1808The beginning – about paper and commercial skills
1808 - This was the year of the meeting, in the town of Erfurt, between Napoleon and the great German writer Goethe, 12 months before his novel Elective Affinities was published. This was the height of the Romantic period in the arts, and the painter Caspar David Friedrich was in his most creative phase. 1808 was also the year in which a resourceful and energetic businessman named Gustav Wilhelm Quirll laid the foundation stone of a 200-year company history.
1849The early industrial paper production
The German city of Osnabrück, and its surrounding area, in the 19th century: The city was already home to two papermakers, along with iron foundries and brickworks. A coal mine also provided a living for more than 800 people. All these enterprises could be described as “early industrial”, as they displayed the characteristics of both factory and workshop. In the paper mills belonging to Mr Quirll, the main processes were still carried out by hand, by a workforce whose activities were largely based on the division of labour. At the same time, however, the large extent to which mechanisation was present also made it more like a modern factory.
1900Rags – highly demanded raw material
The preparation of the rags used as raw material was a very laborious and strenuous procedure. They first had to be sorted. Day in, day out, a group of about a dozen women slit open seams, cut off buttons and removed hooks and eyes. They must have wondered more than once who might have worn these clothes, and how they now found themselves in the Hasemühle paper mill (which took its name from the local river Hase). The rags then had to be shredded and cleaned. Although semi-mechanised rag-shredding was slowly coming into use, the women at the paper mill were to continue doing everything by hand for a few years to come.
1908The further development of the paper mill until 1908
The race to industrialise proved to be unstoppable by the middle of the 19th century. Factory chimneys were sprouting up all over, and steam engines and railways were conquering the world, as people flooded into towns and cities in search of work. Mr Quirll the papermaker was quick to detect these developments. In 1849, he took the important decision to invest in a modern papermaking machine. This step was vital for the continued existence of his enterprise, as machine-powered paper mills were beginning to displace their traditional predecessors all over the country. Economic survival meant betting on progress.
1908Disposal to the brothers Kämmerer
In 1869, Mr Quirll took the decision to sell the Hasemühle paper mill to his cousin Wilhelm Westerkamp. He insisted that Justus Eggemann should be the co-owner. From then on, the works traded under the name “Westerkamp & Eggemann”. Paper production was now streamlined to cover such straightforward items as desk blotters, file folders and writing paper. But the star product soon proved to be blue paper for use in tobacco pouches. However, as neither of the two mill owners was able to produce an heir willing to take over the factory, their era was a relatively short one. In 1908, the factory was acquired by two brothers: Gustav Kämmerer, an engineer; and Rudolf Kämmerer, a businessman.
1910Paper mill Brothers Kämmerer KG
The firm was again renamed, and, from 1st October 1908, it was known as "Westerkamp & Eggemann Nachfolger, Inhaber Brüder Kämmerer" (“Successors to Westerkamp & Eggemann, Kämmerer Bros.”). This was then changed once more, in April 1910, to "Papierfabrik Brüder Kämmerer" (“Kämmerer Bros. Paper Works”), and became a limited partnership company in July of the same year.
1918Felten & Guillaume and AEG become shareholders
The year 1918, which marked the end of the First World War, saw the firms Felten & Guilleaume and AEG acquire shareholdings in Kämmerer Bros., although the brothers remained in charge. From then on, the company was known as “Papierfabrik GmbH, vormals Brüder Kämmerer.”. The takeover allowed a third paper-production machine to come into operation. This resulted in a sharp increase in electricity consumption, however, which led to the decision to supply the company with its own power plant. A reserve turbine, which was added in 1939, was designed to ensure continuous production.
to 1939The Paper Mill GmbH until 1939
The Kämmerer brothers had already decided, upon taking over the paper mill, that its line of production should undergo a radical transformation. They realised that the mill’s existing products were neither forward-looking nor likely to deliver any upturn in fortunes. Their commercial instincts, and careful observation of the market, encouraged them to go for special products. The conditions then current were also favourable, as the German cable industry was looking to domestic suppliers to meet its need for insulating materials. The brothers saw their chance and took the leap. They cultivated contacts with cable manufacturers, and soon entered into close relationships with the companies Felten & Guilleaume Carlswerk and AEG.
1940An own shipping pier has to be built …
Construction work on the spur to the main Ems-Weser Canal had ended in the winter of 1915. This branch canal was soon to prove a vital lifeline for the Kämmerer workforce, the so-called Kämmeraners. During the First World War, the Kämmerer and Schöller paper mills, which were normally competitors, organised shared inland barges for the transport of their coal deliveries. In 1936, works management submitted a planning application for the construction of a barge dock. Negotiations then ensued with the city council of Osnabrück and the waterways authority, and the corresponding approval was eventually issued. Work began in 1940.
1943The Third Reich and the Second World War
These few historical documents about the Kämmerer paper mill, which date from the time of the Third Reich, testify to the then-common war propaganda of the period. In retrospect, it is difficult to decide with any certainty the boundaries between propaganda and what actually happened, although the two probably overlapped. The March 1944 edition of a periodical called “Der Tambour” includes a piece on the “Papierfabrik G.m.b.H. vormals Brüder Kämmerer”, which mentions the presence of female forced labour from the Ukraine. It is, however, certain that the firm enjoyed some luck in those unhappy times, and managed to survive the war with little damage. Production was fully back to normal levels as early as December 1945.
1945. The war was over, and the works had survived with only minor damage. Production returned to normal levels, and a series of changes was carried out. The factory was under the control of the British occupation authorities. These post-war years were a time of rationing, and coal and wood pulp, and even finished paper itself, all required the corresponding issuing and cashing-in of paper coupons. The paper mill now enjoyed a stroke of luck, however, as there was a growing demand for spinning paper for use with agricultural twine, which was desperately needed for bringing in the harvest. Kämmerer then managed to win the corresponding contract.
1958Trials in smallest scale
A trial paper machine from Osnabrück goes around the world. The idea, or rather the vision, for building small-scale trial paper machines actually came from Gustav Kämmerer himself, who, back in the 1930s, had begun to experiment with a miniature machine from England, which was, however, only usable to a very limited extent. Its operating width of just 10 centimetres / 4 inches meant that many operations were simply impossible. Kämmerer’s vision: Why not build a papermaking machine that exactly imitated the workings of its full-sized counterpart? A proper machine, but in miniature. The purpose of such a venture was clear: to be able to experiment with new types of paper and raw materials, but without having to interrupt current production when doing so.
1976Ahlstrom and Kemi OY buy Kämmerer GmbH
The turning point: This was the year in which the company was taken over by the two Finnish groups Ahlstrom and Kemi OY. One of the triggers for this event was the fact that AEG – one of the two majority shareholders of Kämmerer – was not in good financial health. The owners (AEG and Felten & Guilleaume) therefore took a joint decision to sell the works. This move happened to be timed to coincide with the strategic decision of the Finnish Ahlstrom Group to expand its operations in Europe, and in Germany in particular. The former Kämmerer company went on to operate in subsequent years as an autonomous business unit under the overall management of the Finnish parent organisation.
1979Ahlstrom becomes sole owner
It soon became clear that the Finns intended to make important changes. The company’s product portfolio no longer matched demand, and the technology used in the paper mill had become outdated. Ahlstrom instigated a major programme of technological modernisation. Financial recovery proved to be slower, however, with the Osnabrück-based paper mill continuing to report losses well into the 1980s. Nevertheless, and in retrospect, one thing is now clear: the takeover by Ahlstrom secured the continued existence of the firm.
1981Innovation in team work – the wall paper group
Test and retest, experiment with raw materials, amend formulas, discard and start again. The company’s paper engineer, Ulrik Arneberg, repeated these procedures day after day, week after week. He was often to be found of an evening in the small basement test-lab, sometimes with other colleagues, trying to improve, just ever-so slightly, the properties of a small piece of paper. One of these small pieces of paper turned out to be a backing material for wallpaper, destined for large-scale production, and the year 1981 subsequently marked the birth of Kämmerer’s wallpaper division.
1989The power plant – energy for paper
A pilot project in Osnabrück: Ahlstrom took on a pioneering role in the area of emission controls. In 1984, the paper mill became part of a pilot project, which was eventually rolled out with great success throughout Germany and also abroad. The monitoring of emissions continues to rely on a remote data-communications system, which uses the latest computer technology to feed fume-emission readings straight into the IT systems of the local authorities. The project, which came to be dubbed “the glass chimney”, was something of a sensation. In 1989, the plant’s conventional boiler-based configuration was replaced with an innovative fluidised-bed boiler.
1996Water for “Neptune’s trade”
Two hundred years ago, papermakers used unfiltered water taken straight from the river Hase, which they pumped into their tubs and simply drained back into the river after use. Starting in the 1960s, Kämmerer’s engineers increasingly refined the water-filtering process. They designed a two-stage filter system, which removed suspended particles from the water and let them accumulate as sediment. Thanks to steady further development, the use of the latest technology and advanced environmental management, water consumption has dropped by around 20% over the last ten years. All waste-water readings are checked in-house on a daily basis, and unannounced external inspections take place at twelve-month intervals.
2001The name Kämmerer GmbH changes to Ahlstrom Osnabrück GmbH
A corporate structure began to emerge in the 1990s, in which the Osnabrück-based enterprise formed an integral part of the worldwide Ahlstrom Group. It was therefore natural for employees and shareholders alike to expect a gradual and cautious transformation of corporate identity, and the company logo did indeed change from “Kämmerer” to “Ahlstrom Kämmerer” and finally to “Ahlstrom Osnabrück”. Although this change might have proved somewhat sad for the firm’s long-term employees, it was, of course, also a necessary and indispensable part of running a global group of companies.
2008200 years company anniversary
"The past has shown us that, regardless of whether we work under the Quirll, Kämmerer or Ahlstrom flag, we have always been capable of seeking out solutions for our problems and the task in hand. We have managed to withstand shortages of rags and water, times of war and economic downturns. But some things have remained constant, among them our team spirit and our identification with the company and its mission. One thing that becomes ever-more clear is that only by staying together can we remain strong. The quality of our paper production and the smooth operation of all our departments and divisions depend absolutely on the quality of our people. Our employees really do form the bedrock of our success."
by Jürgen Oess
2014A new company with an old name: KÄMMERER GmbH
In 2012, the Ahlstrom Group decided to dispose of its special paper-products division, and found an ideal merger partner in the shape of the Swedish Munksjö Group of Companies. The competition (anti-trust) rules of the European Commission meant that paper-production machines 3 and 4 at the Osnabrück plant could not be included in the sale, so this part of the business was acquired by Perusa, a German financial investor. These two paper-production machines and a team of around 270 employees constituted, from 1st January 2014, a new company with an old name: KÄMMERER GmbH.
2017After the merger again only one KÄMMERER location in Osnabrück
The company Ahlstrom Osnabrück GmbH operated on the same premises. The production range of the PM6 machine includes wallpaper, poster and silicon base paper. Despite their different owners, both companies were mutually linked both in geographic terms and in such service-related areas as maintenance and administration. End of 2016 KÄMMERER has also taken over Ahlstrom's paper machine no. 6. Since 2017 two further affiliated companies will operate under the KÄMMERER umbrella in the future; namely KÄMMERER Spezialpapiere GmbH (with items produced by the PM3 and PM4 machines) and KÄMMERER Paper GmbH (with products from the PM6).