Story No. 2
Fasteners for the fastest passenger ship of the late 1920s
After its military defeat in World War I and the resulting fall of the German Empire, Germany was up against the wall economically in the early 1920s. To be able to meet the reparation demands, the German government put more and more money into circulation – even if there was no material equivalent in the country. The result: hyperinflation in the fateful year of 1923. In December 1923, 1 US dollar was worth a whole 4.21 trillion marks. Incredibly high prices were the result. An egg, for example, cost a whopping 320 billion marks in Berlin at that time. Only by introducing a new currency, the Rentenmark, could the extreme decline in the value of money finally be slowed down.
What followed these crises was a new German optimism from 1924 onwards. Germany increasingly returned to its inventive spirit and a new economic rise began. Crucial to this rise were the German ships that now sailed the seven seas again. In August 1928, a fast steamer with state-of-the-art features and room for over 2,200 passengers was launched: the Bremen, a prestige project of the German shipyards. For our second company generation led by Josef Böllhoff, this ship was “the major order”. The steamer, which was over 280 metres long, was entirely held together by fasteners from Böllhoff. On her maiden voyage across the Atlantic, the Bremen even won the Blue Ribbon in 1929, making her the fastest passenger ship in the world for some time.
In the late 1920s, the shipping industry was Böllhoff’s most important customer segment – with a share of sales of around 80 to 90 percent. Our company enjoyed a high level of trust from the shipyards at that time, as we were not only able to reliably deliver quality and quantity, but also to meet the delivery deadlines which are very important in shipbuilding. Josef Böllhoff always summed up the great importance of timely delivery with his saying “deadline is deadline”. The essence of this statement: A ship must always be launched on time. Consequently, for a trading company like Böllhoff, the delivery date to the customer was and is everything and must be met at all times. As a constant reminder of that and as additional motivation for his employees, Josef Böllhoff had the saying “deadline is deadline” (Termin ist Termin in German) captured in a painting. This painting still hangs in the entrance to the logistics department at the Böllhoff headquarters in Bielefeld today.
145 years of Böllhoff – that means countless successful connections. Our fasteners were used, for example, in the fastest Atlantic steamer of the 1920s. In the lunar module that brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the dusty surface of the moon in 1969. And over the decades, of course, also in some iconic cars.
Many successful connections, both large and small, have enabled us to constantly develop as a company. In this video we would like to show you some of the most important milestones of our 145-year company history.