In motion for the last 75 years
December 2021

In motion for the last 75 years

By Jan Horst
It is one of the greatest “Made in Germany” success stories: The global automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler is celebrating its 75th anniversary today. Dr. Wilhelm Schaeffler and his brother Dr.-Ing. E.h. Georg Schaeffler laid the foundation for today’s company when they founded Industrie GmbH in Herzogenaurach in 1946.

The Industrie GmbH marked the starting point of a company that today employs more than 83,900 employees at around 200 locations in more than 50 countries. Three originally independent companies – INA, LuK and, FAG – grew together to form a global technology leader with the DNA of a family business. Accordingly, Schaeffler is celebrating 75 years of progress, technological innovation, and economic success with a virtual anniversary ceremony for all its employees as well as selected industry and government guests

In motion for the last 75 years
Wilhelm and Georg Schaeffler (3rd and 4th from left respectively) laid the foundation stone for today’s Schaeffler Group as a family business in 1946. This photo shows the two brothers at a topping-out ceremony in Herzogenaurach.© Schaeffler

From 1950 onwards, the company’s rapid rise was made possible by the cage-guided needle roller bearing, a brilliant invention by Dr.-Ing. E.h. Georg Schaeffler, which revolutionized motion and mobility in the automotive and industrial sectors.

This invention laid the foundation for the company’s continuing global success. In 1965, the Schaeffler brothers decided to invest in LuK Lamellen und Kupplungsbau GmbH in Bühl (Baden), where the Automotive Technologies division is now based. The company became a technological leader with innovative products such as the diaphragm spring clutch, dual-mass flywheel as well as a variety of engine components. Since 1999, LuK has been a fully owned entity of Schaeffler.

In 2001, Schaeffler took over FAG Kugelfischer Georg Schäfer AG in Schweinfurt, making Schaeffler the world's second-largest manufacturer of rolling bearings. The successful IPO of Schaeffler AG followed in 2015. Today, the three product brands INA, LuK, and FAG are united under the Schaeffler corporate brand.

  • Very few people are aware today that in the early days of the Federal Republic o ...
    Very few people are aware today that in the early days of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Schaeffler brothers were among the country’s largest producers of textiles and carpets. Along with the metal division, which even then included separate automotive and industrial units, carpets remained the second mainstay of the business through to the end of the 1980s. © Schaeffler
  • In 1950, Dr.-Ing. E.h. Georg Schaeffler applied for a patent for his idea: In th ...
    In 1950, Dr.-Ing. E.h. Georg Schaeffler applied for a patent for his idea: In the needle roller and cage assembly, the rolling elements are guided with parallel axes. In the course of 1950, the step from prototype to rolling bearing ready for series production was successfully taken. Needle roller bearings are used in the automotive sector, but also in general mechanical engineering and gearbox construction. In electric mobility, needle roller bearings are indispensable for the function of numerous electrified transmissions. © Schaeffler
  • Schaeffler has a long tradition of training apprentices. The first two apprentic ...
    Schaeffler has a long tradition of training apprentices. The first two apprentices began their training in 1948 with Industrie GmbH. Just over ten years later, in 1959, a training workshop accommodating a total of 100 young apprentices went into operation. The training program covered about ten different occupations. All apprenticeship programs began with an introduction to metalworking. Schaeffler now has a total of about 3,000 apprentices at around 50 different locations in 16 countries. © Schaeffler

“Schaeffler’s pioneering spirit has always been crucial to the success of the company. Even throughout its challenging phases, the company has demonstrated a high degree of resilience and a constant willingness to view profound change as an opportunity. As shareholders, we are particularly aware that this success, spanning several decades, is primarily driven by our committed employees around the globe, as well as our customers and suppliers,” explains Georg F. W. Schaeffler, Family Shareholder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Schaeffler AG.

To mark the company’s anniversary, the Schaeffler family arranged for their history, which is inextricably linked to the company's history, to be systematically researched. To that end, the family successfully engaged the services of renowned historian Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöllgen. As part of the anniversary celebrations, Schaeffler is presenting the results of the research, which also covers the period prior to the company's founding in 1946, on a newly designed website that showcases not only the history, but also the people and the technological innovations they represent:

The comprehensive description and analysis entitled “Schaeffler. A biography of a family and their company” by Prof. Dr. Schöllgen will be released by the publishing house Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt in early December. “Schaeffler has always demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for innovation and a high level of social responsibility,” says Prof. Dr. Schöllgen. “The curiosity and future-oriented focus that drove the two founders still remain the key strengths of this traditional family company today.”

With its Roadmap 2025, the Schaeffler Group has clearly positioned itself strategically with a view to the future. It consistently focuses the company, with its three divisions, on transformation in ten customer sectors in order to remain the preferred technology partner for its customers in the future. Sustainability and digitalization are at the center, supported by five focus areas around topics such as CO2-efficient drives and renewable energies.

"As long as there is motion, there will be Schaeffler. At Schaeffler, innovation, quality, an understanding of systems, and manufacturing excellence combine to form a common and strength. With this strength and the DNA of the family-owned company, we are optimally equipped for the future," says Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler AG.

Establishment of the Schaeffler Foundation

To mark Schaeffler’s 75th anniversary, Schaeffler AG and IHO Holding are establishing the Schaeffler Foundation in an effort to emphasize the social responsibility of the Schaeffler Group and its family shareholders. The Schaeffler Foundation will receive an initial foundation capital of 3 million euros, which will be established in equal parts by Schaeffler AG and IHO Holding. This capital will be increased each year through additional donations, in combination with the simultaneous incorporation of existing activities, such as the Schaeffler FAG Foundation. The Foundation will be active worldwide and concentrate primarily on three focus areas: 1) Climate and Environmental Protection, 2) Research and Science, and 3) Education, Qualification and Equal Opportunity.