The history of automotive manufacturing …

Eduard Hengstenberg 1937

… is closely linked to the history of our company. In the twenties – a period that saw the start of industrial automobile manufacturing – Eduard Hengstenberg went into business for himself as a sales representative. He represented several engine part manufacturers, some of which supplied their parts to vehicle manufacturers. Then, like today, automobile manufacturers maintained close cooperation with independent component manufacturers for both the development and the production of automobiles. In contrast to today, the repair market was completely separate from the new car business. Vehicle manufacturers already had internal sales organisations, but predominantly concerned themselves with selling vehicles. The maintenance, service and particularly the repair of vehicles and the installed components was performed by independent specialist workshops that procured the spare parts required for the repairs almost exclusively from the actual product manufacturers. Their customers included workshops that had specialised in engine overhauls.

Eduard Hengstenberg focussed on engine repairs. He represented the interests of the Nürnberger Aluminiumwerke GmbH, which manufactured aluminium pistons under the brand name “Nüral”. They were referred to as “cylinder grinders” in the technical jargon because an engine overhaul primarily consists of using boring mills to drill out the damaged cylinder and “grinding” the cylinder walls, while the worn pistons are replaced. The activities associated with engine overhauls not only required a great deal of technical knowledge by the specialists and fitters involved, they also required expensive machines and tools. A correct engine repair was ultimately crucial for the engine’s future service life. The piston was the most important spare part, but certainly not the only one required by engine repairers. For this reason, Hengstenberg soon started to sell products such as gaskets, bearings, valves and the like in addition to pistons. As he was not able to obtain commercial agencies for all the products, he purchased them himself, thus laying the foundation for an independent trade business. He established a warehouse in his home in Essen. His wife Gertrud Hengstenberg took over the purchasing, the order processing and the dispatch activities together with a trainee. Hengstenberg himself visited his customers in the Ruhr by rail and tram.

The small company grew together with increasing motorisation. At the start of the thirties Hengstenberg rented a small house in Lindenallee in Essen and in 1939 Eduard Hengstenberg purchased a property on Bismarckstraße 59 in Essen. The building was a large villa from the end of the 19th Century. This house with auxiliary buildings allowed the company to continue to grow. However, his work and home were still under the same roof. Two years prior to this, on 02/07/1937, Eduard Hengstenberg registered his company in the Commercial Register in Essen. During and after the Second World War the supply programme was expanded to additional motor vehicle repair products. The customer base also expanded to include wholesalers and the mechanical engineering sector, as many motor vehicle products are also used in mechanical engineering.

Following the death of Eduard Hengstenberg in 1948, his wife independently continued the business with 20 employees. At the same time, their children, Ruth and Edwart, became co-partners in the company. Edwart Hengstenberg has been working for the company since 01/04/1960. In 1964, the then business premises were relocated to Laubenhof 6 in Essen-Altenessen. In 1969, the industrial parts and motor vehicle parts divisions were separated from the company. In 1990, the group was restructured under company law. Besides members of the Hengstenberg family, who together hold 75 percent of the share capital, Commerz Unternehmensbeteiligungs-Aktiengesellschaft purchased the remaining 25 percent.