Fickenscher family-owned business and GEALAN Formteile celebrate 100 years.
Oberkotzau, 06 December 2021, Claudia Gronwald, PR
Always true to the motto: Be successful, stay compassionate!
With a good sense for developments and the markets of the future, the Fickenscher family-owned business looks back on its hundredth anniversary.
In 1921 Adam Fickenscher founded Bayrische Fellverwertung in Schlegel near Hof, later known throughout the region as “Fickenscher Pelze”. In 1956 his sons Theo and Walter created a new branch of the company – plastics processing – whose products have been sold under the GEALAN brand name ever since. In 1985 a third area of business was added. GEALAN Formteile, a worldwide specialist for technical plastic parts and components, which has been led by third-generation business administration graduate Thomas Fickenscher since 1989.
The company has remained true to its roots for the past 100 years.
A look back at 100 years of success
It all began with a hide and fur wholesale business; fur finishing and fabrication was added later. The extremely pioneering idea and forward-looking decision to make use of existing contacts in the chemical industry led to the creation of the plastics processing division.
Based on the existing expertise surrounding products made on the first extruder machines such as water hoses, clothes lines, handrails, etc., Theo and Walter Fickenscher added rigid PVC profiles (window roller blind slats, etc.) to their production range. This eventually developed into the first window system and the company became one of the leading window profile suppliers in Europe. The first milestone for plastics was set under the brand name GEALAN. Others followed with the establishment of a new business unit, GEALAN Formteile GmbH and its 15 employees, in 1985.
The unit produced technical injection moulded parts using innovative processes such as two-component injection moulding technology, PUR sealing foam technology and vibration welding. This was followed by major investments in company expansion such as the new administration building and the acquisition of additional logistics and production areas in Oberkotzau and Hof.
The launch of CAD activities resulted in GEALAN becoming a development partner for well-known key customers in the automotive and non-automotive sector.
After the turn of the millennium, GEALAN received numerous awards including the “Vaillant Excellence Supplier” customer rating, “Bavaria’s Best 50”, the “Mittelstandslöwe Award”, the “E.ON Environmental Award”, participation in the “2009 Architect Tours” and even secured a spot in “Europe’s 500”.
In 2006 GEALAN Czech s.r.o. was founded in Aš, Czech Republic. The company has 135 employees who manually and semi-automatically assemble and finish plastic parts.
At the same time, the development division GEALAN CAXsolutions relocated to the Automobiltechnikum Bayern in Hof/Haidt. Today 30 people work here.
In 2008, Thomas Fickenscher began expansion work again at the headquarters in Oberkotzau. A company parking lot with 200 spaces and a 3,000 square metre air-conditioned production hall including the in-house “Theo’s Bistro” were built incorporating friendly, state-of-the-art architecture.
The management was already very focused on sustainability at this time and received the “E.ON Environmental Award” for an exemplary heat recovery project. Conservation of resources, rational and eco-friendly use of energy, reduction of CO₂ emissions, reduction of fresh water consumption and recycling of plastics have been the company’s clearly stated objectives ever since.
The company’s success and new orders in particular for BMW led to an increase in sales by 30 percent and made it necessary to purchase another plant in the “am Saaleschlösschen” industrial area of Oberkotzau in 2011. Three years later, GEALAN HungaryPlast Kft. began operations in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, paving the way to the Eastern European market. This secured the supply to strategically important customers in Hungary and neighbouring countries.
Today 160 employees produce GEALAN’s entire production range here.
The rapidly growing project business and the many new employees associated with it made further expansion necessary. The Fickenscher family made additional investments and converted an old building formerly owned by the company Jackstädt into a project space with 90 modern and ergonomic workstations.
New projects also led to growth at Hungarian subsidiary GEALAN HungaryPlast – and expansion became necessary faster than expected.
Finally, two years ago, another company building was leased in Oberkotzau. GEALAN opened its own logistics centre there on Schaumberg Street.
Now Thomas Fickenscher and Gerhard Laubmann, both Managing Partners, successfully lead the GEALAN Formteile Group together – as they have for the past 32 years. The continuation of the family-run business has also been secured: Thomas Fickenscher’s son – and thus the great-grandson of the founder – Timo Fickenscher is a member of the fourth generation and will join the company in spring 2022.
After successfully completing his master’s degree in business administration and gaining initial professional experience in the controlling department of a large textile company, he will start in GEALAN’s commercial department.
Currently over 800 people work in the group of companies. At six locations in three countries they develop, manufacture and finish sophisticated technical injection moulded parts and assemblies that are used worldwide in the heating and hot water sector and in the automotive industry’s premium segment.
For example, flow meters for customers like Vaillant, Viessmann and Bosch are an essential product for hot water treatment in heating systems. GEALAN’s expertise makes it possible not only to produce sophisticated and durable components, but also to provide the complete development for such products.
Examples in the automotive sector include the complete glove box for all 1-Series BMWs, safety-relevant crash absorbers in new Mercedes models and door panels in the new Rolls Royce Cullinan and two other models.
For 2021 the family-owned business expects sales to reach €90 million, an increase of approximately 15% compared to 2020.
100 years of Fickenscher, three generations – this is what secured the success of the GEALAN Formteile Group. During their period of activity they laid foundations with foresight. The sustained growth and attractive jobs would not have been possible without these efforts.
Over the past 100 years the group of companies has learned how important it is to be a family-run company that responds quickly and flexibly to new market challenges and customer requirements, while always keeping an eye on the well-being of its employees.
The family-owned company may have different locations in Europe, but the family has never lost sight of its Oberkotzau roots and its philosophy:
100 years – Be successful! Stay compassionate – and always foster a tradition of innovation.