A modest founder
The story of FUCHS reflects the courage of Rudolf Fuchs, an entrepreneur who was only 21 years old when the company was founded in 1931. He refused to be put off by the global economic crisis and founded the company "RUDOLF FUCHS" in Mannheim in May 1931. The crisis situation of 1931 suggested modesty. A simple box in the Mannheim abattoir was the first place of business. There, Rudolf Fuchs filled his "Guaranteed Pennsylvania Motor Oil" into canisters, signed them with the meaningful brand name PENNA PURA and sold them to transport companies in the harbor of Mannheim.
Even then, the top priority was to respond quickly and flexibly to customer needs. For example, Rudolf Fuchs was not afraid to personally cycle through Mannheim with an oil can when a customer urgently needed lubricant. Even though the Fuchs bicycle has since given way to other means of transport, our customers and their needs are still at the center of our activities today.
Mannheim Harbor - here Rudolf Fuchs sold his products to transport companies.
Company founder Rudolf Fuchs.
PENNA PURA - the young company's first brand.
A courageous step: from sales to manufacturing
Sales at the RUDOLF FUCHS company skyrocketed. The FUCHS company bicycle was replaced by a passenger car. The first support staff was hired. The sales program gradually expanded to two dozen different items, still including hay wagon grease or horse hoof ointment for the horse. But Rudolf Fuchs did not just settle for imported and purchased specialties.
In 1936 he created the first successfully in-house products - summer and winter transmission oils, produced according to recipes customary in the industry.
In 1937, Rudolf Fuchs acquired a developed plot ready for building on the Friesenheimer Insel, which is still today the company’s headquarters. The excavation work was done by the employees themselves, with the company boss at the helm. The inauguration of the new building in 1939 also marked the start of the company's own production. Rudolf Fuchs drafted the first handwritten recipes and laid down the manufacturing instructions.
The oldest price list from the RUDOLF FUCHS company.
The first tank wagon with brand advertising.
The first FUCHS truck.
At FUCHS, the outbreak of the 2nd World War loomed large. By January 1939, imports of the important Pennsylvanian engines and cylinder oils came to a standstill. Soon, other important upstream suppliers also failed. In addition to supply problems, there were also personnel shortages. Most male members of the FUCHS workforce were drafted. Since traffic and transportation companies, formerly the main consumers of FUCHS products, had to downsize their operations and make their fleet available to the armed forces, Rudolf Fuchs had to acquire new customers. New customers were found in the industrial sector. The task now was to develop industrial oils. This was not always easy, but FUCHS' flexibility paid off. If there was no suitable lubricant available, FUCHS developed a new product within no time.
Development in focus: Hiring the first chemist
Today, technologically advanced, process oriented and holistic lubricant solutions are a central success factor for FUCHS. Our worldwide network of experts meets customer requirements on a global level by quickly and efficiently networking fields of special expertise. The foundation for this was laid back in 1946 when the first chemist was hired. Today, more than 500 engineers and scientists work on over 600 research projects in 22 laboratories worldwide in the area of research and development, ensuring that we can supply high-quality, technologically advanced lubricants – ranging from standard to highly customized solutions.
Handwritten recipe of a ball bearing grease.
The company's first laboratory.
FUCHS realized early how important research and development are for success in the lubricants and speciality business.
On the track: FUCHS lubricants take motorsport by storm
Rudolf Fuchs recognized the opportunities of motorsport and racing advertising at an early stage. After the 2nd World War as one of the first lubricant companies, FUCHS sponsored the thriving motor racing sport and established a racing service. Starting in 1948, FUCHS race Service Teams were soon on all important racetracks. Renowned drivers used PENNA PURA racing oil RC.
Start of a new era
Manfred Fuchs’ real passion was art. But his father Rudolf Fuchs, founder of FUCHS, encouraged him to study a practical subject instead – which is why he opted to study business administration at the University of Mannheim in 1958 instead of enrolling at the art academy. Just one year later the family was dealt a severe blow when Rudolf Fuchs died. His son took on responsibility for the family business: alongside his studies, he served his apprenticeship years at the company. Manfred Fuchs took over the reins after graduating in 1963 at the age of just 24. In this new function, however, his creativity was a great asset: he "sculpted" the regional company into a global player in the lubricants sector in just twenty years. With more than three dozen acquisitions around the world, he was to realize his vision of a global company in the coming years.
Closer to the customer: first steps towards a global company
In the 1960s, FUCHS continued to develop steadily - even beyond the borders of Germany. The first foreign subsidiaries were founded in France and Spain in 1968. International expansion developed rapidly. Other subsidiaries soon followed in Austria, Sweden and Italy. But FUCHS also established itself outside Europe, for example in Brazil. In 1981, FUCHS also gained a foothold in Australia and the USA. The importance of business in Asia was also recognized at an early stage. In 1985, FUCHS was one of the first German companies to sign a joint venture agreement in China - a prerequisite for the first production facility in Yingkou. Today FUCHS can be found wherever our more than 100,000 customers need us – in over 50 countries around the globe:
Entrepreneurial vision: FUCHS launched on the stock exchange
In order to financially underpin the numerous expansions, Manfred Fuchs, his mother and his two sisters decided to float the company on the stock exchange in 1985. However, the family was to retain the decisive voting majority in the future. Preference shares were therefore initially issued. The shares were placed by public offer at a price of DM 100 for each DM 50 share. There was a high level of oversubscription. The shares were approved for trading and official listing on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges. Both trading and official listing commenced on January 30, 1985. In the following year, FUCHS also went public with ordinary shares. However, the majority of the voting shares always remained in the possession of the founding family even during the increases in capital stock of the subsequent years, in which the founding family always participated. With a stock exchange value of just over 5 billion euros, FUCHS PETROLUB is today one of the most valuable and successful stocks on the MDAX. The shareholders have enjoyed an increase in value of about 9,000 percent over the last 20 years.
The key players of the company and family at the start of the stock exchange trading with preference shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
Historical FUCHS ordinary share certificate.
Stock exchange introduction document of FUCHS.
The next generation: Stefan Fuchs takes the lead
After heading the company for 41 years and leading it from a regional lubricants manufacturer into a global market and technology leader Dr. Manfred Fuchs left the Executive Board and was succeeded by his son. With Stefan Fuchs, the third generation of the family took over the leadership of the Group on 1st January 2004. When appointed, the 35 year-old business management graduate had previously worked for two years in the auditing sector and three years at FUCHS in North and South America, before he became a member of the Executive Board in 1999 responsible for the business in Europe. Manfred Fuchs eventually moved to the Supervisory Board, where he was to serve as Deputy Chairman until 2017.
Visionary investments: FUCHS launches the largest investment program in the company's history
In order to continue to grow profitably and sustainably in the future, FUCHS launched the largest investment program in its history in 2016. Between 2016 and 2018, about €300 million were invested in plant expansions and the construction of new production facilities - globally. For example, new grease plants were built in the USA and South Africa. New production facilities were built in Australia and Sweden. An intelligent lubricants plant was opened in Wujiang, China. In addition, the Asian headquarters and research and development hub in Shanghai were significantly expanded and modernized. In subsequent years, an average of €100 million per year were continued to be invested in organic growth. Most recently in the construction of a new polyurea plant in Kaiserslautern and a new office building at the Mannheim site.
The state-of-the-art plant in Fors, Sweden, meets highest quality, safety and environmental standards.
The new plant in Australia features a high degree of digitalization, automatic high-speed filling and corrosion-resistant piping and tanks.
In addition to the PU production plant, the Kaiserslautern site was also expanded to include a new high-bay warehouse, two production halls and new office space.
Start of a new journey: FUCHS2025 initiative
Autonomous driving, e-mobility, new digital business models and the need for sustainable business - to meet these challenges, FUCHS is launching the FUCHS2025 initiative in 2018, which will address the topics of culture, strategy and structure. The goal: to build strengths and align our organization globally in order to realize our vision of 'Being First Choice' - that is, being the first choice for our customers, business partners, investors, future employees.
New solutions require new ways of operating. And new ways of operation require a new approach and a fresh mindset.
Six strategic pillars form the base of the FUCHS2025 strategy. They are the guiding principles for the strategic actions to reach our vision for FUCHS2025.
We are responding to new challenges with a new mindset – an attitude that brings strategy, structure and culture into line in a purposeful way.