LEIPA can look back on 175 years of success
In 1869 Georg Leinfelder starts up operations with the first LEIPA paper machine – making him a pioneer of industrialization in Schrobenhausen. In an era when horses and carriages jostle for space in the streets, LEIPA makes a very innovative move by choosing to transport the company’s products to the rest of the world by rail. And this close partnership has remained strong to this day, as the railway is still a main pillar of the company’s logistics system.
When the second paper machine starts production in 1887, LEIPA gradually and systematically expands its service and product portfolio for its customers. The company’s success is based on a rigorous focus on niche products. Even in the earliest phases of company history responsible utilization of resources and energy-saving production processes constitute a central building block of LEIPA.
The paper mill grows at a rapid pace. Hollander beaters and calenders are set up, the company’s own wood grinding mills are established, and the necessary power is supplied by LEIPA’s own power plants, some of which is obtained through hydropower coming from the adjacent Paar River. Ultimately it is the continuously maintained and modernized machinery, a corporate concept with a holistic approach from an early stage and above all, loyal personnel and an excellent customer retention that all help LEIPA survive the inevitably difficult years from 1914 until after 1945. In 1947, two years after the war has ended, only 1,750 tons of paper are being produced. But things are slowly looking up and in 1949 the company once again has a workforce of 240. Production is running on two paper machines, using wood, fibre and waste paper as raw materials.
Dr Hubert Schrödinger takes over
The year 1961 sees the most significant baton handover in the 5th generation of the family-owned firm: After a six-month transition period, Dr Hubert Schrödinger assumes full and sole responsibility of the company group when his father, Dr Hans Schrödinger, steps down. By the mid-1960s the company employs a workforce of 250 and between 1960 and 1970 annual production increases from 8,200 to 18,100 tons. In the true spirit of an entrepreneur, Hubert Schrödinger dedicates himself to his work in the business, but also to working on it. The decisions he makes still to this day characterize the image of LEIPA and form not only a solid basis for the success of today but also set the course to future achievements.
Two of his most important decisions set off a chain reaction with positive consequences down the line: For one, the revolutionary switch from cellulose fibres to waste paper as the main raw material in LEIPA’s production in 1973 and acquisition of the paper mill in Schwedt from the Treuhandanstalt in 1992. Hubert Schrödinger more than meets his own goal of being constantly on the cutting edge of technology with an average investment rate of 10% of turnover. During the years since 1992 alone the family has invested over 1.25 billion euros in the company group. And not a single investment has ever been restricted to the machines, processes and technology, but rather in the interests of people as well.
LEIPA the pioneer
As early as 1967 LEIPA begins refining paper from its own production with the aim of acquiring new customer groups, particularly in the packaging market. This concept is still being pursued by the company today: The focus of today’s FlexPack business unit is on flexible packaging based on paper as a printing composite. The product pallet reaches from ultra-modern functional barriers to deep drawn paper.
In 1973 there is a significant change of direction in Schrobenhausen: Waste paper replaces cellulose fibres entirely and at the same time cardboard production is introduced. When numerous service providers declare the project as unfeasible for the calculated budget, LEIPA undertakes the enterprise on its own. And to this day this cardboard machine is still in daily use with the highest production capacity of any other machine.
Off to new dimensions
With the acquisition of the paper mill in Schwedt in 1992 and the merging of both locations to form LEIPA Georg Leinfelder GmbH in 1999 begins an era of major investments and pioneering decisions: In 2001 the KM 3 in Schwedt is replaced by the PM 3 for production of corrugated base paper based on 100% recycled paper. From 2005 onwards, the PM 3 produces exclusively white top testliner, both coated and uncoated.
In the beginning, no one could believe that there was actually a market for this product. A challenge similar to the one experienced by LEIPA in the graphic coated paper sector. Because by modifying the PM 1 for production of graphic papers based on 100% recycled paper, LEIPA introduced an innovative process which enabled the inline coating of recycled paper. This is the basic prerequisite for the later development of Light Weight Coated (LWC) papers based on waste paper and laid the foundation for introduction of the PM 4 in 2004 – still the latest, most modern LWC paper machine in Europe.
These path-forging achievements have only been possible thanks to these main factors: the owner’s willingness to re-invest and his entrepreneurial vision, the teams of motivated and dedicated employees as well as competent and reliable service providers and project partners.
New structure for the company group
In line with its declared goal to more strictly orient the company to accommodate its customers’ needs and requirements, in 2015 LEIPA was restructured completely. Since then, management of the company group has been controlled by LEIPA Group GmbH and is built on a strategy that is followed by all the companies in the group – above all LEIPA Georg Leinfelder GmbH, LEIPA Logistik GmbH and MAD Recycling GmbH.
Crucial groundwork is also laid in terms of distribution: With a focus on serving the needs of customers on the international level even better and in a more customer-oriented manner, LEIPA acquires a 49% holding in Gratenau & Hesselbacher, Hamburg, and renews its cooperation agreement with German distributor Jacob Jürgensen, also based in Hamburg. Both of these trading partners have customer contacts and expertise in overseas marketing and distribution and will greatly contribute to expanding the international presence of LEIPA products. The goal of LEIPA’s global distribution network is to provide its customers with a business partner and reliable consulting all over the world.
This concept also includes comprehensive service packages with a high level of product and production competence that sets standards in the market. From the procurement of waste paper, production and distribution, to customer service, logistics and the disposal of paper: As a company group LEIPA covers the entire valued added chain and can offer customers individualized service packages or comprehensive turnkey concepts.
No future without a past
If there is one essential DNA building block from the history of LEIPA that identifies the family-owned enterprise, it is this – always an investment in progress. LEIPA sets the course for sustainable growth. Positioned as a global market leader for white top testliner, Schwedt is the biggest European paper mill based on 100% recycling and the group-wide benefits and scalability of the SAP platform offer ideal prerequisites for this. With Robin Huesmann on the management board of LEIPA Group GmbH and Till Huesmann as a member of the supervisory board, the family is now in its sixth generation of actively shaping the LEIPA of the future – with this clear strategy in mind: remaining independent and flexible, maintaining a high level of readiness to re-invest and having the freedom to make decisions as a family-run company, in order to grow with its customers.
The first hundred years: 1535 - 1987
1535 - First documented record of paper production in Schrobenhausen
1847 - Michael Leinfelder buys the paper mill from Anton Lutz (today LEIPA Mill Schrobenhausen)
1869 - Start-up of first paper machine by Georg Leinfelder (LEIPA Mill Schrobenhausen)
1945 - Production in the mill restarts (LEIPA Mill Schrobenhausen)
1959 - Cornerstone laid for the most modern and productive paper mill in the GDR (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
1961 - Board production begins (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
1963 - Newsprint production begins (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
1967 - Start-up of converting plant, today Business Unit FlexPack (LEIPA Mill Schrobenhausen)
1973 - Start-up of board production in Schrobenhausen (Schrobenhausen mill)
1973 - Switching over of entire production from primary fibre to recovered paper basis (Schrobenhausen mill)
1985 - Installation of closed circuit water circulation system (Schrobenhausen mill)
1986 - Plant operating completely on closed circuit water circulation system (Schrobenhausen mill)
1987 - Founding of Münchener AKTEN+DATEN Vernichtung GmbH (MAD) to ensure supply of raw materials (Munich)
After the fall of communism: 1992 - 1999
1992 - Acquisition of Schwedt Papier & Karton GmbH (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt)
1994 - Introduction of coated recycled printing paper (LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
1995 - Installation of 8-colour gravure press for Business Unit FlexPack (Schrobenhausen mill)
1998 - Start-up of co-extruder for Business Unit FlexPack (Schrobenhausen mill)
1998 - Founding of LEIPA France 1998 (Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France)
1998 - Founding of LEIPA Logistik and establishment of Schwedt logistics centre (LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
1999 - Merging of Georg Leinfelder GmbH & Co. Schrobenhausen with SPK to form the logistics centre LEIPA Georg Leinfelder GmbH in Schrobenhausen
1999 - Founding of LEIPA Polska (Warsaw, Poland)
1999 - Founding of LEIPA Pack Bucharest (Ilfov, Rumania)
The second millennium: 2000 until today
2000 - Founding of subsidiary LEIPA Logistik Schrobenhausen (Schrobenhausen)
2001 - Rebuilding of PM 3 machine in Schwedt (LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
2001 - MAD takes over operations in Lithuania, Poland and Czech Republic
2002 - Merging of MAD with Van der Elst Papierrecycling GmbH, Krostitz to form Münchener AKTEN+DATEN Vernichtung GmbH (MAD)
2003 - Cornerstone laid for new PM 4 machine (LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
2003 - Founding of LEIPA UK (Tenterden Kent, United Kingdom)
2003 - Merging of MAD with Wertstoff-Verwertung GmbH Schwedt to form Münchener AKTEN+DATEN Vernichtung GmbH (MAD)
2004 - Completion of PM 4 for production of high-quality magazine paper (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
2004 - Construction of new warehouse with a capacity of 9,000 m² for LEIPA Logistik (today LEIPA Mill Schrobenhausen South)
2004 - Installation of shelf-shifting system with a capacity of 8,800 pallets for LEIPA Logistik (Schrobenhausen site)
2005 - Production of magazine paper for gravure printing (Mill Schwedt South)
2008 - Start of construction on Schwedt power plant (Mill Schwedt South)
2008 - New fleet of trucks for LEIPA Logistik with 15 vehicle combinations (Schwedt site)
2010 - Opening of sorting facility in Ingolstadt with a sorting capacity of 30,000 t/a (Ingolstadt site)
2010 - Start-up of operations in Schwedt power plant (LEIPA Mill Schwedt South)
2012 - Expansion of MAD waste paper purchasing to include more than 150 in-house and jointly operated purchasing centres (Germany-wide)
2013 - Start-up of tandem extruder for Business Unit FlexPack (Schrobenhausen mill)
2013 - Founding of LEIPA AUSTRIA & CEE (Vienna, Austria)
2015 - 2015 - Restructuring of LEIPA company, name changed to “LEIPA Group” (Munich site)
2016 - Founding of LEIPA Benelux (Leiden, Netherlands)
2016 - Acquisition of UPM Schwedt mill and rebuilding for future testliner production (today LEIPA Mill Schwedt North)
2017 - Family of company owners founds Rising Generation
2018 - Completion of PM 5 for production of corrugated base paper based on 100% recycled material (LEIPA Mill Schwedt North)
2018 - Relaunch of brand and brand presence
2019 - 60 years of paper from Schwedt
2019 - Open day in Schwedt with 5,000 visitors
2019 - Award by IHK OBB for excellent training quality at LEIPA Georg Leinfelder in Schwedt
2019 - Award by the IHK OBB for excellent training quality of LEIPA Logistik
2019 - Opening of the new Conference Center Schwedt
2019 - Award of the IHK Oberbayern with the seal of excellence for LEIPA Georg Leinfelder in Schrobenhausen
2022 - The founding of the business unit Sustainable Solutions Consulting (SSC)