts weighing up to 40 t to the machine and plant construction industry, an important unique selling point in the region.

Otto Wehrle specialized on brewery equipment as well as steam boilers and shaped the international orientation of the business with his decisions. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, for instance, clients in Central America, Africa and Asia were able to buy WEHRLE products. This decision required the purchase of modern machinery and the redesign of the factory premises.

The expansion of the factory site in the growing town was repeatedly confronted with obstacles, even though in those days industrial companies in city centers were not uncommon and seen as a sign of progess and prosperity. They brought along different investments, for example roads and social facilities.

As in the early days of the company, WEHRLE is still playing a major role in the shaping of the townscape of Emmendingen. With the so-called “Emmendinger Plan“, WEHRLE has presented a concept for the development and opening of the factory site towards the town center. Besides the ecological enhancement of the site, the aim of the concept study is the connection of industry, culture and social facilities.

Conversion into a stock corporation

100 years ago, on April 8th, 2020, Otto Wehrle transformed the private company registered on his name into a stock corporation: WEHRLE-WERK AG. Since that day, 100 % of the corporate shares are held by the family of the company founder and are currently distributed to the 5th, 6th and 7th generation. In 2018, Heiner Steinberg from the 6th generation became CEO.

The early introduction of a corresponding corporate governance is one of the reasons why WEHRLE is one of the few companies today that is still 100 % family-owned in the 6th generation.

2012 Wehrle Werk & centre of Emmendingen