The history of the Franz Henke GmbH & Co. KG dates back to the 1920s. In 1924 Franz Henke decided to enter the cork industry and established his business on 1st April on the parental farm in Südlohne. After only 3 months, Henke delivered the first products, which were manufactured from raw materials from Portugal. While in the beginning the cork wood was imported via middlemen in Bremen, Henke later purchased his materials right at their origin.
The first year’s turnover of 3125 RM was still rather moderate but the young businessman managed to quintuple the amount within only 4 years. At that time, the product range covered basically all kinds of corks, including wine works or corks for medical purposes.
Due to the steady expansion of the production volume, Henke was forced to relocate his business to a bigger site, which was constructed near the train station in Lohne and inaugurated in 1928. It was only 8 years later that the new production plant had to be extended again: a front building was added.
In the following, the expansionist endeavours could hardly be realised: The Second World War entailed the shortage of raw materials, spare parts for the machines and of labour. Although Henke still produced about 1.5 million corks in 1941, he had to inform his customers in the same year that deliveries were no longer possible.
After the war, from about 1945 onwards, the interrupted expansion could be revived and so, the number of employees increased from three immediately after the war to eight in 1949.
Two years later, Walter Henke entered the company, which marked the transition to the second generation. According to his own statement, he had no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps since he had been integrated into the parental cork production from early childhood on.
In the following, Henke tried to break new grounds and made first attempts in the emerging plastics industry but due to a lack of skilled workers and necessary competencies the plan had to be put off again. About 5 years later, in 1960, a second attempt was made and that one turned out to be successful. With the two injection moulding machines that were bought in that year Henke was able to start the production of their own plastic products. The required raw materials polystyrene and polyethylene were purchased from BASF.
Another six years later, one more step towards the plastics industry was taken by establishing an own mould shop. Like this, the company was able to repair the moulds themselves and to respond more effectively to customer requests. Furthermore, the machine pool was extended, which allowed for higher productions volumes. During that time, the product range comprised mainly packaging, such as lids for coffee tins, screw caps, dishes and champagne cork, but also technical parts.
In 1976, the cork production was finally given up and the focus was completely shifted to plastics processing. The success proved the company right and so the production plant had to be extended in 1970, 1973 and 1977. This physical expansion was complemented by the introduction of a new product line, namely the “topfit” section for gardening products.
Jürgen Henke started in the 90ties in the third generation. His entry was accompanied by improvements of products and processes. Franz Henke GmbH & Co. KG is since 1996 a company certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001. Since 1998 the company is as well prepared to offer its customers the innovative IML- (In-Mould-Labeling ) process.
A so-called agenda 2012 was introduced together with the entry of Siegfried Trimpe as an investor. This agenda was mainly driven by new structures which were implemented in the technical, administrative and as well in the quality area. New moulding machines were bought. The product portfolio in the packaging department was diversified. The certification according to GFSI standard (Hygiene standard BRC or FSSC ) could be passed successfully. Additionally the energy management system DIN EN ISO 50001 was introduced. All these measurements contributed to process optimization and thus as well to an increase of the effectivity.
Company Franz Henke GmbH & Co. KG celebrated its 90th birthday. The company is looking back to a history full of innovations. The knowledge collected over years and thus the available competence allows her till today to assist its customers individually. Due to the knowledge and competences the company is as well able to be a competent partner for the future.
The changes / improvements introduced based on the agenda 2012 were only the start. Nowadays the automatization has been implemented in the company. Packaging robots have been installed directly at the production lines. The next step to stack the articles ( lids / caps ) automatically and let them pack by a robot arm directly in a carton is also already in place. Each carton in the production is now scanned, all labels are printed by scanner systems. The pallets with the cartons are stretched automatically with foil. The next step due to this system is the booking-in of the quantity into the stock.
Nowadays approx. 90 employees are producing 1,2 billions of plastic articles. The business unit “Henke Verpackungen” comprises caps and total packagings for the Food- and Non-Food market. The business unit “topfit” covers many products for the gardening sector.
The business unit “Lonacap” with its technical articles and protection elements has been transferred in 2016 to company “Burwinkel Kunststoffwerk GmbH”.