07.01.2016

75 Years of MANN+HUMMEL

From a small filter plant to a global market leader in filtration: MANN+HUMMEL will be celebrating its long history of success in 2016


In Ludwigsburg's Hindenburgstraße, a converted textile factory became the first production facility of Filterwerk Mann + Hummel.

From a small filter plant to a global market leader in filtration: MANN+HUMMEL will be celebrating its long history of success in 2016 

Ludwigsburg-based automotive supplier MANN+HUMMEL will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2016. Founded under difficult conditions during the Second World War, the family-led company has grown to become the world's biggest manufacturer of oil, air, and gasoline filters, employing around 16,000 people at 60 locations on five continents. 

When Adolf Mann and Dr. Erich Hummel founded Filterwerk Mann+Hummel GmbH in 1941, they had already established successful careers. One a math teacher, the other a lawyer, they both joined Stuttgart-based clothing manufacturer Bleyle in the 1920s. In 1938 they took over the management of the family-led company after the owners were arrested.  

After the start of the Second World War, the textile plant, which was classed as non-essential to the war effort, had few orders and much of the workforce was sent to the front or to armaments factories. In this difficult situation, Stuttgart-based piston manufacturer Mahle outsourced the production of engine filters to the Bleyle textile plant in a contract manufacturing operation. 

At the beginning of 1941, Mahle then transferred its entire filter production to the former textile manufacturers under a license agreement. Filterwerk Mann + Hummel GmbH was founded in January 1941 specifically for this purpose. Its location was a former Bleyle plant in Hindenburgstraße, Ludwigsburg. In June 1942, Adolf Mann and Dr. Erich Hummel acquired the entire filter production business from Mahle for 1.2 million reichsmarks.

The intensive research and development activity that began immediately after the acquisition signaled the ambitions of the founders. Showing remarkable vision, Adolf Mann wrote in the company bulletin "Der Herold" in 1942 that the filter as a product had a future and belonged to an area "where there would be no shortage of activity, whether in times of war or of peace."

Surviving the post-war years through improvisation

While this assessment was fundamentally correct, after the end of the Second World War the demand for filters for tanks and military vehicles vanished. The filter business collapsed, and within a year Filterwerk Mann + Hummel lost half of its workforce. There was, however, demand for household goods and the company began producing items such as pots, skillets, strainers, and scourers. The company's creativity even extended to the manufacture of a handcart dubbed the "Rutscherle".

Technically more challenging were the sanitary fittings that the company produced between 1945 and 1954 under the "MANN-ARMATUREN" brand name. However, the results were extremely successful and sales even matched those from filter production for a time. In the filter business, new sales markets were found in liquid filters for industrial applications and in conveyor systems in industrial mills.

The core vehicle filter business received two significant boosts after 1948 with the currency reform and the launch of the VW Beetle, for which the company was involved in the high volume production of felt cone filters. 

Shaping the future during the economic miracle

Four key issues paved the way for the future development of the fledgling company during the 1950s. The introduction of assembly line production in 1952 marked a shift towards industrial series production. Innovations such as the use of oil-soaked filter papers and the development of a wet air cleaner with coconut fibers transformed the company into a development partner and OEM for the automotive industry.

The strategy of customer proximity, which still applies today, was also developed at this time. An increase in export activity led to the establishment of a number of international sales companies in quick succession. By the end of 1956, Mann + Hummel had eleven European offices and eight international licensees. Three of these would go on to become subsidiaries – Naumann Gepp in Brazil in 1964, Taca in Spain in 1965, and TIDEM S.L.R. in Argentina in 1971. These acquisitions represented the first steps toward the Ludwigsburg-based filter plant becoming a global enterprise.

Social policy milestones

In parallel with ongoing internationalization, the company founders introduced a comprehensive range of social measures, which are still regarded as pioneering to this day. From 1952, the corporate health insurance company provided workers with affordable, customized insurance benefits. For decades, more than 90 percent of Mann + Hummel workforce was insured here. 

Another major milestone was the introduction of profit sharing in 1953, which gave every employee an entitlement to a share of the annual

company earnings. The housing development program introduced in 1949 helped employees to achieve low-cost home ownership with assistance from the company. This scheme was a perfect example of the sociopolitical ideas expressed by Adolf Mann in writings such as "Education for ownership" being put into practice. Last but not least, there was the pension fund, which was set up in the 1940s. The fund was a subject very close to the heart of Dr. Erich Hummel, and marked the first step toward establishing a company pension scheme. 

Continued economic growth and increasing demand for replaceable filters for the aftermarket necessitated the further expansion of production capacities in the early 1950s. Marklkofen, in the Vils Valley in Lower Bavaria, was chosen as the location for a new plant. Filter elements were already being assembled at Schloss Warth, a property purchased by Adolf Mann. After 1962, a former pasta factory in Marklkofen was gradually transformed into the world's largest filter plant. Today, the plant employs more than 3,000 people and produces over 166 million filters and filter elements annually.

In filter technology, engine consumption and performance optimization become key issues along with the prevention of pollutant emissions. At the same time, new plastics replaced sheet metal as a material in air filtration, which paved the way for greater freedom in housing design and combinations with systems for regulating the intake air temperature. 

The company was also achieving success beyond the automotive industry, with innovations such as hydrocyclones for liquid filter systems as well as hydraulic filters.

In 1969, total sales for all divisions broke the 100 million mark barrier for the first time.

The journey to becoming a global systems provider

1971 marked a turning point when company co-founder Adolf Mann died unexpectedly after suffering a heart attack. Despite this setback, the company achieved the seemingly impossible during the 1973 to 1975 recession, which was triggered by the oil crisis. Right in the middle of the crisis, the company managed to increase exports, step up aftermarket activity, and further increase sales. Construction projects were undertaken in Ludwigsburg and Marklkofen as well as at the Filap subsidiary in Speyer in order to create space for additional production capacities.

This was also necessary due to the increased dominance of plastics. Polyurethane allowed greater freedom in housing shape design and consequently the development of system solutions. These solutions now covered the entire passage of air from the intake into the engine and were able to meet increased requirements with regard to temperature and exhaust gas recirculation regulation. 

The death of Dr. Erich Hummel in 1984 brought the era of the eponymous company founders to a close. The company stocks remained in the control of the founder families, who were represented at the general meetings. This solution proved to be effective and is still in operation to this day.

The introduction of lost core technology in the 1980s represented another major innovation for MANN+HUMMEL. It allowed the seamless manufacture of complex intake manifolds, which offered advantages such as low weight, flow-optimized design, and lower noise emissions. The first plastic intake manifolds went into series production in 1989. Development of oil filter housings made from plastic also began at this time. Lost core technology opened up a whole new world of complex modular solutions in engine peripherals, and finally established MANN+HUMMEL as a reliable OEM partner to the automotive industry. The development of particulate filters and the new cabin filters business area were also contributing factors to this success. 

By 1989, the company had more than 8,000 employees and sales broke through the one billion deutschmark barrier for the first time. A number of organizational changes were introduced to deal with the continued growth. Filterwerk Mann + Hummel GmbH became part of the MANN+HUMMEL Group, and this change was communicated to the outside world with its introduction as a logotype in 1996.

Innovative strength and internationalization

Environmental protection became a key issue in the 1990s. This affected production, with increased use of contaminant-free impregnating agents and environmentally friendly synthetic resins as well as the introduction of a certified environmental management system in 1998. Products were now being made from recyclable materials with a longer service life. In the late 1990s, MANN+HUMMEL broke new ground with the Multigrade filter media for oil and fuel filters and Micrograde for air filters, as well as with the development of the PreLine and VarioLine fuel filter systems.

Other innovations during this period included the integration of the air filter in the cylinder head cover as well as the development of the thermo-optimized topsys intake system and an active intake manifold with motor drive. 

The MANN+HUMMEL Group pressed ahead with establishing itself in the global market during these years. The process began with the establishment of subsidiaries in Mexico, the Czech Republic, and Singapore, followed by companies in the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. MANN+HUMMEL began to gain a foothold in the important US market in 1994 with the establishment and acquisition of multiple subsidiaries. By 1999, the MANN+HUMMEL Group had nine locations in Germany and 19 worldwide, with combined sales of 1.63 billion deutschmarks.

The internationalization strategy was continued after the turn of the millennium, with measures such as the establishment of production sites in China and a sales company in Australia. Further production and sales subsidiaries in Belgium, Russia, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Thailand followed. The objectives of internationalization were not only lower production and logistics costs, but also proximity to automobile-producing customers, which was so important for product development.

Like all companies in the automotive sector, MANN+HUMMEL was badly affected by the financial and economic crisis that began in 2008. However, quick, consistent, and strategically well-considered action helped the company to minimize the effects of the crisis. The decision to introduce new and efficient management and production methods before the crisis in order to combat the effects of global price and competitive pressure now began to pay off.

A Code of Conduct and Social Charter have been in place across the entire Group since 2009 and are binding for all employees. A long-term corporate strategy was also developed on the basis of the Leadership in Filtration vision. Its core elements are leadership in quality and innovation as well as worldwide customer-oriented service and organic growth through the acquisition of filter companies.

Another important step toward this objective was taken in 2013 with the takeover of the Bosch stake in the Purolator joint venture in the United States, which had been operated jointly since 2006. The acquisition of this well-established filter manufacturer strengthened the presence of MANN+HUMMEL in the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). In industrial filtration, the acquisition of Swedish-based Vokes Air, which specializes in filtration solutions for indoor and process air, in 2014 gave the company access to a global growth market. The development of ultrafiltration membranes and the acquisition of MICRODYN-NADIR GmbH in 2015 also helped to set the course for the promising area of water filtration.  

As the anniversary year of 2016 draws closer, MANN+HUMMEL Group is ready to face the challenges of the future. A new technology center at the company headquarters in Ludwigsburg will provide the foundations for further growth through innovation. Despite the many changes over the last 75 years, the critical success factors remain the same and will continue to shape MANN+HUMMEL in the future. These include the humanist values of the company founders as well as the continuity of the family-led company, whose owners demonstrated outstanding discipline and personal commitment in discharging their responsibilities.

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Press photo:  
In Ludwigsburg's Hindenburgstraße, a converted textile factory became the first production facility of Filterwerk Mann + Hummel.

Press contact: 
Miriam Teige
Tel: +49 (0) 7141 98 - 3354
E-mail: miriam.teige@mann-hummel.com


About MANN+HUMMEL

The MANN+HUMMEL Group is a leading global expert for filtration solutions and development partner and original equipment supplier to the international automotive and mechanical engineering industries. Employing 16,000 people at more than 60 locations worldwide, the company achieved sales of about 2.8 billion euros in 2014. The group’s product portfolio includes air filter systems, intake manifold systems, liquid filter systems, cabin filters and technical plastic parts, as well as filter elements for vehicle servicing and repair. For mechanical engineering, process engineering and other industrial applications, the company’s product range encompasses industrial filters, a series of products to reduce carbon emission levels in diesel engines, membrane filters for water filtration and filter systems. Further information about MANN+HUMMEL can be found under http://www.mann-hummel.com.