The German town of Barmen in 1870. This painting by landscape artist August von Wille shows how industrialised Barmen, which was then still a separate town to Wuppertal, already was.
The German town in which the international brand Standox was created is called Wuppertal. Innovation has a long tradition in Wuppertal. When the town was founded in 1929 through the merging of several previously independent municipalities, the entire region had already undergone meteoric development. That was particularly true of the neighbouring towns of Elberfeld and Barmen in which the industrial revolution had begun considerably earlier than in the nearby Ruhr region for example. In the second half of the 19th century these two towns, which now form part of Wuppertal, were at times considered to be the German equivalent to Manchester, the centre of English industry.
Just like Manchester, it was the textile industry that made the region great. “Barmer products”, above all twine, tape and braid, were exported throughout the world. Mechanisation drove this development forward. In 1875, there were already 420 steam engines at work in the valley by the Wupper (Wuppertal in German, hence the name of the city), many of them in textile factories.
The suspension railway, which opened in 1901, is shown here a postcard from 1914. It is still the emblem of Wuppertal to this day
Resourceful entrepreneurs here invented “iron yarn”, a hard-wearing cotton yarn that was suitable for a large number of applications such as lining fabrics, shoelaces or as sewing thread. The Vorwerk brothers (the business is still known today for its vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances and carpets) built a tape loom powered by steam, and became pioneers of mechanical carpet weaving. The boom of the textile industry attracted other businesses to the region including tool and machine builders, as well as chemical companies. Among these was the varnish and paint factory of Otto Louis Herberts whose grandson was Dr Kurt Herberts. And it was Dr Herberts who, as owner of the chemical company Herberts, eventually launched Standox onto the market.
Wuppertal is also known for another innovation: in 1901 a means of transport was introduced that has characterised the town to this day: the suspension railway. It has been running through Wuppertal for over 100 years, suspended from a steel frame – it is regarded as a technical masterpiece. For many years this emblem of the town was coated with Standox.
With over 340,000 inhabitants, Wuppertal is today one of Germany’s largest cities. This photos shows the Elberfeld part of town.
Herberts and subsequent owners of Standox have remained true to Wuppertal as the heart of the brand. In 1995 a waterborne paint plant was brought online whose computer controlled production processes set new standards. Today, Wuppertal is not only home to one of the largest refinish paint production sites in the world, but also to a modern, efficient marketing and training centre, built by Standox in 1998.
And the success story continues: Axalta Coating Systems has recently begun construction of an ultra-modern new waterborne paint plant next to the existing production line – a clear commitment to the Wuppertal production site.