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05/10/2021

Tyrol State Government Bestows Honor

The Plansee Group celebrated its centenary in the Walter Schwarzkopf hall on October 1, 2021. Paul Schwarzkopf founded Metallwerk Plansee GmbH in the Breitenwang municipality of Ausserfern, Tyrol, on June 24, 1921. It is in this rural paradise that the business grew into a world-renowned company. The Plansee Group now manages 48 manufacturing sites from its headquarters in Breitenwang/Reutte, with a focus on the materials molybdenum and tungsten. The Group has more than 13,000 employees worldwide.

Award of the Tyrolean coat of arms
President of the Tyrol Economic Chamber Christoph Walser (left), Governor Günther Platter (two from left), and President of the Provincial Parliament Sonja Ledl-Rossmann grant Chairman of the Plansee Supervisory Board Michael Schwarzkopf the right to bear the state coat of arms by official certificate.

The official ceremony for the Group's centenary took place three months later than originally planned. In his welcoming address, board spokesman Karlheinz Wex emphasized that "we will continue along the path of success that we have walked for the past 100 years. Our clear focus will be the materials molybdenum and tungsten and we will achieve our goal of becoming world number 1, 2, or 3 in all our business activities or at least make significant progress in our pursuit of this goal. And we want to be an attractive employer at every point where we have a manufacturing or sales presence in our global corporate network." 

In his speech, chairman of the supervisory board Michael Schwarzkopf confirmed that this big anniversary was something special. In his words: "Many different factors need to be in synergy for a company to thrive for so long. To survive all manner of crises, it takes commercial vision and courage, the commitment of those involved, owner confidence in the sustainability of the company, and also a bit of luck. I stand here today with pride, immense pleasure, but also gratitude. All of you here today have played a role in making the Plansee Group a successful, international industrial group in the field of the high-tech materials molybdenum and tungsten over the course of its 100-year history." 

Among the many guests and guests of honor was Governor Günther Platter, who honored the Plansee Group with the Tyrolean coat of arms on behalf of the Tyrol State Government. Platter emphasized that "for 100 years, the Plansee Group has played more of a role in supporting and shaping the development of the Reutte district than any other company. To this day, the company continues to be characterized by its exceptional pioneering spirit and strong attachment to its roots, which benefits the 2,400 employees who work in the Reutte district alone. In special recognition of this successful history, the pioneering company will in the future bear the Tyrolean coat of arms, which the state of Tyrol bestows upon people and companies for their outstanding services." 

100 years of powder magic and the art of metallurgy

Paul Schwarzkopf can without a doubt be referred to as a modern-period alchemist. The chemist and doctor of technical sciences was an ambitious entrepreneur and inventor who recognized the potential of the two materials, molybdenum and tungsten, at an early stage. In the early 20th century, he devised a process for the industrial production of filament from tungsten wire. In 1909, Paul Schwarzkopf was the co-founder of "Deutsche Glühfadenfabrik" in Berlin, and in 1920 "Naamlooze Vennootschap Vereenigte Draadfabricken" (N.V.V.D.) in Nijmegen in the Netherlands would follow. Demand for electric light, and consequently for filaments, was enormous though, and the entrepreneur was searching for a more cost-effective manufacturing location that offered ample hydroelectric power. His quest ended successfully at Lake Plansee.  

Together with his financial partner Richard Kurtz, Paul Schwarzkopf on June 24, 1921 established Metallwerk Plansee GmbH and in 1922, with 15 employees, started to manufacture products from molybdenum and tungsten on an industrial scale. 

Soon, other components for different application areas were added to the production of filaments for incandescent lamps. For the automotive industry, for example–when in 1925 automobile manufacturer Henry Ford placed the first major contract for tungsten contact plates. Anodes for X-ray machines were also among the young entrepreneur's first products. The company founder Paul Schwarzkopf recognized the potential of the materials molybdenum and tungsten early on, as is clearly expressed in his vision: “Our metals drive machines, bring light into our houses, transmit words and pictures across large distances, and do thousands of other useful and important things“.

1000 other useful things

Today, the Plansee Group makes life safe, cutting-edge, mobile and digital with more than 75,000 products, for example with components for energy transmission and distribution, medical technology, consumer electronics, semiconductor production, the construction industry, as well as road, rail and air traffic. Components made by Plansee are "hidden" in many everyday goods such as smart phones, tablets and computers, in high-tech devices such as computer tomography machines, but also in luxury items such as upscale chronographs. 

Strong metals for a better future

"The essence of Plansee is the ability to evolve. For 100 years, we have continually built bridges for our customers to new applications. And in the process we repeatedly transform ourselves," comments Executive Board member Wolfgang Köck on the steady enhancement of the product range in the company's 100-year history which to this day shapes Plansee's identity.

The next transformation has already started. In the course of digitalization, "the new challenges lie in becoming part of a highly complex, global value chain, and producing and supplying each of our products at the exactly defined time, in the correct quantity and quality, and in a specific region," adds Karlheinz Wex, spokesman of the Executive Board. Production, sales, logistic flows, and all administrative areas undergo continual optimization in this process. 

Entrepreneurship with strong values

In the company's 100-year history, the mission and values provide stability and guidance. The canon of values focuses on the stability in the corporate culture and, at the same time, on the ability to change. To be able to exist in the global market, the company and the employees have to adapt to present challenges and grow with change. As in the past, the company attaches great importance to training and continuing education, and integrates employees into the work processes through personal initiative and shared responsibility. In an effort to continuously deliver excellence in powder metallurgy, the company for generations has reinvested the majority of profits into infrastructure, equipment, technologies, and the development of new products.

The powerhouse at Lake Plansee

As open as the future may be, one thing is certain: the international group will continue to be managed from the headquarters in Reutte. Just like over the past 100 years, management emphasizes sustainable growth. Through shareholdings and by expanding operational facilities and upgrading equipment, the Plansee Group is safeguarding the company's future. This is what the family-owned company is known for under the founder's grandson and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Michael Schwarzkopf.

A number of scientific initiatives and Plansee's cultural offerings round out the comprehensive commitment to employees and the region. This includes the Plansee seminars, which have drawn scientists from around the globe to the Ausserfern region ever since the 1950s, the plant concert band, and the Plansee concerts featuring popular international musicians.