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An conversation with Ulrich and Norbert Bohle

Only one percent of German companies can look back on 100 years of history – and only very few of them are still family-owned. Bohle is one of them. What do you think is the secret of your success?

Norbert Bohle: Our grandfather passionately lived up to this demand for quality to such an extent that it became a guiding principle of our company and is still one of our highest priorities 100 years later.
Ulrich Bohle: There is no such thing as a secret. But there is one factor which has contributed considerably to the success of our company: our high demand for quality.

Workshop of the brother-in-law of company founder Josef Bohle

And the conditions were completely different back then.

Norbert Bohle: Absolutely. In the early 1920s, currency depreciation had reached its worst point. Unemployment was high and there was a severe economic depression. Our grandfather, however, didn ́t give up that easily.
Ulrich Bohle: He worked as a locksmith in different companies and gained extensive knowledge about the manufacturing of cutting wheels. He was convinced that the production process of these tools could be improved, so he founded his own in company in his brother-in-law ́s workshop in Solingen in 1923.

Did the family play an important role from the beginning?
"Company and family have always acted as a unit. Our father also became a locksmith and ended up joining the company. In those days, the residential house stood immediately next to the company building. And when we were children, we could drive our scooters through the factory hall."
Norbert Bohle, Bohle AG 2023

The initial hard times and the War finally gave way to an upswing in Germany. How did the Economic Miracle affect Bohle?

Ulrich Bohle: The demand for our products increased – also beyond the borders of Germany. The Silberschnitt glass cutter was very sought-after and the brand as such was even better known than our family name. Some even referred to us as Mr. Silberschnitt instead of Mr. Bohle.

Ulrich Bohle in an interview

What happened next?

Norbert Bohle: The next bestseller was our Veribor suction lifter, initially known as suction gripper. And the company also continued to grow. So finally, the two of us also ended up joined the company. New inventions were constantly added to our portfolio and we had to expand our production facilities. We finally found what we were looking for in the city of Haan.

Why not Solingen?

Ulrich Bohle: There the availability of industrial plots was limited at that time. That ́s why our father bought a property in the Haan Industrial Park West in 1969. I was the first family member to move to an office on the new premises a year later. In 1984, the company headquarters were finally completely relocated to the “Garden City”. These were very exciting times.
"We took over more and more responsibility. The years after 1970 were marked by growth and expansion. New products were constantly being invented and we started selling them directly. That’s how we came across a very interesting product group, which we were delighted to add to our portfolio: fittings. This is the division that is being constantly carried forward today."
Norbert Bohle, Bohle AG 2023
"In addition, we opened new subsidiaries abroad. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Italy, to name just a few. South Africa and North America followed a bit later."
Ulrich Bohle, Bohle AG 2023

In the early 2000s, you moved over to the Supervisory Board and finally retired completely from business in 2013. How do you look towards the developments of your family business from today ́s point of view?

Norbert Bohle: With our innovative spirit, our demand for high quality, and our dedicated team Bohle is well positioned for the future. In addition, there is our central vision that this company does not only serve its owners but also its employees, customers, suppliers, and partners.
Ulrich Bohle: This involves a huge responsibility. And it feels good to see that even today this responsibility is pursued and lived up to without compromises.

Mr. Ulrich Bohle, Mr. Norbert Bohle, thank you very much for this interview.

Norbert Bohle in an interview

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