Sunday, 19 January 2020
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100 years Osma – a lift family

It is the sixth biggest lift company in Germany. The fourth generation is now at the helm and in 2019 it will be precisely 100 years old: we are of course speaking of Osma-Aufzüge Albert Schenk GmbH & Co. KG.

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The Albert Schenk GmbH & Co. KG in Osnabrück. (Photo: © Osma)

The engineer Wilhelm Adler and master fitter Friedrich Dreier laid the foundations for Osma 100 years ago when they had the company “Osnabrücker Maschinen- und Aufzugbau Adler & Dreier” registered at the local court on 20 May 2019. The dual management did not work for long: Dreier left the company a year later.

Adler then got the company on the road to success, producing both in the field of steel construction as well as the hoisting equipment segment. But the upturn ceased abruptly when Adler died in 1928. His widow Anna and several buyers continued the company.

The name Schenk appeared for the first time five years later: Albert Schenk I was a trained fitter and had a degree in mechanical engineering. He joined the struggling company in 1933 as partner.

He soon began to build lifts and the company began to prosper: employees were hired and the company also started to train apprentices. One of the first of these apprentices was Albert Schenk II, the son of the owner.

War, end of the war and reconstruction

HandwerkIn the meantime, the company continued to expand; larger new premises were leased. At the same time, the company naturally benefited from the building boom in the early years of National Socialism.

The company site was struck by a bomb on 2 April 1944. The family and company were temporarily relocated from Osnabrück to Dissen near the Teutoburger Forest. Reconstruction began after the end of the war. As early as 5 April 1946 Albert Schenk I registered the resumption of operations as a commercial business and production restarted.

The figure who was to shape the company was appeared on the scene only a little later: Albert Schenk III was born on 4 February 1949. The business flourished in the following years. In 1950, the Schenks bought the current company site in the industrial estate of Osnabrück. The familiar acronym Osma came into use from about 1952 – probably together with the move to the new company site.

Return to success

After a brief crisis, father and son, Albert Schenk II, returned the company to success. A former employee of Schindler helped develop the lift division – on which Osma then successfully concentrated in the course of the 1950s. The first branch offices were also set up during this period; these underwent massive expansion by Albert Schenk II in the succeeding decades.

This gratifying development was overshadowed by the death of Albert Schenk I. His son became the sole managing director. In the 1960s the premises were further expanded. Around 1970 a test tower for testing the company’s own and third party components were built. It has remained in use to this day.

Photography became a passion

Albert Schenk III returned to the company as authorised signatory after undergoing training and studying. He began to modernise the administration and sales. A main focus of his attention in the coming years was the introduction of modern marketing.

HandwerkBut his already comprehensive vocational and academic training was insufficient for this. Schenk trained at IBM as a programmer and completed further training as an offset printer and photographer. Photography became his passion: he travelled through Germany to photograph the most beautiful Osma lifts.

He was not only able to create professional sales documentation with these photos, they became the foundation of an Osma picture archive, which now has over 300,000 pictures and with which he created elaborate illustrated books.

The fourth Osma-Generation…

Albert Schenk III continuously expanded Osma, enlarged the company site once again and added new branch offices. There were also changes in his personal life: at the end of 1970s he married Margarete Küpperfahrenberg. This marriage produced the fourth Osma generation in the person of Jens-Albert Schenk in 1979.

In the mid-1980s Osma already had 160 employees with turnover in excess of DM 25 million. At the end of the 1980s Albert Schenk II then withdrew from active management on health reasons. He died in 1992 and his son became the sole managing director.

The 10,000th lift was built in 1990 with the number of employees rising to 300 by 1994. But competition was also becoming tougher – above all due to the price pressure of the market. Osma maintained its position by continuing to focus on handicraft-oriented and customised production. To this day, the degree of vertical integration is about 90 percent.

Efficiency and growth

Albert Schenk III’s devotion not just to his own company, but to the sector itself was shown in 2005 when he assumed chairmanship of the VDMA Trade Association Lifts and Escalators, which he continues to lead with great passion.

HandwerkIn 2009 the fourth Schenk generation took its place in the company: Jens-Albert Schenk became the second managing director at the side of his father and expedited the subjects of increased efficiency and growth. “First, we subjected the company structures and processes to close examination and made them more efficient with the help of new technologies.” The aim is keep the family competitive during a time of increasing price pressure.

Jens-Albert Schenk has his father’s full support in this regard. “Of course, letting go is difficult. But if Osma is also to remain competitive in future, fresh new ideas have to be applied.”

Ulrike Lotze

Osma timeline
1919 Establishment of the “Osnabrücker Maschinen- und Aufzugsbau Adler & Dreier”
1933 Albert Schenk I takes over the company and changes the name to “Osnabrücker Maschinen- und Aufzugbau".
1937 Osma becomes a member of the “German Engineering Association (VDMA)”
1944 The company premises and production facilities destroyed in bombing raid
1948 Reconstruction of the production facilities by four employees and family members
1949 Albert Schenk III born on 4 February 1949
1950 Albert Schenk I buys the current company site in the industrial estate of Osnabrück
1951 Production in the new premises resumes
1959 Albert Schenk I dies on 8 November
1961 The company delivers its 1000th lift
1968 Osma builds a test tower for its components
1975 Osma introduces electronic data processing
1976 Osma implements electric lift controllers
1979 Jens-Albert Schenk born on 9 May 1979
1992 Albert Schenk II dies on 26 August
1993 Introduction of a process-oriented management system according to DIN ISO 9001
1998 Osma establishes the space-saving lift drive Futura 3000, which facilitates a lift without machine room
2004 The company launches a bus-oriented microprocessor controller
2005 Albert Schenk III elected Chairman of the Trade Association “Lifts and Escalators” in VDMA
2006 Osma expands the company site and sells its 20,000th lift
2009 Jens-Albert Schenk becomes the second managing director beside Albert Schenk III
2012 Osma receives the red dot design award in the product design category
2019 Osma celebrates its 100th anniversary: it has a workforce of 650, 16 branches throughout Germany, more than 20,000 maintenance agreements and generates a turnover of over 83 million euros

Albert Schenk – an interview with LIFTjournal

www.osma-aufzuege.de

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