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1919In spite of most adverse conditions in the aftermath of the Great War, Johannes Watzlawczik founds a wholesale business in Breslau.In the early years, shelves at the “Johannes Watzlawczik Drogen- und Farbwaren Agenturen” held only a small variety of shellac mattings, lacquers, as well as all sorts of odds and ends for joinery supplies. At the end of the 1920s, he started developing and manufacturing natural casein and animal glues for the burgeoning furniture industry. In the mid-1930s, the company had 6 employees.
1938After the unexpected death of Johannes Watzlawczik in 1938, the enterprise was led by his sons-in-law Georg Lobers and Heinrich Frank.
1945Refoundation as “Jowat Lobers und Frank KG” in Detmold-. After having fled in the company car to Lippe, a key region in the German furniture industry, the enterprise was re-established in 1945. In those years, the furniture and plywood industry was complaining about a lack of glues, also documented in contemporary reports by the Chamber of Industry of Commerce (IHK). Due to the wide range of applications of its products, Jowat was able to accommodate the diverse requirements in the furniture industry, which facilitate a fast development of business relationships. Four employees from Breslau kept faith with Jowat and continued work in Detmold, which had remained virtually untouched by the war.
1947The turbulent post-war years were overcame with improvisational skills and entrepreneurial vision. The portfolio included typical post-war products, for instance “Flora Sommerstrumpf” (a tincture used as visual substitute for women’s stockings, with the original formulation shown in the photo on the left) or “Jowat Kapselfix” (a product for sealing wine bottles). That early cooperation with wineries facilitated the enterprise’s entry into the market for packaging adhesives.
1951With the development of the first fully synthetic wood glue in West Germany – Jowat Preccoll L.F. 51 –came the final breakthrough into the modern adhesives world. Enthusiastic reports in contemporary professional magazines wrote of a “revolution” in wood bonding technology! In the early 1950s, the enterprise had eight employees and manufactured 2,000 kg adhesives per month.
1955Hiring of an experienced chemist as adhesives expert who was given the task of establishing an efficient adhesives lab. From now on, the development of new products and quality assurance are systematically promoted.
1957In times of economic upswing, the focus was on diversification to prepare the enterprise for the future and safeguard its success: Jowat enters the automotive industry and the upholstery furniture sector with solvent-based adhesives.
1959The Board of Directors takes the decision to strategically develop exports which up to that point had rather been a secondary business. During the winter, the frost-sensitive adhesive had to be transported in heated trucks, which was not a problem with Jowat’s own truck fleet. Now, suitable transport company had to be found for longer distances. Shares in the Swiss Casanin AG were already purchased by Lobers and Frank acting as private persons in 1957; internationalisation started.
1960Within a few years, the dynamic business development had fundamentally changed the image of the enterprise. The Detmold-based company now supplies 19 adhesives groups. First tests with thermoplastic hot melt adhesives are carried out.
1964In 1962, a 16,000 square metre plot located on the outskirts of Detmold (now the Ernst-Hilker-Str.) was purchased because the site in the city had started to burst at all seams. Within a very short period of time, the so-called “Klebstoffwerk” (adhesives plant) was built, providing a clearly structured production facility for solvent-based adhesives and primers. The photo shows the finished building in early 1964.
1966Production of PVAc glues and solvent-based adhesives is expanded further. The “Jowat Versorgungswerk”, a pension fund for an additional workplace pension, is established, and employees were offered the opportunity to use a vacation home at cost price in Oberstaufen, Bavaria, until this later was no longer possible due to tax regulations.
1968First patent application for a hot melt adhesive off the roll: Jowatherm® tape based on the new raw material Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). A 40 µm thin aluminium foil was coated on both sides with a special formulation for edgebanding. The annual production volume including all product groups and adhesive technologies soon climbed to 400 tonnes.
1969At the end of the 60s, leadership of the family-owned enterprise is handed over to the next generation: Wolfgang Depenbrock and Dr Hannes Frank take over the reins of the business. The photo was taken during a company outing to the Hermannsdenkmal in 1969 – on its 50th anniversary the enterprise had 85 employees. The Board of Directors sets up the “Neugeborenenhilfe” (newborn aid initiative) and the “Jowat Unterstützungsverein” (Jowat support association). To this day, the objective has been to provide financial support to employees in need by no fault of their own.
1970Production expansion in Detmold (distribution warehouse, hot melt adhesives, and PVAc glues). The company is systematically focusing on the development of synthetic and very powerful adhesives of superior quality, which to this day provides a basis for the development of the Jowat brand.
1971Then as now, trade fairs have played a major role for Jowat. The enterprise’s own booth at “Ligna” in Hannover marked the start in 1971. What began as an integrated part at the Hannover trade fair, soon developed into the independent “Ligna Plus” in 1975. Since then, Jowat has never missed the biennial trade show. Today, Jowat uses about 40 trade fairs around the world to stay close to the market and to its customers and partners.
1978Entry on the US market: Founding of the Jowat Corporation. Largely initiated by Wolfgang Depenbrock, the plan was to build an efficient sales and advisory structure on the American market. Investments started to pay off quickly and eight years later, 30 employees ensured a stable turnover and the business was in the black. Today, the Jowat Corporation in the USA is an integral part of the triad strategy, with sales subsidiaries in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. The photo shows the main office building in the 1980s.
1979Addition of a new polymerisation unit to the production facilities and expansion of the hot melt adhesives department (HM). The site at the manufacturing location in Detmold is increased to 40,000 square metres. Production facilities for assembly and packaging hot melt adhesives were added, which significantly increased efficiency of filled hot melts production. In the late 1970s, FC Jowat, the bowling club, and the Jowat choir are founded. Different sporting events were now offered, such as badminton, cycling tours, and discounted gym memberships.
1987Jowat starts manufacturing moisture-curing polyurethane hot melt adhesives. Today, Jowatherm-Reaktant® adhesives represent one of the most important groups in the product portfolio. Manufacturing locations were continuously expanded during the 1980s. At that time, 15 trucks and 30 cars supplied more than 3,500 customers in West Germany.
1990Between 1990 and 1996, several subsidiaries were founded in Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Since the 1990s, the triad structure Europe – North America – East Asia has become more apparent in Jowat’s international commitment. The share of exports at Jowat climbed from about 20 % in the early 1960s to over 40 % in the mid-1990s, with 60 export markets.
1992The second German production location is opened in Zeitz. After a fire had destroyed a production hall in Detmold, the entire production of solvents was relocated to Zeitz (now “Elsteraue”). The photo shows the plant in 2001, after the warehouse and production were expanded.
1994By the time of the enterprise’s 75th anniversary, the company had grown to 230 employees. Products are now manufactured on electronically controlled production lines and 100,000 kg of adhesives are manufactured each day. Shelves in the distribution warehouses are lined with over 400 products for the woodworking and furniture industry, automotive industry incl. sub-suppliers, the paper-processing and graphics industry, as well as the textile finishing and construction sectors.
1995On the initiative of Dr Hannes Frank, the Board of Directors called into life an event during the intensive research phase in the late 1980s, which was and still is unrivalled – Jowat Symposium, a meeting point for the wood and furniture industry, recognised across Europe. The Jowat Adhesive Research Award, honouring exceptional dissertations and PhD theses in the field of adhesive technology, was first awarded in 1995. The photo shows the second award ceremony within the framework of the Symposium in 1996.
1996Within three decades, annual production volume grew from 6,000 to over 22,000 tonnes. The construction of a high-bay warehouse with a height of approx. 24 m and 2,400 pallet spaces has since marked the appearance of the manufacturing location in Detmold. In the year 2000, offices in Detmold were relocated from the old location in the city centre into a new administrative building – the “House of Bonding” – built on the same site like the production facilities.
2000Advancing internationalisation: From 2000 to 2007, subsidiaries were founded in France, Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Middle East, and Malaysia. The photo was taken on a business trip to Malaysia in 1999, during which the foundation of a local subsidiary was explored and prepared. Since the start of the new millennium, Jowat has been a firmly established Global Player in the adhesives industry.
2003A fundamental change took place in early 2003: The Jowat Group, a loose association of companies, became Jowat AG (since 2015 Jowat SE – Societas Europaea / European Stock Corporation). The “organisational streamlining of the Jowat enterprise” was aimed at increasing internal transparency and safeguarding the international success of the business. The tried and proven ownership structure was maintained: To this day, the Depenbrock and Frank families hold 50 % of the shares each. The photo shows the new main office building finished in 2001. The only department that remained at the old site in the city centre was the Technical Lab.
2008The new Swiss production and administration building based on a wooden construction is inaugurated; the Competence Centre for PUR prepolymer adhesives is created. In 2009, Jowat Swiss AG was established, finally merging Casanin with Jowat.
2009Between 2009 and 2014, subsidiaries were founded in China, Turkey, Australia, Colombia, and Chile. The “House of Logistics” is built in Detmold with a storage area of 4,400 m² as well as an office and laboratory area of over 1,000 m². In 2009, Jowat experienced its first and so far only drop in turnover since its refoundation in 1945, due to the global economic crisis. Unlike many other companies, Jowat responded counter-cyclically and continued to hire new employees. The long-term potential of the bonding technology as a growth market are still assessed as very favourable.
2015The plant Jowat opened in Malaysia in 2009 was the first manufacturing location in Asia which also included a Research and Development department. A new plant built in near Bandar Enstek in 2015, has significantly increased manufacturing and development capacities. Additional subsidiaries were founded in Vietnam (2017) and Thailand (2018). In 2015, the number of employees of the Jowat Group passed the 1,000 milestone. Photo: New building Malaysia in 2015
2018The new innovation and application centre in Detmold based on a glued laminated timber construction, the “House of Technology”, is a milestone for Jowat. Relocation from the old site in the city centre was finalised when the new building was completed in 2018. On an area of 2,500 m², the new innovation and application centre serves as an information and meeting point for all bonding-related aspects, allowing customers and partners to experience service made by Jowat. The building also includes technical areas and laboratories that are home to application technology and applied research.
2019Today, one hundred years after its foundation in the Silesian metropole Breslau (Wroclaw), Jowat SE has over 22 subsidiaries and a global network of distributors. Jowat adhesives facilitate the reliable bonding of materials in over 80 countries. Despite the rapid development, Jowat has not forgotten its roots as a medium-sized, family-owned enterprise. Reliability, consistency, and the courage to innovate remain cornerstones of the corporate culture. And there is every reason to be confident. In the decades to come, Jowat will continue to set standards as a creative and innovative adhesives supplier, and optimise the bonding processes of its customers around the world.