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1947 Entry of Lemförder Metallwaren Gesellschaft mbH in the commercial register on May 20, 1947. 1953 The first branch factory in Dielingen starts operations. 1960 Construction of the Wagenfeld plant. 1962 Foundation of Maschinenbau Damme GmbH. 1963 Conversion of the Lemförder Metallwarengesellschaft into a stock corporation; Dr. Jürgen Ulderup is sole shareholder and director. 1967 The company agreement for the foundation of Elastmetall is signed. 1968 Lemförder Metall Argentina SRL in Buenos Aires is the first international outpost. 1972 Lemförder Metallwaren is 25 years old: At year-end, the company records about 2 200 employees. 1983 The nonprofit Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation is established. 1984 ZF acquires 51 percent of the Lemförder Group. 1991 Dr. Jürgen Ulderup dies at the age of 81. 2003 ZF owns 100 percent of the shares; in parallel, the Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation holds 6.2 percent of ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

ZF Lemförder ­ a Review

Today, the Car Chassis Technology division is an integral element of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Where are the roots of this division? This is a review of an exciting development




which starts in the postwar years.



Lemförde near Osnabrück is the domicile of a group of companies in which ZF acquired a 51 percent majority share in 1984. This group of companies is made up by the Lemförder Metallwaren AG as well as the Lemförder Metallwaren J. Ulderup AG & Co. and their domestic and foreign holdings. In 2003, ZF increases its share in the ZF Lemförder Metallwaren AG, Lemförde, from 75.6 to 100 percent. In return, the Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation, Lemförde, the previous shareholder, acquires a 6.2 percent share in ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Today, ZF Lemförder, the Car Chassis Technology division of ZF, develops and produces automotive components and complete front and rear axle systems for vehicles with a gross weight of up to 3.5 t.

Metallwaren-Gesellschaft mbH is entered into the commercial register of Diepholz. Ulderup's father Wilhelm is the stockholder of the enterprise. From the very beginning, however, business is run by his son. Ulderup describes the first years of his entrepreneurial activities in the following words: "Everything that could be exchanged or sold was produced under the most modest conditions." In November 1950, Ulderup is general manager. Four years later, he owns all the shares of the company. The name of the founder and the first products supplied are symbolically represented in the firm's logo: The owl in a triangle, originally formed by three tie rods. Conversion into a stock corporation is decided by the shareholders' meeting on July 20, 1963. Jürgen Ulderup is now sole owner and director. The domestic market is booming and Ulderup is already active on an international level. In 1963, a license agreement is signed for the production of tie rods and propshafts in Brazil.

The Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation

In 1983, Dr. Ulderup and his wife Irmgard found the nonprofit Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation, which today is a civil-law foundation with independent legal existence. In addition to promoting the protection of nature and landscape, including the habitat of the owl, the purpose of the foundation is to pursue social activities, in particular, to educate and qualify young people. The concern of the founders, to offer high-quality vocational training to the people of the region, is demonstrated by the following examples: Foundation of the Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Academy in Diepholz for the higher qualification of technical staff; co-partnership with the University of Applied Sciences called "Oldenburger Münsterland" by establishing and promoting a mechanical engineering course in Diepholz; a scholarship program with the "Education Foundation of the German People". Partnership with ZF provides Ulderup with a competent partner allowing him to safeguard the future of the Lemförder Group and his employees. His ties with the company were very close until his death in April 1991.


1 Dr. Jürgen Ulderup, founder of the Lemförder Group. 2 Irmgard and Jürgen Ulderup on the day of their civil marriage in Munich in June 1961. 3 Logo of Lemförder Metallwaren. 4 A shack on a regional hill near Stemwede ("Stemweder Berg") as the "First HQ" of Lemförder Metallwaren. 5 Female employees in the production assembly bay of Lemförder Metall in the 50s. 6 Training at Lemförder, 1971.

The "First HQ" on the "Stemweder Berg" hillside

A commercial corporation is founded by his father, Dr. Wilhelm Ulderup, in Flensburg in the fall of 1945. The articles of association are changed in 1946, and the company operates as the Norddeutsche Metallwaren-Handelsgesellschaft mbH with its office in Lemförde. Production activities are also planned for Lemförde, in addition to carrying on trade. Approval is granted in 1946, and about a year later, the Lemförder Metallwaren Gesellschaft mbH is entered into the commercial register of Diepholz. Initially, the business activities encompass the exchange and trade of all kinds of commodities. Such commodities include aluminum pots as

The founder of the Lemförder Group: Dr. Jürgen Ulderup, a socially responsible entrepreneur. His business conduct is characterized by farsightedness, single-minded determination, and consistent action.

For many years, he is director and owner of the company. Over a period of four decades, Ulderup is fully committed to the economic success of the company and the social interests of his employees. On May 20, 1947, the Lemförder






The modern technical 7 headquarters in Dielingen. ZF Lemförder 8 Schaltungssysteme in Diepholz. ZF Lemförder 9 Fahrwerkmodule in Diepholz. Control arm 10 production line at the Diepholz plant. CAD workstations at 11 the development center in Dielingen. Before the first real prototypes are tested, chassis components are subjected to virtual load simulation.

well as medical equipment. The product range also includes tables, closets, beds, sheet metal, plates, pipes, and tools. In addition, farm vehicles and machines are maintained. Always on the move, Ulderup establishes contacts with domestic automakers, such as Auto Union, Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz, or Borgward. The first vehicle parts are produced in a modest shack on the "Stemweder Berg", a hill in the region. In 1952, push rods and propshafts are added to the production program of the company. Business expands; the workshop on the "Stemweder Berg" is extended several times, soon the extensions are no longer adequate. Ulderup is offered a piece of land in Dielingen/Westphalia, which enables him to set up a branch factory. Today, the center for education and further education is located on the "Stemweder Berg". About 100 apprentices can be trained there in 13 technical and com-

mercial occupations. Between 1949 and today, 1 300 young people have been trained by Lemförder. The `Stemweder Berg' is also the location for the management, IT, and personnel development offices as well as those of organization development and the Dr.-Jürgen-Ulderup Foundation.

and the constantly changing requirements for modern automotive technology, as well as the changeover from components to complete systems, and continuous product development result in steadily growing markets for the Lemförder products. The "Haus der Technik" (Technology House) is completed in 1981. The new development center is completed in January 2000. Today, the technical headquarters are in Dielingen. Some administrative and development departments with their testing and laboratory equipment are also located in Dielingen. Chassis components for commercial vehicles are developed and produced at this location.

supplies complete tie rods for the VW Beetle, VW Bully, NSU Prinz, Opel Kadett, and the Opel Rekord. From the very beginning, the Damme plant boasts a complete training workshop. Training is provided for machine fitters, turners, electricians, technical drawers, and commercial clerks. Ulderup pushes the production of ball joints for the chassis. He is urged by the automakers, who wish to build up a second competing supplier. However, he is also acting on his own urge, since he has a particular interest in these important safety components. Today, joints and tie rods are produced in manufacturing cells. All employees are organized in teams which are determined by the production process. To safeguard the future of the Lemförder plants, the organization as well as the distribution of products among the plants has been reviewed. The objective is to produce as efficiently as possible and to avoid duplication of work. The legally independent plants are incorporated in the Lemförder Metallwaren AG.

The Dielingen factory

When the Dielingen branch factory starts operations in 1953, nobody would have ever imagined what kind of importance this factory was going to gain in the upcoming years. The company is entered into the commercial register of the district court of Diepholz on December 19, 1953. Production of fuel tanks and seat frames is started. In addition, tie rods for cars and trucks are assembled; later, pipe machining is added. Between the early days and 1970, the workforce at the Dielingen plant is increased from 40 to nearly 1 000 employees. Adjustments to market conditions

The locations Wagenfeld and Damme

Ulderup acquires a piece of land in Wagenfeld on March 19, 1960. A few months later, 30 employees start producing seat frames for Lloyd and Karmann and actuating rods for Auto Union, Ford, Simca, and Borgward. The first wheel joints are spherical joints for Opel. These are supplemented by joints for Vidal and supporting and guiding joints for the VW Beetle. Today, wheel joints and independent axle joints are produced at the Wagenfeld location. On December 15, 1962, Dr. Jürgen Ulderup founds the Maschinenbau Damme GmbH. The purpose of the company is to expand the production capacity for tie rods. The Damme factory

Steering columns and shifting systems

The production of steering columns at the Bremen location starts more than 25 years ago. Today's Nacam Deutschland GmbH of the ZF-Bosch joint venture called ZF Lenksysteme






is founded as Lemförder-Warner Mechanic in Lemförde in 1969. Today, the company is a leading European manufacturer of hightech sophisticated steering column systems. The ZF Lemförder Schaltungssysteme GmbH, founded in Diepholz in 1998, is just as successful. The company produces gearshift systems for manual and automatic transmissions. The list of major customers includes Audi/VW, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford/Landrover, and Opel.

company. Further plants are set up in Hebron, Duncan, Tuscaloosa, Lancaster, Lapeer, Williamstown, Chicago, and Hickory. In Brewer, a second plant is established as a joint venture. The plants are product-oriented. In addition to the locations in the U.S., ZF Lemförder has production locations in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, India, Korea, and Thailand. China starts becoming a focal issue in the mid-nineties. ZF Lemförder operates plants and participations in Shanghai, Shenyang, and Changchun. The latest addition to worldwide presence is a new plant in Australia. Following the integration of the subsidiary ZF Lemförder International in Bremen as an aftermarket organization worldwide spare parts activities are now handled by ZF Trading.


expands capacities. Expansion of plastic-metal production ­ and later of rubber-metal production ­ with supporting mounts, SILENTBLOCS, rubber mounts and buffers is started. In the early 70s, the automotive industry increasingly focuses

As a result of the further development of "Vulkollan", a novel elastomer, a material with amazing properties is obtained. Vulkollan not only complements rubber, it can also replace metals. Ten years later, employees are experimenting again with thermoplastic materials in a separate area of the assembly hall in Dielingen. These experiments result in small-volume production of injection-molded parts. The Elastmetall company is developed from this department. The objectives of the company include the development, production, and sale of technical articles made of plastic materials and of combinations of these materials with metals. In mid-1968, Elastmetall is relocated to Damme. In 1973, Elastmetall moves into its own rooms and

on weight reduction through the use of plastic parts. This trend decisively influences the development of Elastmetall. Raw materials used in industrial chemistry are modified with the aim to obtain special material properties. In the past decades, more and more injection-molded articles made of thermoplastic materials have been conquering the markets.

12 The ZF Lemförder plant in Shenyang assembles complete front and rear axles for the BMW 3 and the BMW 5 Series produced in China. 13 Ball pins 14 The logo of ZF Lemförder. 15 Preparation of the assembly of a hydraulic engine mounting at the Simmern plant of ZF Boge Elastmetall. 16 Tie rod production at the Damme plant. 17 Shift-by-wire system for an Audi TT automatic transmission.

Worldwide expansion

Expansion on the European market is initiated in the late 60s through participations and company foundations in Spain and France. These moves are followed by activities in Great Britain, Italy, Turkey, and Austria. In the mid-nineties, ZF Lemförder sets up a business structure in North America and starts producing components and axle systems, in effect the entire Lemförde product range and chassis technology for commercial vehicles, as well as steering columns and Elastmetall products for American and German manufacturers which have transferred their production of special models to the USA. Such activities are started in the late 70s. The Lemförder Corporation in Brewer, Maine, established in 1980, is the first wholly-owned

ZF Boge Elastmetall GmbH

On February 28, 2002, the ZF Lemförder Elastmetall ­ independent since 1997 ­ and ZF Boge are merged into the ZF Boge Elastmetall GmbH, which is headquartered in Lemförde. The company produces components and systems used for vibration damping and mounting applications in chassis and driveline systems. This is done in close cooperation with customers. There are numerous applications, including minicars, sedans, commercial vehicles, or rail vehicles.

Rubber-metal compounds and plastics ­ fascinating materials

In 1967, Ulderup establishes the Gesellschaft Elastmetall Damme/Oldenburg GmbH. In 1968, the company name is changed to Elastmetall GmbH. Untiringly, Ulderup insists that the company develops its own competence regarding the production of rubber-metal compounds ­ with trailblazing success. Activities in this field are started already in 1954/55 in the departments for rubber and plastics in Lemförde.




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