A century's evolution of a company rich in traditions and well prepared for future challenges.
Since the beginning in 1937, ROCKWOOL International A/S has developed into a globally oriented company operating 27 stone wool factories and 6 other factories on three continents. At present, the Group employs more than 10,400 highly skilled persons.
Thus much has changed since the trademark ROCKWOOL was registered. Already in 1909 a building contractor, H.J. Henriksen, and a tile manufacturer, V. Kähler, together founded the company I/S H.J. Henriksen & V. Kähler on a small island in the Great Belt in Denmark. Until 1937 the main activities included digging for gravel, marl, and coal as well as manufacturing tiles.
In 1916 G. Kähler took over the position of his father in the company, and in 1933 H.J. Henriksen died and was later succeeded by his son, F. Henriksen.
In 1935 the company bought drawings and property rights for production and sale of stone wool used for insulation purposes throughout Scandinavia. The price was USD 5000. In 1937-1938 stone wool factories were established in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
The early years
At the beginning of the 1940s the company's stone wool production only constituted a small part of its turnover, and during World War II the activity was especially low.
However, ever more efficient management and production processes as well as a high degree of attention to research and development paved the way for a gradual expansion of the stone wool activities.
In 1951 Deutsche ROCKWOOL was established, and in 1954 production was started at the first factory outside Scandinavia, in Germany.
In the 1960s the ROCKWOOL Group spread out to Finland and Schwitzerland, and in the 1970s to France and Great Britain.
The ROCKWOOL Group on its own
At the beginning of the 1960s Henriksen & Kähler was still a highly diversified conglomerate.
However, in 1962, after more than half a century of mutually beneficial co-operation between the two owner families, the families agreed to split the company between them. Claus Kähler, then CEO of the company, prepared a division proposal. The proposal was presented for the Henriksen family who chose the traditional parts of the company comprising gravel pits, aerated concrete and so forth. Hence the Kähler family took over full ownership of the ROCKWOOL Group. The company changed its name to I/S Kähler & Co.
The oil crisis
The 1970s were good years for the ROCKWOOL Group. Due to the oil crisis with rapidly increasing energy prices all over the world many people had their eyes opened to the advantages of insulating their houses. The ROCKWOOL Group experienced an increase in turnover from DKK 360 million in 1970 to DKK 1,6 billion in 1979.
New times - new products
During the 1980s ROCKWOOL International A/S, as the company had been called since 1976, discovered that stone wool could be useful for many other purposes than insulation. Many years of intensive focus on research and development now lead to the introduction of a wide range of new products based on the highly refined stone wool technology. The Rockment subsidiary produced partitions for walls, floors and ceilings. The ROCKFON subsidiary produced acoustic products, and the GRODANia subsidiary produced a special water-absorbing mineral wool product substituting soil or sphagnum in green houses. Today these and other non-insulation products constitute an important and growing part of the ROCKWOOL Group's turnover.
The wide world...
During the 1990s the ROCKWOOL Group experienced its fastest geographical expansion rate ever. It began already in 1988 with the acquisition of ROCKWOOL International's first stone wool factory in North America, placed near Toronto, Canada.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain the ROCKWOOL Group began its expansion towards Eastern Europe. The first factory was bought in 1991 in the former DDR. In 1993 and 1995 this was followed up by acquisitions of 2 factories in Poland. In 1997 the ROCKWOOL Group bought a stone wool factory in Hungary, in 1998 one in the Czech Republic, and in 1999 the biggest stone wool factory in the Russian Federation.
The expansion towards the East was in 1999 followed up by an expansion towards the Southern European markets as well. That year the ROCKWOOL Group acquired a factory on the island of Sardinia in Italy and began the construction of a novel factory in Spain.
In the year 2000 the ROCKWOOL Group started its expansion towards the Far East with the acquisition of a factory in Malaysia.
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