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  • 1989 1990

    1926 1927 1928

    1942 1943

    1944 1945 1946

    The Company Newsletter of August Rüggeberg GmbH & Co. Marienheide Vol. 17, No. 31 September 1997

    1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 19111912 1913 1914 1915

    1916 1917 1918

    1919 1920

    1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 19631964 1965

    1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982

    1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997

    1936 1937

    100 YEA RS OF A




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    Before 1897 Of poets, file cutters and “rough ridges” Files were known many centuries be- fore our era. The Greek poet Aesop, writing in the 6th century B.C., already composed a fable about “the serpent and the file”. In Roman history, too, files are frequently mentioned, particularly as instruments for working wood and marble, precious stones and iron. In a letter by Theodoric the Great, dating back to the fifth century A.D., he expresses his thanks for a shipment of swords “so evenly sharp that you’d think they were not finished with the file but cast from a glowing furnace.” From Leonardo da Vinci, the great painter, sculptor and inventor, we have a sketch of a filemaking machine (approx. 1500) equipped with several pointed knife-shaped hammers. Business at Rüggeberg commenced on a modest scale, yet with encour- aging success. In the small town of Rüggeberg (denoting “rough mountain ridge”) in the Ennepetal-Altenvörde area, Johan Caspar Rüggeberg began to produce the first files and rasps towards the end of the 18th century.

    According to oral tradition, his shop in- itially performed only the actual tool forging operations. Steel was melted in a puddling furnace, shaped into rods under water-powered stretching ham- mers, then forged into blanks which were annealed in a furnace fired with beechwood logs. The decarburized layer was filed off before the finished blank was transferred to the cutting shop for the teeth cutting process.

    The small hammer forge is eventually taken over by the son, Johan Frie- drich, who contracts local farmers to cut files at home from blanks supplied by the company. Also dating from this period is the company’s logo, a horse jumping through the hoop.

    Thalers, stubers and pfennigs were the currency of the day. In the subse- quent currency reform, one thaler is exchanged for 3 marks. The price of a medium file, 300 mm in length, would thus have amounted to about 65 pfennigs.

    1897 - 1907 Towards Marienheide The industrialization changes the country’s social and economic fabric. The German economy is booming. Many file cutters from the Ennepetal valley have left for the blossoming in- dustrial cities in the Ruhr basin.

    Ancestral home: the Westphalian town of Rüggeberg

    Johan Friedrich Rüggeberg produces the first files at Voerde

    August Rüggeberg gives the company his name

    The first company photo of 1897.

    Alfred, Emil and Robert Rüggeberg move the company to Marienheide

    In search of skilled labour and more favourable transport conditions, August Rüggeberg and his sons, Robert, Emil and Alfred, decide to move the company to Marienheide, some 40 kilometres away. The new location is noted for its skilled

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    manpower, organized mainly in the form of an extensive cottage industry. Rolling mills supplying the necessary steel rods are situated virtually next door. The first factory building, although still a simple brick structure, reflects the company’s progress from a manufac- turing workshop to a modest industrial enterprise. The product range, ori- ginally consisting mainly of rough files for use by blacksmith’s shops, is ex- tended to a line of machinist’s files and single-cut files employed mainly for sharpening saws. Sales - already involving travel to Holland, Belgium and Denmark - are originally handled by the three brothers themselves, be- fore a number of travelling salesmen and field representatives are hired.

    In 1903, a patent is obtained for a “half-round file with spiral paths ar- ranged in serpentine lines on a round back”

    1917 - 1927 Manpower and material get scarce A series of bad harvests result in the “winter of famine” of 1917. By resort- ing to turnips as the main food source, the country barely escapes mass starvation. All food is strictly rationed. Siberian temperatures, falling as low as -180 in the Rhineland, cripple the economy. Coal supplies are disrupted as the rivers are frozen solid. The news from Russia breeds civic unrest throughout the German empire. Peace proposals from various govern- ments indicate a growing war weari- ness in Europe. Nevertheless, two more years must pass before Germany signs the Versailles peace treaty imposed by the allied powers. At Rüggeberg, the management’s prime concern is to keep up production. Women take the place of conscripted production workers on the assembly lines.Although only the file factory is operating, sourcing sufficient raw ma- terials has become a serious problem. Through a determined effort, the shortage can eventually be overcome.

    Producing files is still a laborious man- ual process. Bold entrepreneurs de- pend on the support of strong crafts- men, such as blacksmiths and grinders. These supply the blanks which are subsequently finished by file cutters using a hammer and chisel. To achieve teeth of even depth, the hammer must always fall on the chisel from the same height.

    Packing room staff on the first loading dock

    The company’s chauffeur, Karl Bellingrath, poses proudly with new ADLER car

    A highly skilled file cutter can produce up to four files an hour, depending on the type and size of the cut

    A skilled workforce assembled approx. 1900

    1907 - 1917 Mobility and growth mark the course of progress In 1907, a long-distance automobile race captures the world’s attention. The route extends from Peking to Paris. After a two months’ ordeal over bad roads, rutted dirt tracks and precipitous mountain passes, F. Scipione Borghese in his four-cylinder Itala car is the first to pass the finish line. Four years later, in 1911, Rüggeberg’s acquisition of its first company car causes a commotion of almost identical proportions in and around Marienheide. Business progress is also reflected the company’s building and modernizing activities. Addition of the first loading dock serving the company’s packing room makes shipping operations more efficient as growing volumes of PFERD brand files are sent out to the customer.

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    1927 - 1937 A new management generation In May 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh completes his non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Adolf Hitler holds his first speech in Berlin. The crisis of the Weimar Republic and its political parties is coming to a head. Election results reflect the disaffection of large parts of the population. The Great Depression and the moderate parties’ inability to provide solutions pave the way for political extremism, giving rise to the most painful chapter in German history.

    A far-sighted strategy earns Rüggeberg’s breakthrough In these days of economic and social turmoil, Rüggeberg nevertheless suc- ceeds in pioneering a revolutionary breakthrough in metalworking techno- logy. The linear motion of the traditional file is converted into rotary action. The new concept forms the basis for the development of the handheld rotary milling cutter, a tool outperforming the cut file due to its optimized tooth geometry and angle of twist.

    With far-sightedness, the company’s owners had identified the trend towards an increasing use of power tools that would put an end to the dominance of manual files.

    In 1928, Alfred Rüggeberg is appointed Head of Distribution by his father

    Hans Rüggeberg follows in his fathers footsteps in 1933 by taking over the management of Company Operations

    Increased building activities emphasize the company’s growing status

    The first trade fair brochures have a powerful appeal, even in the early years

    Drive problems are solved by means of an ingenious solution, the so-called flexible shaft machine. This new technology represents a milestone that will lead to the replacement and human- ization of hard and labour-consuming manual work. Determined to serve the needs of the emerging precision machining market, Rüggeberg launches the production of mounted grinding points at about the same time. In a brochure produced for the 1936 Leipzig spring fair, a product range about to evolve into a compre- hensive modular system of surface ma- chining tools is already impressively presented.

    In 1942 Rüggeberg is granted the first patent for its rotary milling cutter

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    PFERD - a worldwide presence on trade fairs and exhibitions A desire to keep up the dialogue with customers, retailers and indus- try specialists has always charac- terized Rüggeberg’s approach. Our tradition of exhibiting products on trade fairs goes back to the start of the century. The theme of the company’s pre- sence on the 1936 Leipzig spring fair is the “Exemplary Use of Rotary Tools in Machining Materials of Inter- est”. At the first post-war industrial fair at Hannover in 1947, Rüggeberg is likewise in attendance. Although the booth floor still consists of peat mould, we are determined to meet the public’s growing demand for in- formation about new products and

    solutions, prices, and delivery con- ditions. Today, the Cologne Hardware Fair has become the cornerstone of Rüggeberg’s trade fair activities. Our increasingly sophisticated booths have become the venue of ever new product presentations and live demonstrations