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Marginal Column

Embarking on a new era

It was 125 years ago that Robert Bosch founded his company. At the same time Rexroth took a decisive step forward in technology.

Photo | Robert Bosch GmbH / Bosch Rexroth AG

Left: Robert Bosch. Right: Georg Ludwig Rexroth II.

Robert Bosch opened his precision mechanics and electrical technology workshop in Stuttgart in 1886, laying the foundation for significant innovations in a new industrial age. At just the same time, Rexroth was launching a decisive reorientation in its own objectives. After more than ninety years in forge operations, the company shifted the focus of its business to casting. This reorientation was critical to the firm’s survival, since technological innovations such as the Bessemer process enabled mass production of steel.

These technical and economic revolutions triggered the decline of the iron forges that forty years prior were profiprior for the Rexroth family. In 1861 – the year Robert Bosch was born – Georg Ludwig Rexroth II, in the town of Lohr, acquired the last forge in the company’s history. At the same time the first such works were closed in the Spessart region and the nearby Odenwald area. The course for the company’s future development having been set eleven years before, with the acquisition of the iron foundry in Lohr, the shift in production to the more promising castings could be even more consistent.

Turning toward new frontiers

The company took the decisive step in 1886 when it shut down the “Lower Forge” at the Lohr Iron Works. Thus, 125 years ago, the main site experienced a significant expansion in foundry capacities. Launching this technological change at the right time proved to be one of the company’s most important decisions. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was in exactly this foundry that pressure-resistant castings were developed. That paved the way to a promising technology for the future – hydraulics. And that road continues down to the present. With the successive expansion of the technology spectrum that followed, Bosch Rexroth advanced to become the Drive & Control Company it is today.

Ever since the 2001 merger with Bosch Automation Technology, a member of the Bosch Group, it has been able to offer its clientele broad-based technological expertise. Early recognition of market opportunities and long-term involvement in growth markets are constant factors in the company’s long tradition, as is the emphasis on the customers and suppliers. Robert Bosch put a fine point on it: “Honest and upright management of the company is, in the long run, the most profitable option. The business world values this far more than one might believe.”