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PETER GREV<strong>EN</strong><br />

100 YEARS OF<br />



PETER GREV<strong>EN</strong><br />





For reasons of better readability, the masculine form is mainly used for personal designations and<br />

personal nouns in this book. Corresponding terms generally apply to all genders in terms of equal<br />

treatment. The shortened form of language is for editorial reasons only and does not include any<br />

rating.<br />

Introduction Imprint:<br />

© 2023 Peter Greven GmbH & Co.KG<br />

Peter-Greven-Str. 20-30<br />

D-53902 Bad Münstereifel<br />

Production: Westkreuz-Verlag GmbH<br />

12309 Berlin<br />

This work is protected by copyright. Any use outside the limits of the copyright law is illegal and<br />

punishable by law without permission from Peter Greven GmbH & Co.KG. This applies in particular<br />

to reproductions, translations, microfilming and storage and processing in electronic systems.<br />

Translation from German to English by Sue Manderfeld – „English Rose, English with a smile!“<br />

and Kern AG, Bonn

CONT<strong>EN</strong>TS<br />

FOREWORD 7<br />






THE 1960s THE 2ND G<strong>EN</strong>ERATION TAKES OVER THE LEADERSHIP 53<br />


THE 1970s EXT<strong>EN</strong>DED CAPACITY 67<br />






THE 2010s COMPANY’S DEVELOPM<strong>EN</strong>T INTO THE US 117<br />



THE 2020s OUTLOOK 131<br />





The Peter Greven company was formed by my<br />

grandfather 100 years ago, in 1923, as a ‘soap<br />

and glycerine factory’. Many companies, even<br />

those considered to be modern and innovative,<br />

enjoy success only for a limited period of time<br />

and often survive for only a few years. As with<br />

many mid-sized, family-owned businesses –<br />

which are especially important for growth and<br />

job security in the overall economy, especially in<br />

Germany – we have also managed to survive a<br />

number of difficult periods and crises over the<br />

last few decades.<br />

Why is it that family-run companies often manage<br />

to hold out (and stay independent) for longer<br />

than large, listed corporations? As I see it, two<br />

aspects are particularly relevant here.<br />

Firstly, family-run businesses are almost always<br />

oriented towards the long term. Management<br />

rarely obsesses over quarterly results and even<br />

annual figures are not considered critical as<br />

long as medium- and long-term development is<br />

proceeding smoothly towards company targets.<br />

Many studies have shown that this is a reason<br />

why family-run businesses are often more successful<br />

in the long term. And it was certainly very<br />

far-sighted of our management to decide to start<br />

production of metallic soaps in the 1950s, thereby<br />

opening up an entirely new business segment<br />

for the company. Although our major source of<br />

Peter Greven<br />

income until that time, bar soap manufacturing<br />

is now no longer relevant – with metallic soap<br />

production being far and away our most important<br />

segment worldwide.<br />

Secondly, company management and company<br />

ownership are normally one and the same thing<br />

at family-run businesses. This avoids a number<br />

of typical problems from the outset. Company<br />

founders must always weigh up opportunities<br />


and risks very carefully, since their entire capital<br />

will be on the line in the event of a miscalculation.<br />

During the 1950s and 1960s, our company<br />

could certainly have experienced rapid growth<br />

if we had decided to concentrate on only a<br />

few major customers and industries. However,<br />

this would have run counter to the principle of<br />

spreading risk – which is why my father and my<br />

uncle decided at the time to focus on a slower<br />

rate of growth with fewer risks. In a large corporation,<br />

where managers typically spend only<br />

a few years in top-level positions, are not personally<br />

liable and are largely shielded from risk,<br />

a quite different decision would probably have<br />

been made. In the past, this separation of entrepreneurial<br />

risk and personal liability has led<br />

to a number of cases of extraordinary business<br />

misconduct.<br />

On the other hand, family-run businesses also<br />

have their disadvantages and unique sets of<br />

problems. The biggest disadvantage is that conflicts<br />

within the family can have a direct and<br />

far-reaching impact on the business itself. Fortunately,<br />

our family members and shareholders<br />

have always been able to see eye to eye with<br />

one another in the past, and able to agree on a<br />

solution quickly and without rancour. Decisions<br />

have almost always been unanimous on issues<br />

put to the vote in the shareholders’ meetings I<br />

have attended. Where conflicts have arisen, everyone<br />

has focused on the well-being of the company<br />

first and foremost, and been able to prioritise<br />

finding an amicable solution over personal<br />

interests. We have now formulated these kinds<br />

of ideas in our official Family Charter, which codifies<br />

the principles that guide the actions of our<br />

shareholders and our entire family, with the aim<br />

of ensuring the continuation of our business in<br />

the future.<br />

In this timeline, we have tried to record the most<br />

important developments in the company from its<br />

formation to the present day. In putting together<br />

this information, we have noted major transformations<br />

in technologies and production facilities,<br />

markets and competition, customers and suppliers,<br />

laws and general conditions, and much more<br />

besides. Yet despite these changes, the underlying<br />

principles of our corporate governance and<br />

teamwork remain the same, even today.<br />

We hope you enjoy reading about our company!<br />

Peter Greven<br />


Partners’ Meeting 2019

THE 1920s<br />


Enthusiasm for the company, holding on to visions<br />

and appreciation of employees are now,<br />

as then, the pillars of the family business, which<br />

enables us now to look back on 100 years of<br />

company history.<br />

Peter Greven must have also had this enthusiasm<br />

and vision when, in 1923, at the age of 37 he<br />

saw more than a ruin in the remains of a small<br />

wood-shavings factory by the river Erft in Bad<br />

Münstereifel-Iversheim. Here, ropes, wood shavings<br />

and other products had been produced since<br />

1883.<br />

Also the ideal location at the river Erft as an important<br />

source of raw materials led Peter Greven<br />

to put forward his request to the mayor, to set up<br />

a chemical plant, as, the area at the Erft included<br />

the water rights - which were very important to<br />

his plans - and the location provided space for<br />

future expansion.<br />

Iversheim had been an independent municipality<br />

since 1816 however with municipal reorganisation<br />

in 1969 it joined Münstereifel, which since<br />

1967 was called Bad Münstereifel.<br />

through self-study and as a guest student and<br />

intern at the chemical-technical Institute of the<br />

RWTH Aachen University. Here he studied, as<br />

well as other things, organic chemistry and the<br />

methods of lipolysis, glycerin extraction, hydrogenation<br />

and distillation.<br />

Peter Greven was born in Eschweiler near Aachen<br />

in 1886. He completed his commercial apprenticeship<br />

at the age of 17 with distinction. The<br />

Dalli company in Stolberg near Aachen was his<br />

employer for the next 20 years.<br />

Peter Greven increased his knowledge of the science<br />

of chemistry and its industrial applications<br />

Company founder Peter Greven<br />

In his role in operational management at Dalli<br />

in Stolberg he could be a part of the company<br />

transition, from a craft business to an industrial<br />

company. For this reason, he was well prepared<br />

for starting his own business.<br />


Letter from the company Mäurer & Wirtz from 1913<br />


The first hand-drawn map of the factory from 1923<br />


14<br />

The foundation<br />

application from<br />


THE 1920s<br />

On the 30th June 1923, the official day of foundation<br />

of the family business, Peter Greven applied<br />

for the establishment of a „soap and glycerin factory.“<br />

On 23rd December 1924 concessions for its<br />

construction were granted.<br />

The family had purchased the land with the<br />

buildings and other pieces of land. Cauldrons,<br />

compactors and all the equipment that Greven<br />

required for the production were transported by<br />

hand winches and pulleys and erected by hand.<br />

The cauldron was heated with anthracite coal<br />

and was initially filled by means of a shovel.<br />

Job offers were available, throughout the country,<br />

experienced, „diligent and unmarried“ soap makers<br />

and master soap makers were sought. These<br />

professionals were also sought after abroad.<br />

After several renovations and additions, soap<br />

and glycerin production began.<br />

It often smelt of Seef (Eifel dialect for „soap“)<br />

now, in Iversheim. And the residents called out<br />

Seefe – Pitter, to the chemist, businessman and<br />

factory owner Peter Greven when he was riding<br />

his bicycle. The front of which had a bicycle rack<br />

with a crate attached where Peter Greven kept<br />

his product samples for sale across the country.<br />

Initially, a few employees produced curd soap,<br />

household soap, soda and simple washing powder<br />

from animal fat in Iversheim.<br />

The fats were boiled with sodium hydroxide solution<br />

to curd soap and glycerin was created as<br />

Elisabeth and Peter Greven<br />

a byproduct. The fully cooked soap mass was<br />

pumped in to shallow tubs on a frame, which<br />

could be cooled. After cooling, the plates were<br />

taken as soap components out of the tubs. These<br />

were about eighty centimetres square in size,<br />

four inches thick and were cut into small pieces<br />

with thin wires. The pieces were pressed into<br />

shape in hand presses – this was mainly done<br />

by women.<br />

Also, Peter Greven’s wife Elisabeth, whom he<br />

married on 14th May 1912 in Stolberg, worked in<br />

the fine soap department or helped with the bicycle<br />

for the soap deliveries. Until then, she had<br />

worked as a teacher in the city.<br />

Jakobus was born in 1913, the first of six children,<br />

followed by Marie-Louise in 1914, Heinz in 1916,<br />

Marianne in 1917, Günther in 1918 and Gisela in<br />

1921.<br />

Elisabeth Greven was known by her family to<br />

have a very strong personality. Many years later<br />


THE 1920s<br />

one remembers a saying that makes her stance<br />

clear: At that time the production was fraught<br />

with strong odours. Often it was said that it<br />

“stinks again!” But she replied that it would be<br />

better if it would stink a little more. More odour<br />

meant more production which was a sign for her<br />

that the business was successful.<br />

The product range was continuously extended<br />

and was soon supplemented by toilet soap, special<br />

soaps for various applications, washing powder<br />

and detergent.<br />

Greven didn’t sell the finished products directly<br />

to end users, but to dealers and shops that were<br />

supplied in the local area with the hand cart or<br />

Family Greven<br />

Above - from left to right: Peter Greven, Gisela, Günther<br />

Below – from left to right: Marie-Louise, Heinz, Marianne, Elisabeth Greven,<br />

Jakobus<br />

Elisabeth<br />

Greven<br />


icycle. For transport further away, a horse and<br />

cart was specially purchased.<br />

Soon the excellent quality of the soap and detergent<br />

became well known far beyond the Eifel<br />

region, customers from Cologne, Aachen, and<br />

Trier sent their orders. Multi-day delivery trips<br />

sometimes heading to Leipzig or Dresden were<br />

soon on the agenda.<br />

The proximity to the mining area and the Ruhr<br />

district turned out to be advantageous, as the<br />

workers had an agreed entitlement to a bar of<br />

soap per day, which Greven enjoyed delivering.<br />

In order to be able to spend more time with his<br />

family, Peter Greven built a house on the company<br />

grounds, on which the office was also located.<br />

He strengthened his interest in his homeland<br />

through membership in various clubs and always<br />

had very good relations with his neighbours.<br />

On the company premises there was also a large<br />

garden with a small pond. On an extensive fifty<br />

acre site, Peter Greven invested in a fish pond.<br />

The family kept chickens and had a greenhouse.<br />

The purchased fatty acid which was essential<br />

for the production, caused strong odours during<br />

processing, therefore the understanding of the<br />

population in the immediate vicinity was of major<br />

importance.<br />

The family home on the company grounds<br />

Environmental protection and concern for the<br />

welfare of employees and the neighbourhood,<br />

were then and remain to the present day the<br />

principles of the company.<br />

In 1928 Peter Greven was personally invited by<br />

the mayor to ensure that when waste water from<br />

the „chemical plant“ returns to the Erft that it is<br />

completely treated and harmless.<br />

With increasing demand, production in the „soap<br />

and glycerin factory“ grew continually, technical<br />

development and increased mobility made possi-<br />


THE 1920s<br />

ble the development of a growing sales territory.<br />

The world economic crisis also hit the Eifel at<br />

the end of the 20s. It was increasingly difficult to<br />

obtain sufficient raw materials of good quality at<br />

good prices. Indeed, fatty acid as the main raw<br />

material was still available in sufficient quantities,<br />

but was more expensive.<br />

To avert economic damage to the company, to<br />

remain independent of market conditions and<br />

to ensure the production site in Iversheim, Peter<br />

Greven made the decisive and visionary decision<br />

to build its own fat hydrolysis plant, in order, in<br />

the future, to be able to produce the main raw<br />

material for soaps, fatty acid itself.<br />


THE 1930s<br />


Putting this plant into operation in 1934 for the<br />

extraction of fat hydrolysis and glycerin is still<br />

regarded today as one of the milestones in the<br />

company‘s history.<br />

In Iversheim many oils and fats were processed<br />

from both animal and vegetable origin: beef fat,<br />

whale oil, palm oil, castor oil, soybean oil, peanut<br />

oil, and others. The raw materials were tested<br />

in the laboratory and analysed after arrival,<br />

subjected to a cleaning process in the factory,<br />

and a little later split under pressure and high<br />

temperatures into fatty acid and glycerin.<br />

The byproduct glycerin was refined and used for<br />

industrial purposes or resold as a raw material.<br />

Originating from fatty acid and after saponification<br />

with sodium hydroxide solution, depending<br />

on the additives and the type of further processing,<br />

toilet soap, curd soap or industrial soap were<br />

created. In toilet soaps various additives, including<br />

colours and fragrances and the soap dough<br />

were added. The final composition was the shaping<br />

of the material by soap mills and extrusion<br />

presses. The soaps shape and imprint varied according<br />

to the type, purpose and requirements<br />

of the recipient country – as did the packaging,<br />

which completed the manufacturing process.<br />

In addition to the above mentioned soaps, washing<br />

powder, scouring powder, washing soda,<br />

head washing powder and liquid soap were also<br />

produced. Also here, the filling and packing of<br />

cartons, cans or bottles made up a significant<br />

share of the production work.<br />

The growing demand for fatty acids for the production<br />

could now be operated continuously and<br />

the operation also achieved greater independence<br />

from national and international commodity<br />

markets.<br />

Production and trade expanded and the raw fatty<br />

acid and glycerin could not only be used by the<br />

company but was now for sale.<br />

With Germany‘s economic development after<br />

overcoming the global economic crisis, the demand<br />

for washing powders and soaps of all kinds<br />

increased, and the need for soap grew continually,<br />

especially in the mining regions.<br />

In 1936, LIGA and LIGANA toilet soap bars were<br />

Peter Greven’s first legally protected brand<br />

names. The broad product range now also included<br />

household and industrial soaps of all<br />

kinds, soap powder, detergent and fatty acid,<br />

glycerin, soda and chemical-technical products.<br />


Application for a licence from 1927<br />



Building planning is determined today, as in the past, by the river Erft, as an important source of water<br />


THE 1930s<br />

The company also benefited from scientific advances<br />

in the field of chemistry for detergents<br />

and the ever-increasing sales of glycerin.<br />

Peter Greven continued to invest in his company<br />

and paved the way for innovation. New steam<br />

boilers could be purchased and the necessary<br />

expansion of the soap works could be tackled.<br />

Ensuring the water rights from the Erft running<br />

through the plant was confirmed by the district<br />

president by obtaining new water drainage and<br />

sewage discharge rights on 23rd September<br />

1939.<br />

The first coal-fired steam boiler<br />

The beginning of World War II on 1st September<br />

1939 had initially no effect on the production and<br />

business activities of Peter Greven in Iversheim.<br />

Nevertheless, an air-raid shelter had to be built<br />

on the premises, parallel to extensions and conversions<br />

of production plants.<br />

At the time, Peter Greven, now 53 years old, was<br />

also concerned with the question of succession<br />

in the company directorship, and this he wanted<br />

to keep in the family.<br />

The first-born son Jakobus held a degree in economics<br />

was devoted to scientific work at the University<br />

and achieved his doctorate in 1936. His<br />

dissertation, „The dynamic monetary theory of<br />

A view of the soap works with a boiler in the background<br />


THE 1930s<br />

The plan for the construction of an air -raid shelter on the company grounds<br />


Soap bar production at the end of the 1930s<br />

mercantilism. A study of John Law” was cited in<br />

1971 and even 1989. But he did not return to the<br />

family business.<br />

Instead, Dr. Jakobus Greven joined the executive<br />

board at the Frankfurter Metallgesellschaft. This<br />

later became a major customer, and belonged to<br />

the Metallgesellschaft subsidiary company Lurgi,<br />

which was a major technology supplier.<br />

At the end of the 30s, Peter Greven’s two sons<br />

Heinz and Günther Greven were ready to move<br />

on to the executive board to succeed their father,<br />

after successfully completing practical training<br />

in various companies in the chemical industry.<br />

Their knowledge and experience gained would<br />

be of great benefit for further development of<br />

the paternal company.<br />


THE 1940s<br />



Some of the Peter Greven company products<br />

were well known during the war, such as, the<br />

washing powder and scouring agent LIGA BLITZ.<br />

A sand soap was produced according to the rationing<br />

measures which was suitable for cleaning<br />

the hands in order to remove tough dirt stains<br />

and heavy soiling.<br />

Over time the raw materials became scarcer.<br />

Even animal fats that were actually substandard<br />

and were not used in normal times for human<br />

consumption were now coveted food stuffs.<br />

Peter Greven has always been a staunch opponent<br />

of the measure, „the German fat gap“, that<br />

is, due to the lack of suitable fats for human consumption<br />

to produce coal-derived butter.<br />

As „the German fat gap“ was promoted, Peter<br />

Greven immediately began to fight against the<br />

thesis “butter produced from coal.” He was of<br />

the opinion that this „butter“ was very dangerous<br />

for public health and the oxidation products<br />

obtained from coal should only be used as fatty<br />

acids for technical purposes.<br />

After 1945 Peter Greven even wrote a treatise<br />

on the subject and submitted his explanation to<br />

various committees. He proved that the „butter<br />

produced from coal“ was an economic and nutritional<br />

failure and that there wasn’t even enough<br />

glycerin available for its production.<br />

After the end of the war in 1945 Germany and<br />

the world lay in ruins, and economic life were<br />

virtually at a standstill. Iversheim was now in the<br />

British occupation zone.<br />

As like everywhere else, mainly women worked<br />

in the Peter Greven factory, as so many men had<br />

been killed, were missing or still in captivity.<br />

People were cold and hungry and there just<br />

wasn’t enough of anything. The black market<br />

flourished, and everyone had to somehow provide<br />

for themselves and their family. For Peter<br />

Greven it was also difficult to resume production<br />

in full.<br />

Despite this, Peter Greven additionally devoted<br />

himself to the management of the company and<br />

many public functions.<br />

As the community and district mayor, and member<br />

of the county council and official to the head<br />

of the maintenance community of the upper Erft<br />

committee, as well as the reallocation committee,<br />

he assumed a lot of influence on institutions<br />

of public welfare in the region. He was also a<br />

member of the Advisory Board of the Association<br />

of German Soap Manufacturers. For several dec-<br />




We are all very familiar with the natural oils and fats present<br />

in our food. The oils most commonly encountered<br />

here are sunflower, soybean, rapeseed and olive oil, although<br />

more unusual oils such as linseed oil, nut oils or<br />

pumpkin seed oil are now increasingly used. Apart from<br />

butter, fats of animal origin do not tend to play much of<br />

a role as food products any more – although fans of lard<br />

(whether used as a spread or for frying, for example) and<br />

beef tallow (traditionally used on French fries in Belgium)<br />

can still be found.<br />

In contrast to their use as foods, the use of natural oils<br />

and fats in chemical or technical processes is not so wellknown,<br />

although large volumes of these substances have<br />

been used in this way for many years. Their use here is now<br />

becoming more important due to the trend towards the<br />

use of renewable raw materials. In the chemicals industry,<br />

tallow and palm oil are important raw materials.<br />

While the production of tallow as a meat industry by-product<br />

has remained virtually constant for many years, palm<br />

oil production has expanded rapidly:<br />

As in the food sector, technical processes also depend<br />

heavily on the difference between saturated and unsaturated<br />

fatty acids, since this strongly affects the properties<br />

of the oil or fat in question. While unsaturated fatty acids<br />

and oils with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids<br />

are liquid at room temperature, saturated fats and fatty<br />

acids are solid. Although extremely popular for food use,<br />

unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in technical<br />

applications often have the disadvantage of tending<br />

towards discolouration or even decomposition when exposed<br />

to heat. Saturated fatty acids are more stable in this<br />

respect. To obtain these stable, saturated fatty acids, fats<br />

or fatty acids are commonly hydrogenated (hardened). This<br />

process – which is a matter of some concern from a nutritional<br />

point of view and therefore often<br />

the subject of heated debate (regarding<br />

trans fatty acids), is very useful and often<br />

indispensable for technical applications.<br />

Quelle: https://de.statista.com/infografik/19707/entwicklung-des-weltweiten-palmoel-konsums/<br />

Alongside the distinction between saturated<br />

and unsaturated fatty acids, chain<br />

length (i.e. the number of carbon atoms)<br />

is another decisive criterion. As the chain<br />

length increases, the melting point rises.<br />

As a result, long-chain fatty acids tend to<br />

have better lubricating properties, while<br />

short-chain fatty acids tend to exhibit better<br />

solubility. The correct distribution of<br />

fatty acids can therefore be determined<br />

for the specific application. The overview<br />

shows the most important fatty acids and<br />

their origin.<br />


Most oils and fats are found only in certain regions of the<br />

world, since their cultivation requires specific climatic conditions.<br />

The world map shown below offers a rough guide<br />

to the most important production regions:<br />


The demand for natural oils and fats has risen continuously<br />

over the last few years. The primary reasons for this<br />

include:<br />

– Rapidly increasing demand for food products in Asia’s<br />

fast-growing national economies, especially China and India<br />

– Rapid expansion of the biofuels sector<br />

While the proportion of biofuels is relatively low on a<br />

global scale, biofuel manufacturers are already the biggest<br />

buyers of palm oil in Germany, for example:<br />

In Western Europe, the rapidly expanding cultivation of<br />

palm oil – especially in Indonesia and Malaysia – and<br />

its associated negative environmental impact is now attracting<br />

increasing criticism. A palm oil boycott would not<br />

help the environment, however, since all other oils require<br />

significantly more land per litre of oil. Replacing palm oil<br />

with other oils would therefore require even more land<br />

for cultivation – thereby generating new environmental<br />

problems.<br />

Source: WWF study from 2016<br />


A better approach ist to use sustainably grown palm oil.<br />

RSPO (Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil) is the leading<br />

certification system here. We have been member of RSPO<br />

for many years now, and we support the use of certified<br />

palm oil and its intermediate products. This certification<br />

ensures that rainforest is not cleared or wetlands drained,<br />

for example, and that human rights are not abused during<br />

palm oil production.<br />

There are many challenges involved in the transition to a<br />

carbon-neutral economy and the associated switch from<br />

fossil to renewable raw materials. However, these challenges<br />

can indeed be overcome if the sustainability criteria<br />

for all raw materials are fully documented and priced<br />

accordingly.<br />


THE 1940s<br />

ades he served as advisory and assembly member<br />

with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry<br />

of Bonn, in 1958 he was made an honorary<br />

member.<br />

After Heinz and Günther Greven had returned<br />

from the war, they began their work in the factory<br />

and soon took over the running of the company.<br />

Günther Greven was a classic businessman and<br />

his focus was always based on cost reduction,<br />

productivity, profitability and growth for the<br />

benefit of the family business.<br />

However, Heinz Greven had an enormous amount<br />

of chemical- technical knowledge and practical<br />

skills, including abilities in the field of pneumatics<br />

and conveyor technology. This was of great<br />

benefit, especially with the constant construction<br />

and expansion of production facilities, also<br />

new facilities could be assembled using cheaper<br />

individual components which they assembled<br />

themselves. The combination of the two brothers’<br />

widely differing abilities secured the company’s<br />

dynamic and stable development.<br />

Elisabeth Greven with her sons Heinz, Jakobus and<br />

Günther (left to right)<br />

Nevertheless, this classic constellation with a<br />

commercial and a technical leader at the helm<br />

also resulted in some conflict during its decades<br />

of joint management. In their discussions with<br />

opposing viewpoints Heinz and Günther Greven<br />

would always agree on one point: both thought<br />

and acted in the interest of the company. On<br />

this basis, the brothers always found a common<br />

path and a satisfactory solution for the company.<br />


„We all live from the company. We need to maintain and cultivate it<br />

and then we will always have work.“<br />

Quote: Heinz Greven, late 1940s<br />


THE 1940s<br />

Every now and then Jakobus Greven also helped<br />

either from Frankfurt or directly in Iversheim to<br />

balance the different interests and conflicts of<br />

his younger brothers. This defined the second<br />

generation within the company. Günther and<br />

Heinz Greven always did what they could - for<br />

the company and for their employees. But even<br />

later Heinz Greven is cited by a former employee.<br />

During his speech at the Christmas party, the<br />

technical director regretted not being able to<br />

give a lot of Christmas money – but hoped that<br />

the situation would soon improve.<br />

With the currency reform of 1948, the German<br />

Mark was introduced in the three western zones<br />

of Germany on 21st June 1948. This was one of<br />

the most important economic policies in postwar<br />

German history. In the middle of the fiscal<br />

year, the Peter Greven company had to create a<br />

conversion balance sheet in which all company<br />

assets had to be converted into the new currency.<br />

A conversion balance<br />

sheet to mark the currency<br />

reform of 1948<br />


THE 1950s<br />


Delivery of raw materials in the 1950s<br />


THE 1950s<br />

After the war, the economic situation improved<br />

slowly.<br />

Many of the 300 soap factories in Germany were<br />

shut down or taken over by corporations. Major<br />

efforts and rationalisation were also necessary at<br />

Peter Greven if it wanted to operate successfully<br />

as a medium-sized business against the threat of<br />

competition from international corporations.<br />

As before, the focus was on the production of<br />

high quality soap and detergents. The products<br />

sold under the brand names LIGA and LIGANA<br />

had achieved nationwide reputation. The proportion<br />

of alkali soaps at the time made up 50 %<br />

of the total company sales.<br />

The in-house laboratory not only analysed the<br />

raw materials and finished products, but also<br />

mixed fragrances and other essences. Some<br />

combinations of essential oils from around the<br />

world are a closely guarded trade secret.<br />

Through experimentation, new recipes have<br />

been developed and tested. Our own formulations<br />

were tailored to customer needs and were<br />

stored individually for production.<br />

In addition to the soaps for major customers in<br />

the mining industry, the all-purpose and industrial<br />

soaps, which as technical soaps represented<br />

special products, increasingly gained in importance,<br />

for example, as a base for grinding pastes,<br />

a dry lubricant in metal forming or as a stabiliser<br />

in the chemical industry.<br />

In the mid-fifties the foundations were laid for<br />

the realignment of the family business: the transition<br />

from being purely a soap factory to a producer<br />

of oleochemical additives and derivatives<br />

was completed. At the same time, on July 1st<br />

1955 the individual enterprise became a limited<br />

partnership.<br />

In the now increasingly important plastics industry<br />

a need for metallic soaps developed, and<br />

here the Peter Greven Company, rightly, as it<br />

later turned out – saw an interesting and new<br />

business opportunity. However, the beginning of<br />

the metallic soap production was not easy and<br />

A view of the laboratory of the 1950s<br />


Article from the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper from 19.01.1954<br />


THE 1950s<br />

not achievable in the short term because the development<br />

of a completely new production technology<br />

was necessary. The product properties of<br />

the metallic soaps, e.g. calcium, magnesium, zinc<br />

and aluminum were different from those of previously<br />

produced sodium and potassium soaps,<br />

since they are not water-soluble and tend to<br />

have a waxy character.<br />

Therefore in 1955, the Greven brothers were in<br />

search of more knowledge than was available in<br />

the company itself. Barely five weeks after the<br />

job vacancy from 5th July was placed in a chemist<br />

newspaper, the engineer/chemist Erwin Elsner<br />

got in touch.<br />

He presided at the time over a larger production<br />

department with a number of inorganic and organic<br />

products, had extensive knowledge in the<br />

field of metallic soaps and textile facilities and<br />

was very knowledgeable in the production of<br />

physically varying measured qualities.<br />

This was compatible with the Peter Greven company<br />

and its new goals. The man wanted change<br />

and was looking for a lifetime post - but Erwin<br />

Eisner was still working in a nationally owned<br />

enterprise (GDR), a chemical plant Greiz- Döhlau,<br />

he lived in the German Democratic Republic<br />

(GDR). Here, they were more intensively involved<br />

in the production of metallic soaps and already<br />

had gained expertise in various processes.<br />

Due to the political conditions however, contact<br />

between East and West needed to remain secret,<br />

just the job application could be dangerous for<br />

the sender and his family.<br />

Decades later, the conspiratorial plans on both<br />

sides were still spoken about with respect and<br />

acknowledgement, as the engineers escape from<br />

the GDR to Iversheim was known as a cloak and<br />

dagger operation.<br />

The Greven family then helped him to settle in<br />

West Germany and later to be joined by his family.<br />

Together with Heinz Greven they developed the<br />

new production technology and soon the first<br />

production line went into operation.<br />

The importance of this step is obvious from a<br />

strategic perspective when one is aware that<br />

metallic soap is the fastest growing segment of<br />

the last decades and the company’s most dominant<br />

business division to this day.<br />

Realisation that plastics would greatly expand<br />

in the future came from Dr. Jakobus Greven from<br />

the Board of the Metallgesellschaft in Frankfurt<br />

a company that was already, at that time preoccupied<br />

with the production of stabilisers for<br />

PVC processing. Metallic soaps, in those days<br />

predominantly stearate, were required for their<br />

production.<br />


In 1956 metallic soaps production began in Iversheim.<br />

The first product was made using improvised<br />

production at existing facilities and was mainly<br />

sold to the Metallgesellschaft. The metallic<br />

soaps production initially developed slowly and<br />

in the 50s only represented a small share of the<br />

total production volume. Nevertheless, the development<br />

of new products and production technologies<br />

was a landmark for the company.<br />

The tranquil location on the Erft soon lacked sufficient<br />

space for necessary expansion.<br />

In 1956 they started to open up and build on the<br />

neighbouring area. In 1957, the new plant for<br />

stearate was built.<br />

Stearate was produced by the so-called melting<br />

process, i.e. in a stirred reactor stearic acid and<br />

lead oxide were converted into a molten mass.<br />

Thereafter, the product would be sprayed in order<br />

to bring it to the desired powder form.<br />

During the search for additional components<br />

for expansion, Heinz and Günther Greven found<br />

what they were looking for in neighbouring Holland,<br />

where they bought a used spray system for<br />

the production of lead stearate. Two fitters from<br />

Heinz Greven cut the plant there into transportable<br />

individual parts. These were welded back<br />

together again in Iversheim, and the plant was<br />

constructed.<br />

More and more factories were built, most of<br />

them second hand. Their adaptation and modernisation<br />

was carried out according to their own<br />

plans and under their own direction.<br />

Later, alongside stearate, zinc, calcium and magnesium<br />

stearate were produced. These were<br />

then produced using the so-called precipitation<br />

process, i.e. stearic acid, sodium hydroxide and a<br />

large amount of water are converted into sodium<br />

stearate, and then precipitated in a second step<br />

with the addition of the appropriate metal salts<br />

Administration in the late 1950s<br />


Registration of the trademark from 1954<br />


View of the company’s premises in the early 1950s<br />


46<br />

The first brochure for the<br />

new hand cleaning agent<br />

business in the late 1950s

THE 1950s<br />

such as calcium chloride in an agitator tank. This<br />

costly and energy-intensive method is still widely<br />

used today where it depends on special metallic<br />

soaps properties, such as achieving a very<br />

high specific surface area. By way of example the<br />

use of zinc stearate is used for a water-repellent<br />

effect on external rendering.<br />

Another new development was the so-called<br />

drawing agent for producing (the „drawing „) of<br />

steel wires. Also, these products, based on soap<br />

or metallic soaps fit well to the Peter Greven<br />

program. Small pilot plants were built for the<br />

production of drawing agents. Production was<br />

manual and had little to do at that time with<br />

modern chemical production. The products were<br />

„baked“ in pans with lids and the finished „cake“<br />

was crushed and ground. The products were<br />

brought to the respective wire-drawing factory<br />

and tinkered and experimented with to achieve<br />

the best recipe.<br />

The drawing agent proved itself in the application,<br />

the demand grew and larger facilities had<br />

to be built. The stearate was melted in a copper<br />

pot and poured into a sheet metal trough to<br />

cool. These chunks of stearate were crushed and<br />

ground for use.<br />

The plants took on a more complex structure<br />

and were supplemented by automatic extractions<br />

and silo stockpiling.<br />

The original business, skin cleansing products<br />

had not been forgotten about. In addition to<br />

the expansion of the stearate plant, from 1958<br />

onwards systematic development of a modern<br />

skin cleanser in a dosing dispenser, soap-based<br />

and with wood-flour as an abrasive agent took<br />

place. These products cleaned more effectively<br />

than soap and could be used sparingly. In the industrial<br />

sector the bar of soap was increasingly<br />

replaced by a cleanser in a dosing dispenser.<br />

On 2nd November 1958 the company Peter Greven,<br />

the Metallgesellschaft in Frankfurt and Borax<br />

Consolidated in London founded a joint venture,<br />

the chemical factory Iversheim. As the skin<br />

cleansing agent previously used in the industry<br />

was mostly sand hand washing pastes, among<br />

other things, this had the disadvantage of blocking<br />

the factory drains due to their high sand content.<br />

A new development was required.<br />

Borax, a water-soluble mineral that was mined<br />

in the opencast mine of the Borax-Consolidated<br />

London company was sold by the Metallgesellschaft<br />

Frankfurt and was the key to producing<br />


THE 1950s<br />

View into the soap works of the 1950s<br />

Soft soap filling<br />

water-soluble skin cleanser for industrial use in<br />

Iversheim.<br />

The products were later marketed under the<br />

brand name IVRAXO ®.<br />

Parallel to the expansion of production they proceeded<br />

to sell skin cleansers and dispenser products<br />

only directly to the industry.<br />

From this point in time the way was paved for<br />

withdrawal from the sale of soap to the end consumer,<br />

this represented a major decision. There<br />

were still plenty of soap factories, which had to<br />

discontinue at some point or were bought because<br />

the large corporations marketed with such<br />

extensive advertising budgets that smaller producers<br />

could no longer withstand the economic<br />

pressure in the end consumer field.<br />


Elizabeth and Peter Greven (below, centre) at a company party<br />



At the meeting of the Shareholders’ Committee in 1956, the important decision to expand the business in the direction<br />

of fatty acid and metallic soaps production was established here, a milestone in the company history<br />


THE 1960s<br />

THE 2ND G<strong>EN</strong>ERATION TAKES OVER<br />


The second generation of owners also lived, at<br />

the outset, very closely linked with the company<br />

– they lived and worked under one roof for many<br />

years.<br />

Günther Greven, for example, still lived in this<br />

house until he got married and then moved to<br />

the Alte Landstraße, where Heinz Greven also<br />

lived. But that was only a few hundred metres<br />

from the farm on the other side of the street.<br />

Until this time, the employees could hear when<br />

he got up from the breakfast table and walked<br />

down the wooden stairs. That was the sign for<br />

them to work extra hard.<br />

Development opportunities within the company<br />

were everywhere: Collaboration was more about<br />

existing knowledge and proven skills and less<br />

about certificates and diplomas. It wasn’t unusual<br />

for an assistant to work as a foreman. People<br />

Heinz and Günther Greven<br />


THE 1960s<br />

Acquisition of the new steam boiler 1 with heavy fuel oil operation<br />

were pleased with the good collaboration with<br />

their bosses and were proud to have been part<br />

of the company’s development – for some it was<br />

over forty or even fifty years.<br />

Also in this second generation of the family business<br />

they worked according to fixed principles.<br />

These proven principles hardly changed over the<br />

decades and they still remained the guideline for<br />

decision-making and the standard of conduct.<br />

With hard work, solid product- management and<br />

ingenuity the foundation for lasting economic<br />

success could be recognised.<br />

The Peter Greven Company was and remained<br />

a family business, which always appraised all<br />

its possibilities realistically and decisions were<br />

made together.<br />

While the technical director Heinz Greven cared<br />

mainly for the construction and renovation of<br />

production facilities, Günther Greven as the commercial<br />

director kept his eye on the finances. His<br />

motto was: Only buy what you can directly pay for.<br />

Together they were mindful of independence and<br />

autonomy, measured the development stages of<br />

the operation so that all investment was without<br />

credit, debt or even external owners. Instead, a<br />

high proportion of the profits were always reinvested<br />

in the company.<br />

There were always opportunities for cooperation<br />

with large companies and corporations. But<br />

there was a lot of skepticism, even against the<br />

banks.<br />


larger competitors maintained its independence<br />

with confidence.<br />

Construction of the autoclave splitting<br />

The family unit, however, has always preferred to<br />

develop the operation gradually and slowly, and<br />

to keep everything in their own hands.<br />

With this clear policy of consistently taking small<br />

logical steps the continuity of the solid Iversheimer<br />

soap and glycerin factory was ensured.<br />

The company faced attempted takeovers by<br />

In the meantime, Germany‘s economy grew rapidly.<br />

More new products were invented for the<br />

affluent society, technological progress favoured<br />

consumption and short-lived products. More and<br />

more plastics came on the market, new technologies<br />

also made the use of metal or alkaline<br />

soaps necessary in other industries.<br />

During the 1960s and 1970s there was a lot of<br />

construction work in Germany. Due to their water-repellant<br />

qualities, zinc and calcium stearates<br />

opened new opportunities in the field of building<br />

materials, building facades could now be better<br />

protected against external moisture and thus<br />

also against frost damage and loss of energy.<br />

The need for materials from the Greven Company<br />

grew steadily during this period, also because<br />

the applications covered a lot of different<br />

industries. Metallic soaps were not only used in<br />

the paper industry as lubricants and separating<br />

agents, but also for use in the construction industry.<br />

Fatty acids -based collector chemicals of<br />

waste paper were introduced in the processing<br />

and de-inking of waste paper.<br />

Metal stearates were used in the production of<br />

lubricants, and in the rubber industry.<br />

On 16th June 1962 Peter Greven died at the age<br />

of 76. All his life, his employees had respected<br />

him and held him in high esteem and affection,<br />


THE 1960s<br />

as an individual as well as an employer. Before<br />

his funeral, he was laid out in front of the new fat<br />

splitting plant, so that all the employees could<br />

say goodbye.<br />

This era was also shaped by a more fundamental<br />

change:<br />

In 1962, a new fat splitting plant was built and<br />

the first from 1934 was simultaneously shut<br />

down, because they had to give way to the new,<br />

more powerful high-pressure splitting plant<br />

for fatty acid extraction. Now, more and more<br />

glycerin water was being produced, which was<br />

pumped into large containers and then sold. But<br />

they didn’t want to confine themselves to the<br />

sale of glycerin water. For further processing<br />

Heinz Greven bought a used evaporation plant<br />

in the Netherlands for the production of highly<br />

concentrated glycerin.<br />

Unlike the large-scale chemical industry it<br />

wasn’t possible to rely on existing large-scale<br />

systems and processes in order to produce the<br />

oleochemical products that were considered specialties.<br />

One had to rely on product know-how<br />

and their in-house production processes. Many<br />

of the individual appliances or process steps<br />

were also introduced in other related industries,<br />

such as the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry<br />

and dairy processing. Therefore, this deep<br />

knowledge of processes, methods and apparatus<br />

technology was essential for the economic suc-<br />

Peter Greven, † 16.6.1962<br />

cess of the company. So we repeatedly reverted<br />

to the various components, as they were used in<br />

the industries, and used them to build our own<br />

customised production facilities.<br />

In 1964, „Peter Greven soap and glycerine“<br />

changed under the leadership of Heinz and<br />


Works outing in the 1960s<br />

The new autoclave splitting<br />




Soaps are one of the oldest chemical compounds to be<br />

manufactured by humans. Soaps are thought to have<br />

been invented by the Sumerians and date back to the 4th<br />

millennium BC. As later practised in Arab countries, the<br />

Sumerians boiled plant ash with natural fats to make their<br />

soap. What is not so clear is how these soaps were used<br />

– these early products were probably not used for cleaning<br />

but for medical purposes instead. Only in the second<br />

century AD are the Romans known to have used soap for<br />

washing clothing and for bodily hygiene. Today, this use of<br />

soap is an indispensable part of our day-to-day activities.<br />

Things are a little different with metallic soaps. While we<br />

do make use of their properties in many aspects of our<br />

daily lives, we don’t realise that we do so directly. Used<br />

in the exterior render of our residential buildings, they<br />

have a water-repellent effect and therefore help to save<br />

energy. Metallic soaps also give greases their consistency,<br />

and their chemical and mechanical stability. They are an<br />

indispensable part of paper manufacturing as well, and are<br />

also used in the production of wire and piping. Metallic<br />

soaps ensure plastic window frames stay weather-resistant,<br />

while their pharmaceutical qualities are fundamental<br />

to the rapid production of tablets.<br />

Metallic soaps are not only less familiar in terms of their<br />

product categories, they are also very different to everyday<br />

soaps in terms of their chemical and physical behaviours.<br />

Metallic soaps are insoluble in water, waxy and have good<br />

properties as release agents and lubricants, while standard<br />

soaps are water-soluble and good surfactants. The two<br />

types do have one thing in common: their oleochemicals<br />

raw material base.<br />

Raw materials<br />

Both, soaps and metallic soaps, use natural oils and fats<br />

as their starter materials. The primary materials used are<br />

tallow or palm oil, with castor oil also playing an impor-<br />

Direct process Precipitation process Fusion process COAD ® process<br />

Reactor Reactor Reactor Dosing<br />

Downstream agitator<br />

Buffer<br />

Reactor<br />

Filtration/washing Flaking/spraying Spraying<br />

Drying<br />

Grinding Grinding Grinding or Shaping Grinding<br />

Siloing Siloing Siloing Siloing<br />

Filling Filling Filling Filling<br />

58<br />

Flow diagram for metallic soap production

Nachmischer<br />

Downstream agitator<br />

Puffer<br />

Buffer<br />

Mill<br />

Mühle<br />

tant role here. Occasionally, other vegetable oils such as<br />

rapeseed, sunflower, olive or soybean oil will also be used.<br />

During processing, the fats and oils are split into their<br />

fatty acid and glycerine components (see page 30–33,<br />

‘FOCUS ON oils and fats’ ). The fatty acids thereby obtained,<br />

such as tallow or palm oil fatty acid, are commonly<br />

used in standard soap production. To use the fatty acids<br />

as a raw material for metallic soaps, they are typically hydrogenated,<br />

which transforms an unsaturated fatty acid<br />

into a saturated fatty acid. The hydrogenation process is<br />

also used to manufacture margarine, for example, so as<br />

to turn a liquid vegetable oil into the spreadable consistency<br />

required for this food product. At the same time however,<br />

this also increases the chemical and physical stability<br />

of the products, which offers additional benefits for the<br />

technical applications in which metallic soaps are used.<br />

The primary component within the saturated fatty acids<br />

is stearic acid, which is also used to manufacture stearin<br />

wax candles.<br />

Alongside fatty acids, alkaline reaction partners in the<br />

form of metals are also used for the production of soaps<br />

and metallic soaps. Water-soluble standard soaps are obtained<br />

by combination with metals such as sodium or potassium,<br />

although other alkaline substances such as ammonia<br />

may also be used. For the manufacture of metallic<br />

soaps, metals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, aluminium<br />

or lithium are used.<br />

Manufacturing process<br />

Soaps have been made from fats or oils for many hundreds<br />

of years. Early on, simple substances such as washing soda<br />

were boiled up into a soap product, with caustic soda or<br />

potash being used later. After several hours of boiling, this<br />

reaction produced a pearly-coloured emulsion, also known<br />

as glycerine soap. The next step is to add common salt:<br />

this separates the emulsion out into a solid and liquid part.<br />

The solid part – termed curd soap – can then be formed<br />

into soap bars and used as toilet soap. In many cases, additives<br />

such as perfumes and colourings will be added –<br />

these products are then known as fine soaps.<br />


Soap production from fatty acids was also dominated for<br />

many years by conventional batch production in open<br />

boiling kettles. The term ‘batch production’ refers to the<br />

processing of a specific quantity of material in a single<br />

reaction process. The boiling kettles used are typically<br />

equipped with an agitator system, and are heated by<br />

steam to temperatures between 60 °C and 95 °C. To manufacture<br />

a soap product, water and lye are piped into this<br />

vessel. The fatty acid is then added step-by-step, so as to<br />

induce the saponification process. Water content must be<br />

kept above 35%, because the soap mass would otherwise<br />

become too viscous for the agitator system. Following the<br />

reaction, chemical and physical parameters are configured<br />

precisely and other additives are dosed in as necessary.<br />

Liquid or semi-solid soaps can then be decanted directly<br />

from the boiling kettle. Solid soaps, which may be used in<br />

powdered laundry detergents, for example, must first be<br />

dried and transformed into their corresponding physical<br />

state. Since the drying process involves an additional input<br />

of energy, boiling kettles are now primarily used for the<br />

production of liquid or semi-solid products.<br />

Modern, continuous production methods facilitate the<br />

significantly more efficient manufacturing of solid soaps.<br />

The centrepiece of a continuous production facility is the<br />

reactor: this is pressurised and heated to temperatures of<br />

over 110 °C. Dosing pumps are then used to feed raw materials,<br />

lyes and fatty acids continuously into this reactor.<br />

Since raw materials continue to be fed into the reactor,<br />

new saponification reactions are also initiated. As a result<br />

of the high temperatures used, the reaction proceeds more<br />

quickly and the soap itself is more liquid, so that less water<br />

is required. While a downstream drying step is still necessary,<br />

the continuous method offers further advantages<br />

for this last process step, in addition to the reduced water<br />

content: the product energy and the heat released during<br />

the reaction can be utilised for drying, which results in additional<br />

savings on energy consumption.<br />

For the production of metallic soaps, four important largescale<br />

industrial methods are used:<br />

• Precipitation process<br />

• Direct process<br />

• Fusion process<br />

• COAD® process<br />

The precipitation process – also known as double decomposition<br />

– is the oldest method used for manufacturing<br />

metallic soaps. As a first step, water, caustic soda and fatty<br />

acids are mixed together in a reactor at around 60 °C to<br />

80 °C. The caustic soda and the fatty acid react to form<br />

a conventional soap solution, and the water serves as a<br />

diluting agent that keeps the mixture liquid. The second<br />

step is then to add a metal salt solution. A chemical re-<br />


action takes place that causes the metal component to<br />

form a compound with the fatty acid. This creates a metallic<br />

soap that precipitates out as a solid and is deposited<br />

on the floor of the reactor. This is then filtered out and<br />

washed by a filter press, so as to remove residues of other<br />

reaction components. The next step is to dry the metallic<br />

soap, so as to remove any moisture still present in the<br />

solid. Typically, parallel-flow drying will be used, whereby<br />

the warm air and the product both flow in the same direction.<br />

This type of drying takes just a few seconds. The last<br />

step in the process is product pulverisation. Precipitated<br />

metallic soaps are typically characterised by their extreme<br />

fineness. However, they still undergo a final pulverisation<br />

step, so as to break up any product clumps. The precipitation<br />

process produces very fine and effective products.<br />

Compared with precipitation, the direct process consists<br />

of just one reaction step rather than two. Here, the melted<br />

fatty acids are brought directly into contact with the<br />

metal component in a reaction mixer. Typically, only small<br />

quantities of water are used to control the reaction. Unlike<br />

precipitation, the drying step is not necessary in the direct<br />

process. However, pulverisation is more important here,<br />

since this step is required to give the product its required<br />

degree of fineness. The direct process results in products<br />

that are very easily dosed, which are primarily utilised in<br />

plastics manufacturing.<br />

The fusion process also starts with a liquid fatty acid, to<br />

which the metallic component is added. The basic principle<br />

is therefore the same as for the direct process, but no<br />

additional water is present and the temperature at which<br />

the reaction takes place is kept above the melting point of<br />

the metallic soap. Some metallic soaps cannot be manufactured<br />

using this process, however, since the metallic<br />

soaps of some metals are too viscous when molten to be<br />

properly processed by facility equipment. Yet this process<br />

does offer certain advantages, since combined products<br />

can be very easily manufactured in this molten (fused)<br />

state. These combined products may consist either of two<br />

separate metallic soaps or mixtures of metallic soaps and<br />

other additives, such as waxes. The metallic soaps manufactured<br />

using the fusion process typically exhibit good<br />

dosing properties and a clear molten mass that indicates a<br />

complete conversion.<br />

As with standard alkaline soaps, modern continuous production<br />

methods are also used for metallic soaps. Unlike<br />

the variants required for making standard soaps, however,<br />

the metals needed to produce metallic soaps are only present<br />

as solids, which makes precise dosing in the reactor<br />

as required by the formulation considerably more difficult.<br />

The COAD® process developed and patented by our US<br />

subsidiary resolves these difficulties, facilitating the highly<br />

energy-efficient production of various types of metallic<br />

soaps. In a similar way to the continuous process used for<br />

standard soaps, the heat of reaction is used directly in the<br />

process. The process is also characterised by a high conversion<br />

rate as well as excellent facility output. Products<br />

manufactured using the COAD® process are especially<br />

suitable for use within specialist applications in plastic<br />

manufacturing.<br />


THE 1960s<br />

Start of the construction of the metallic soaps department<br />

Günther Greven to „Peter Greven Fett-Chemie.“<br />

At the time, already one hundred employees<br />

worked for the company.<br />

In order to serve customer needs even better on<br />

site and to expand the service further, from 1964<br />

in addition to the employees in the office there<br />

were now five sales representatives travelling all<br />

over Germany who sold both products from the<br />

chemical factory Iversheim and from Peter Greven<br />

Fett-Chemie.<br />

In 1965, the offices were spread throughout the<br />

entire company, because the building was used<br />

as such. Elizabeth Greven also still lived on the<br />

premises.<br />

The purchasing department was located directly<br />

above the entrance. From there you could always<br />

see who arrived at the plant. Heinz Greven had<br />

an office in the middle of the building, so that<br />

the employees could always come directly to him<br />

with their problems.<br />

Where the commercial administration was located,<br />

was later used for production. Therefore,<br />

a new wing to the existing office building, the<br />

former home of the family, was built. Until 2013<br />

the entire commercial administration and technology<br />

was in this building.<br />

A former apprentice recalls the beginning of his<br />

training in 1965: Günther Greven said to him that<br />

from the two apprentices, he looked a bit more<br />

of a commercial type and therefore should work<br />

in the purchasing department. Thus, began the<br />

two-pronged training course as an industrial<br />

clerk in the HR department and the purchasing<br />

department. That was varied work: writing orders,<br />

filling pay packets and if necessary helping<br />

out in production.<br />

In 1967 all invoices were still typed using a typewriter,<br />

the sales were transferred to accounts by<br />

hand. A calculating device from Rheinmetall, a<br />


kind of computer - precursor, calculated, a short<br />

time later on its own. But printing an invoice<br />

could take up to ten minutes.<br />

It was a veritable revolution in the office when<br />

in 1968 a system with magnetic accounts was<br />

introduced from the company Kienzle. All data<br />

was stored and imported at the end of the month<br />

for the monthly ledger. This could often take up<br />

to two days, but all monthly values could be<br />

seen at one go.<br />

Production planning took place on a DIN A5<br />

sheet. Then in the evening all the orders of the<br />

day were written down. In the morning the warehouse<br />

was first checked to see what was available<br />

from the goods ordered.<br />

The department head was informed about anything<br />

which was missing, he/she then took care<br />

of the rest up to the delivery.<br />

In 1968, the first esterification plant was built<br />

at Peter Greven and thus the production of fatty<br />

acid derivatives was expanded to include another<br />

interesting group of substances, the esters.<br />

Especially the increasing plastic and rubber<br />

industry fields were target groups for the sale<br />

of these esters. The products were also largely<br />

made on the basis of their own fatty acids and<br />

supplemented the sales of metallic soaps very<br />

well, as, in the plastics industry they have, e.g.<br />

been used as so-called lubricants for extrusion<br />

of PVC profiles. Customers could be offered a<br />

broader product portfolio from a single source.<br />

Installation of a storage tank<br />


View of the business premises at the end of the 1960s, where the building development follows the course of the river Erft<br />


THE 1970s<br />


Despite the oil crisis, which in 1973 would put<br />

the global economy to the test, for the Peter Greven<br />

Company, this decade was especially characterised<br />

by further diversification of the product<br />

range.<br />

The plastics industry continued to expand and<br />

accounted from year to year for increased production.<br />

Growth and expansion also earmarked<br />

other industries - for example, mechanical engineering,<br />

automotive, food, textile, paper and<br />

cosmetics industries. This development resulted<br />

in a continued high growth potential for the sale<br />

of oleochemical products.<br />

Whoever saw the company in Iversheim as a soap<br />

and glycerin factory with an individual side production,<br />

now had to recognise the fundamental<br />

changes which would initially shape the 1970s<br />

but also later the 1980s. Under the direction of<br />

Heinz and Günther Greven the company finally<br />

developed into a chemical engineering company<br />

which flexibly met market demands and the individual<br />

needs of the customers and thus was able<br />

to stand out from most of the major providers of<br />

that time.<br />

They placed great value on the protection of inhouse<br />

product development and quality control.<br />

Also, products that were in use by various customers<br />

were investigated in the company laboratory<br />

at Iversheim. Quite often they were able<br />

to amend specific qualities that resulted from<br />

customer feedback.<br />

The laboratory was housed in part of a production<br />

plant. Five employees worked alternately<br />

here, they also took care of the specialist technical<br />

operation.<br />

Heinz Greven led both, the laboratory work as<br />

well as the technology and production plant.<br />

An attempt with the least possible outlay, and<br />

often with minimal initial quantities was made,<br />

in order to inspect the technical requirements for<br />

production on a larger scale. At the same time, it<br />

was examined whether these newly developed<br />

or adapted qualities could be reproduced on a<br />

permanent basis.<br />

Expansion of the metallic soaps production<br />


The new laboratory<br />

The administrative wing was attached to the existing house<br />


THE 1970s<br />

In addition, samples of metallic soaps were created<br />

in the laboratory. These were used as samples<br />

in the sales department for customer acquisition,<br />

and, the field sales force were also able to<br />

win over customer on-site.<br />

A good example of this came from the paper industry,<br />

where the otherwise mostly powdered<br />

metallic soaps had been used in liquid form<br />

(as a so-called dispersion) among other things,<br />

as a coating agent for surface preparation and<br />

smoothing of different kinds of paper.<br />

In 1971 a suspension containing 50% water and<br />

50% calcium stearate was successfully produced.<br />

After positive results in the laboratory, the first<br />

major tests in the plant and also later by the customer<br />

were successfully carried out.<br />

Of course, for such experiments, new apparatus<br />

was not bought directly. Firstly, it was first tested<br />

to discover, in which of the existing facilities<br />

the suspension could be produced. Initially, production<br />

took place in a plant where two stirring<br />

tanks had just become free. The technical equipment<br />

and the procedure were modified and then<br />

the suspension was produced in these boilers.<br />

These experiments and technical modifications<br />

required a lot of handwritten records and calculations,<br />

as calculators were not yet widespread.<br />

Calculations took place either by using a slide<br />

rule or with logarithm tables.<br />

With the production of the dispersions, there<br />

were now five production areas / departments<br />

at Company Greven where further refinement of<br />

their own fatty acid took place:<br />

- Soap (also called alkaline soap)<br />

- Metallic soaps<br />

- Drawing agents<br />

- Esters<br />

- Dispersions<br />

To this day, these five areas constitute the foundation<br />

of production orientation.<br />

The ever increasing production and expanding<br />

delivery quantities in international markets attracted<br />

increasing sales. Administrative tasks<br />

were more extensive, the demand for office<br />

space grew parallel to production.<br />

In 1973 a new office building was planned and<br />

built – a commercial department, sales, accounting,<br />

marketing and HR department were now<br />

working under one roof.<br />

This new administrative building was built next<br />

to the old house so that the offices which previously<br />

were scattered throughout the plant could<br />

now be centralised, this also simplified communication<br />

between the individual departments. In<br />

addition, the old office site was needed for further<br />

production plants.<br />

At the same time the chance arose to vacate the<br />

packaging area in the warehouse for specific<br />

soap packaging.<br />

This was the opportunity to rebuild the building<br />

and set up a larger and more modern laboratory.<br />


THE 1970s<br />

Construction of the first continuous lipolysis (tower splitting)<br />

The experimental and analytical requirements in<br />

this new laboratory adapted itself to the growing<br />

needs in product development – as an almost<br />

independent field within the company.<br />

Innovative products were developed and researched<br />

in the company and because this often<br />

involved new areas of application, there was<br />

mostly no experience here.<br />

Also, product control was developed further.<br />

During the manufacturing process, the intermediates,<br />

finally the finished products were accurately<br />

tested with different chemical and physical<br />

processes to ensure consistent quality. The Peter<br />

Greven Company was particularly well-regarded<br />

for its meticulous, ongoing quality assurance and<br />

thereby deserved its reputation as a supplier of<br />

quality products.<br />

On 12th March 1975 Elizabeth Greven, the senior<br />

partner dies at the age of 88.<br />

In 1975, the second major metallic soaps plant,<br />

working according to the direct method was put<br />

into operation. Thus, the company had a considerable<br />

capacity for efficient production of high<br />

quality stearate.<br />

In order to meet the rising demand for fatty acids,<br />

due to the ever growing metallic soaps production,<br />

it was decided to completely renew the<br />

fatty acid production.<br />

The enormous investment in the factory with fat<br />

splitting towers, distillation and hydrogenation<br />

plants for several million Marks was primarily<br />

funded from their own resources.<br />

The splitting tower continuously operating as<br />

a high pressure reactor since 1978 replaced the<br />


previously used splitting autoclave system which<br />

worked in batches and had a significantly lower<br />

performance level. In this, 48 tons of fat per day by<br />

adding water were continuously being split. During<br />

the splitting process besides the fatty acid,<br />

also glycerine water is obtained as a byproduct.<br />

The glycerine water was concentrated („evaporated“)<br />

and then through distillation and refining /<br />

bleaching reaches the final product quality. Glycerine<br />

is still an essential raw material for chemistry<br />

and is also used in many products for daily<br />

needs (e.g. in cosmetics as a humectant). The<br />

cleaved fatty acid was first distilled (to remove<br />

colour and odour compounds) and could then be<br />

used either as a distillate fatty acid in the soap<br />

area or was hydrogenated to stearic acid.<br />

Due to the manufacturing of its own fatty acids<br />

as a raw material for the production, independence<br />

from the commodity markets was developed.<br />

In addition, a consistent high quality raw<br />

material was achieved and guaranteed.<br />

For the constructive planning, the authorisation<br />

process and the establishment of the financial<br />

and technically very complex investment, two<br />

years were required.<br />

The rather complex infrastructure of the location<br />

is supplemented by the characteristics of the<br />

Erft to swell very quickly, as groundwater flow<br />

during intense rainfall. This is enhanced by the<br />

steady rise of mountains towards the Eifel, from<br />

where the water is pushed down. The situation<br />

Toilet soap production, bars of soap were cut from the soap strand here<br />

View of the soap press<br />


72<br />

Delivery and installation of a fatty acid distillation

THE 1970s<br />

improved radically, when in 1978, about eight<br />

kilometers above the company, in Eicherscheid,<br />

a rainwater retention basin with a volume of one<br />

million cubic meters was built.<br />

Determined by the river Erft on one side and the<br />

mountain on the other, spatial extensions were<br />

not possible. The only viable solution was the<br />

expansion of the industrial area over the Erft.<br />

The gardens that were there belonged to a large<br />

number of local residents. Until the mid-1970s,<br />

the Greven Company acquired these individual<br />

plots for the planned expansion.<br />

Another essential condition for building the extension<br />

of the fat processing was the relocation<br />

of the original soap factory, which was located<br />

on the premises where the new fatty acid plant<br />

should end up.<br />

A technical challenge was the piping installation,<br />

all parts had to be connected together and had<br />

to be heated even when cold and frosty, when<br />

73<br />

The company’s premises in the 1970s

Heinz & Günther Greven<br />

the fats are processed and pumped through the<br />

plant, the material needs to remain liquid.<br />

The hall for soap production was built on the<br />

other side of the Erft, the relocation of the soap<br />

production. They needed a storage tank to keep<br />

resources available in order to store intermediate<br />

and final products before they were loaded into<br />

tankers. Also, earlier no space had been available<br />

in the old company.<br />

A pipe bridge connected both operating parts for<br />

the transport of energy, raw materials and consumables.<br />

With the construction of a bridge over the Erft<br />

it enabled the company to have good transport<br />

connections from a second side. There was also<br />

the possibility to reach the company via the<br />

Bendenweg and the Peter-Greven-Straße.<br />


THE 1970s<br />

The first powder dispenser for<br />

hand cleaning powder<br />

LIGAFIX brochure from the 1970s<br />


THE 1980s<br />



In the 80s fundamental changes took place in<br />

the managerial structure of the company.<br />

In 1981, Ewald Beier – a very experienced and<br />

long-time employee received the authority to<br />

act as a (non-managing) director. Thereby, the<br />

first authorised representative outside the Greven<br />

family. He held joint procuration with the<br />

former sales manager Alfred Lachnit, who was a<br />

nephew of Günther and Heinz Greven.<br />

On 31st December 1984 Heinz Greven resigned<br />

as managing director of the company. But in the<br />

years that followed he still worked in the company<br />

in an advisory capacity.<br />

After the departure of his brother, Günther Greven<br />

had been sole director until 1986, until<br />

Ewald Beier was named as the commercial director.<br />

With Dr. Jochen Billecke there was also<br />

an experienced manager from the industry – he<br />

came from the Dalli-Werken – he was engaged<br />

as the technical director. The company management<br />

was completed by Alfred Lachnit .<br />

In addition to expanding and further automation<br />

of the fatty acid plants they also continued<br />

working on the development of the second business<br />

mainstay, industrial skin protection products,<br />

although the developments were much<br />

slower here and the production and sales volume<br />

couldn’t reach anything like the products of<br />

fat chemistry. Nevertheless, this was still a highly<br />

lucrative business because the products were<br />

View from the metallic soaps department to the splitting tower<br />

less exposed to fluctuating commodity prices<br />

and the broad product range brought some planning<br />

certainty.<br />

After the powder soap for heavy soiling of the<br />

hands, for which Greven also offered a dispenser<br />

system, liquid hand soaps and washing pastes<br />

were developed. The materials contained in the<br />

soap powder were not suitable for skin-friendly<br />

washing of the hands.<br />

The development and production of hand cleaning<br />

cream on the basis of friction elements<br />

equaled a revolution in industrial skin cleansing.<br />

It enabled efficient but gentle cleansing.<br />

A program with a variety of applications was also<br />

offered for the liquid soap dispensers.<br />

Ever more, bars of soap for everyday use disappeared<br />

in the industry. But it was still produced<br />

for the Ruhr Coal AG because they had no way<br />




IN THE 20 TH C<strong>EN</strong>TURY<br />

Until the 30s<br />

In the early days of industrialisation, most companies create<br />

their hand cleaners themselves. Until well into the<br />

30s, for example, soft soaps are mixed with sand, pumice<br />

powder or crushed feldspar for this purpose. The single<br />

criterion is quick and effective cleaning. Also, the first industrially-manufactured<br />

products follow this principle and<br />

use sand, pumice powder and feldspar as abrasives. Skin<br />

protection or care products are used at most on private<br />

initiative – there is no awareness of their necessity.<br />

In addition, bars of soap (toilet soap) are mainly used in the<br />

mining industry, where allocation is made on a person-byperson<br />

basis. In the middle of the 1930s, the cumulation<br />

of eczemas leads to the demand for soap-free products.<br />

New surfactant-based soap-free cleaning lotions come on<br />

the market.<br />

The 50s<br />

In the 50s, the idea of skin protection gains in popularity.<br />

In addition to cleaning agents, protection and care products<br />

are now used for the first time, to prevent occupa-<br />

tional dermatitis. Skin protection products are applied before<br />

and during work. Their purpose is to prevent the entry<br />

of potentially harmful substances into the skin. Hand care<br />

products are used after stressful work or cleaning. They<br />

compensate for the loss of moisture and fat, the skin is<br />

affected by being exposed to stress, water, detergents and<br />

degreasing agents. Unlike protection products that are intended<br />

to act as an external protective layer, care products<br />

penetrate into the skin.<br />

In the field of hand cleaning, the first dispensing systems<br />

allow for an effective and user-friendly application. They<br />

offer a decisive advantage, especially with regard to the<br />

hygienic conditions in damp washrooms. Since individual<br />

dosing from a closed dispenser prevents direct contact<br />

with the cleaning agent, germs can be reduced.<br />

The 60s<br />

In the 60s, the demand for less skin-irritating and gentle<br />

skin cleansers leads to an increased production of cleansing<br />

products without mineral-oil-based solvents. Instead,<br />

more skin-friendly solvents and surfactants are used. In<br />

the field of abrasives, wood powder replaces the former,<br />

highly-abrasive scrubbing agents. Wood powder is not<br />

only more skin friendly, it also does not clog the drains.<br />

However, in addition to the lower cleansing power, the<br />

disadvantages of wood powder are a high allergenic potential<br />

and severe restrictions for the formulation of skin<br />

cleansers due to the risk of microbial contamination and<br />

the swelling properties of wood.<br />

From the 60s, the variety of products in the field of protection<br />

and care products increases enormously. Reason<br />

for this great variety is the assumption that the effect of<br />

a product crucially depends on galenics. Therefore, a special<br />

product is provided for each area of application, whose<br />

carrier substances and excipients are adapted to exactly<br />


the harmful substances, the user comes into contact with<br />

during his work.<br />

The 70s<br />

Since the 70s, plastic scrubbing agents made of PE or PU<br />

become more and more established as an alternative to<br />

wood powder. They are characterised by simple processability<br />

without formulation restrictions, as well as by low<br />

abrasive effects, with a nevertheless good cleaning effect.<br />

Thanks to modern sewage treatment plants, their limited<br />

biodegradability does not pose a problem.<br />

The 90s<br />

From the 90s, the variety in the field of protection and care<br />

products decreases, after realizing that galenics are not<br />

crucial for the effect of a product. Emulsions break on the<br />

skin and their ingredients work together with the horny<br />

layer of the epidermis to provide protection. These findings<br />

make it possible to combine preparations for numerous<br />

application areas into a clearer product range. In addition,<br />

progress and increasing automation have changed<br />

the type and extent of occupational skin exposure. Extreme<br />

and constant stress on the skin, which was common<br />

in many professions in the 30s, is now only an exception.<br />

Pearls® (ASP): wax pearls made of hydrogenated castor<br />

oil, which are characterised by a soft, smooth surface.<br />

ASP do not support the cleaning process like conventional<br />

abrasives purely by mechanical abrasion, but primarily<br />

through their lipophilic surface structure, which is able to<br />

bind oily dirt particles.<br />

The 2010s<br />

Recent scientific research proves that free radicals play an<br />

important role in the formation of irritant and allergic contact<br />

dermatitis. In order to effectively counter aggressive<br />

oxygen radicals, ingredients with antioxidant properties<br />

are used. The patented flavonoid extract of reseda luteola<br />

(luteolin) reduces the risk of inflammation, which is caused<br />

by the formation of free radicals. The combination of luteolin<br />

with the body’s own antioxidants vitamin E and coenzyme<br />

Q10 is used exclusively by PGP in the innovative<br />

skin protection cream PROTEXSAN®.<br />

Natural scrubbing agents, such as walnut shell powder,<br />

take the increasingly important environmental aspect into<br />

account. Their production from renewable raw materials<br />

and their complete biodegradability play a crucial role in<br />

allowing the abrasives walnut shell powder and corncob<br />

meal to gain acceptance, even though they impose restrictions<br />

on the formulation of cleaning agents.<br />

Since 2007<br />

The demand for more skin-friendly products finally leads<br />

to the use of waxes as “dirt-removing agents”. Peter Greven<br />

Physioderm (PGP) develops the innovative Active Soft<br />


As it is as friendly to the environment as it is gentle to<br />

the user’s skin, in 2016, the cleansing lotion ECOSAN® is<br />

awarded the EU Ecolabel. In the following year, the product<br />

is the first rinse-off cosmetic product being awarded the<br />

prestigious BLUE ANGEL environmental label. A further<br />

step in the effort to create environmentally-friendly and<br />

ecologically-compatible products is the definite replacement<br />

of plastic abrasives (microplastics) by olive seed powder.<br />

The renewable raw material - which is a waste-product<br />

of olive-oil production - has some advantages, especially<br />

in comparison with other alternatives: good biodegradability<br />

and sufficient availability on the European market. In<br />

the following years, further skin cleansing products with<br />

and without abrasives are awarded the EU Ecolabel.<br />

The 2020s<br />

At the beginning of the decade, the rapidly spreading COV-<br />

ID 19 pandemic leads to shortages in the supply of disinfectants,<br />

which also affects PGP. However, those who want<br />

to protect themselves in their professional environment<br />

can do so without disinfectants - just by washing their<br />

hands regularly and correctly. This leads to unprecedented<br />

sales volumes and corresponding sales figures at PGP.<br />

Digitization in the prevention of occupational skin diseases<br />

is making progress in great strides. In addition to the introduction<br />

of an online tool for the creation of hand-care<br />

plans at the end of 2018, those responsible for skin care in<br />

companies are provided with a further online tool for skin<br />

care training in 2020. This means that training sessions no<br />

longer have to be held in person, but can be passed individually<br />

on a computer or mobile devices.<br />


Five years after the inauguration of the new logistics center,<br />

the production site in Euskirchen is further upgraded with<br />

a new extension at the end of 2020. The complex, which<br />

costs around two million euros and covers 825 square meters,<br />

houses laboratory as well as washing, changing and<br />

social rooms for the employees. The extension brings the<br />

development department - previously located at the headquarters<br />

of the Peter Greven Group in Bad Münstereifel -<br />

closer to the sales and production departments.<br />

Sustainability is a key aspect of the construction project.<br />

For example, a very powerful photovoltaic system with<br />

320 kWp (kilowatt peak) is setup on the roof of the existing<br />

part of the building. The system produces 289,000 kWh<br />

of electricity annually - equivalent to the average energy<br />

consumption of around 72 four-person households. Among<br />

other things, the electricity flows into 2 double charging<br />

stations so that electric and hybrid company vehicles can<br />

be charged in a completely CO2-neutral manner.<br />


THE 1980s<br />

Cleaning products alone were not enough for the<br />

industrial applications range. The range was extended<br />

to include numerous protection and care<br />

products.<br />

The administrative office in the late 1980s<br />

The mid-eighties a competent partner, the<br />

Penaten Company was found, with specific experience<br />

in the areas of skin protection and skin<br />

care. Penaten delivered two protective and two<br />

care products which Peter Greven could sell<br />

exclusively in the industrial sector. This ideally<br />

complemented the self-produced cleaners. The<br />

enormous popularity of the Penaten brand name<br />

was also very helpful in developing a good market<br />

position in skin protection and skin care.<br />

of working with dispenser systems underground.<br />

The Ruhr Coal AG received separate bars with<br />

their own stamp: RAG. Miners who worked above<br />

ground, received six bars of soap in cellophane<br />

for a week, the miners working underground<br />

received eleven bars. Quality Toilet soaps were<br />

also commissioned by some well-known brands,<br />

such as Fenjala and Eubos.<br />

The company supplied a wide range of customers<br />

the product range was designed deliberately<br />

in this way and expanded with custom-made developments.<br />

New technologies also entered the administration.<br />

Many transactions were still dealt with by<br />

telex. An order form was sent to the customer,<br />

which he/she then signed and returned.<br />

Although quite a few things were already done<br />

by fax, the authenticity of the documents was<br />

not considered safe as they darkened or the writing<br />

faded when using thermal paper.<br />

Initially, account cards with a magnetic strip were<br />

still used in the office. In about 1989 electronic<br />

data processing systems were increasingly being<br />

introduced into the Peter Greven Company.<br />


Range of toilet soaps in the 1980s<br />

Dispenser for hand cleaning cream in cans<br />

Bottling device for liquid and pasty hand cleaning agents<br />


THE 1980s<br />

Although some of the company departments<br />

were already working with computers and a<br />

central computer, an IBM/36-System. The first<br />

computer systems were set up in the commercial<br />

administration department. Gradually, each<br />

department had established its own data processing<br />

systems, as well as in the laboratory, for<br />

example.<br />

The conversion of the manually controlled systems<br />

to computerised processes in the production<br />

process characterises the 80s at Peter Greven.<br />

Modern technology in the 1980s<br />

In 1989 a fat purifier was built, in 1989/1990<br />

the metal working shop and social rooms were<br />

thoroughly renewed and planning began for a<br />

new central warehouse. The existing warehouse<br />

and logistics capacity was far from sufficient for<br />

the sharp rise in production output. That had to<br />

change.<br />

It began with the construction of a computerised<br />

high-bay warehouse. 3000 storage positions in<br />

various sizes were now available for a variety of<br />

packaging units - depending on the product, for<br />

example, on pallets, drums or sacks.<br />


The end of the 1980s planned central warehouse after completion<br />

Due to increasing quantities, many raw materials<br />

and products were now being transported<br />

in tankers and silo-vehicles and no longer as<br />

packed, palletised goods.<br />

Technical progress in the form of automation resulted<br />

between 1980 and 1989 in the construction<br />

of eight silos in the metallic soap department,<br />

the introduction of automatic packaging<br />

machines (1987/88), robotic palletising (1988)<br />

and an automatic film winding system, and the<br />

establishment of modern big-bag filling (1985<br />

to 1989) . Hence, the growing needs of the market<br />

and the increasing diversity and quantity of<br />

production were met. At the same time, the demand<br />

for packaging materials was considerably<br />

reduced, as well as the machining costs. For 20<br />

years this technique would perform a reliable<br />

service.<br />


86<br />

Peter Greven company brochures: In addition<br />

to metallic soaps, which have become<br />

the leading product segment, in the 1970s<br />

and 1980s an extensive program of cleaning<br />

agents was produced and distributed

THE 1990s<br />


The construction of silo-trailer filling equipment<br />

completed in 1992 to optimise the entire logistics<br />

of the company Peter Greven.<br />

At this time about 50 tons of metallic soaps in a<br />

continuous shift operation were being produced<br />

without the production volume from the dispersion<br />

system and powder mixtures. The metallic<br />

soaps processing plants produced on week days,<br />

in the shifts around the clock, and at the weekend,<br />

depending on orders.<br />

It didn’t take long for the splitting tower with a<br />

capacity of almost fifty tons daily could no longer<br />

sufficiently meet the continuous needs of the<br />

fatty acid production. In 1992, another plant was<br />

built with a daily processing capacity of 100 tons<br />

of tallow.<br />

More fatty acid and glycerol from the splitting<br />

required larger curing units, more powerful distillation<br />

plants and much more, for the increasing<br />

product amounts even more tank volume<br />

was needed. Complete processing lines had to<br />

be enlarged.<br />

View of the plant in the 1990s<br />


THE 1990s<br />

As one of the first companies in the industry, the<br />

family Peter Greven decided in 1992 to make the<br />

switch from conventional batch saponification to<br />

fully automatic continuous saponification.<br />

With the previous method, in which also a drum<br />

dryer was integrated, water repellents, de-inking<br />

soaps and soaps for the detergent industry were<br />

reliably and persistently produced, but not in sufficient<br />

quantities. So part deliveries were common.<br />

Since 1993, the fully automatic saponification<br />

continuously processed a mixture of fatty acid<br />

and suds. Up to twenty tons, around the clock,<br />

seven days a week could now be produced daily.<br />

The manufacture of bars of soap and liquid soaps<br />

looks back on a centuries-long tradition. The<br />

product knowledge, their production and raw<br />

materials was compiled at a time when it was still<br />

far away from the modern chemical industry with<br />

its current quality standards. It was so much more<br />

old craftsmanship. Soap making experts were responsible<br />

for the preparation of the soaps, they<br />

monitored their quality, and the craftsman’s techniques<br />

were utilised. Thus, the transparency and<br />

consistency of soft soap was assessed by spreading<br />

on glass plates. It was scrupulously paid attention<br />

to that during saponification not too<br />

much excess solution was used. This was done by<br />

so-called „tongue tapping” i.e., the soap making<br />

expert tasted the soap, and his trained tongue<br />

could perceive traces of excess water.<br />

The continuous saponification plant<br />

For each product there was a well-defined specification<br />

with standardised test methods. From<br />

now on, product clearance and quality management<br />

was centrally responsible and analyses<br />

were performed by trained laboratory technicians<br />

and tested according to these accepted<br />

test methods. This meant a huge change for<br />

many of the long-established soap makers and<br />

was initially met with skepticism. Here again employee<br />

flexibility is illustrated. In the end, the<br />

new methods and procedures were quickly and<br />

completely adopted.<br />

The extensive building work was financially well<br />

planned and implemented entirely without debt.<br />

Financial independence was important for the<br />

executive board and was only possible on the<br />

basis of sound economic management.<br />


The executive board to Günther Greven was<br />

supported from the other family members, who<br />

since 1955 (founding of the limited commercial<br />

partnership) as a general meeting and shareholders‘<br />

committee in the areas of investment<br />

and financing, co-determined the company’s financial<br />

investments.<br />

At the annual general meeting at that time, as<br />

today, there is also a family reunion, the balance<br />

sheets were discussed. Then the partners discussed<br />

proposals for the appropriation of profits.<br />

The need to release the generated money in a<br />

meaningful manner for further investment in the<br />

plant has been recognised and confirmed repeatedly<br />

by the shareholders to this day. Through this<br />

reinvestment of profits the company has generally<br />

been able to refrain from borrowing. Another<br />

important advantage of the structure of a family<br />

business over corporations was thus that longterm<br />

strategic planning was possible without<br />

having to worry that with a change of management<br />

the company‘s goals would be redefined.<br />

consistently high quality of the products from<br />

the beginning. Indeed, also the processing of<br />

customer orders and compliance with specific<br />

quality requirements was guaranteed, although<br />

a common quality standard was required.<br />

Therefore considerations started early to certify<br />

the quality management of the company in accordance<br />

with DIN ISO 9001.<br />

Such a system was not only new for the company<br />

but was not the norm for the production<br />

Heinz Greven dies on 24th December 1993 at the<br />

age of 77.<br />

At the beginning of the nineties the introduction<br />

of quality standards began, compliance with<br />

which was soon stipulated by the customer. At<br />

the Peter Greven Company, sophisticated, physical<br />

and chemical laboratory tests guaranteed a<br />

Heinz Greven, † 24. 12. 1993<br />




Since our products are based on renewable raw materials,<br />

they are a very popular choice for use as natural additives<br />

in all areas of manufacturing.<br />

Metallic soaps and esters make up the majority of our<br />

product portfolio. Metallic soaps in particular are highly<br />

versatile materials, often referred to as ‘all-rounders’ for<br />

this reason. In fact, many people are unaware that metallic<br />

soaps are found in many everyday objects – so we actually<br />

encounter them in various formats on a day-to-day basis.<br />

The most common areas of application for our metallic<br />

soaps and esters are as follows.<br />

1. Plastics<br />

Most of the applications for our products are to be found<br />

in plastics: more than 25% of our revenue is earned here,<br />

with the industry using our products in the manufacture<br />

and processing of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene<br />

(PP), polyethylene (PE), polystyrene foam/expanded polystyrene<br />

(EPS) and many other types of plastics.<br />

Metallic soaps are probably one of the most important<br />

stabilisers, as they not only offer outstanding stabilisation<br />

but are also characterised by their good lubricating properties.<br />

Accordingly, calcium and zinc stearates plus various<br />

esters are utilised as stabilisers and lubricants for many<br />

kinds of plastic mixtures.<br />


One example that can be mentioned here is the use of our<br />

products in PVC window frames.<br />

A window frame is manufactured by extruding a mixture<br />

made from PVC powder, impact modifiers, stabilisers, lubricants,<br />

pigments and fillers (such as chalks, quartz or<br />

limestone). The use of metallic soaps as special stabilisers<br />

protects the window frame from degradation as a result of<br />

exposure to heat or light, while using esters as lubricants<br />

not only simplifies processing work but also optimises the<br />

surface gloss and the surface finish of the final products.<br />

Our products therefore improve the stability and the surface<br />

gloss of your plastic window frames.<br />

Alongside the PVC window frames mentioned above, our<br />

products are also used in many other types of plastic mixtures,<br />

which our customers then use to make items such as<br />

drinking water and wastewater piping, CD sleeves, films,<br />

plastic boxes, salad bowls, mobile phones and medical<br />

products such as blood bags or syringes.<br />


2. Construction<br />

An exterior render is not only used to improve the appearance<br />

of a building but also protects it from sun, rain, snow<br />

and mould formation. To achieve this, the render must be<br />

hydrophobic:<br />

making a building material hydrophobic means ensuring<br />

it is moisture-repellent or at least less able to absorb water.<br />

This is where our products come into play: products<br />

we make such as sodium oleate, zinc stearate or special<br />

combined products achieve this water-repellent effect in a<br />

wide variety of construction materials.<br />

3. Lubricants<br />

Greases and lubricating oils are solid, semi-solid or liquid<br />

lubricants that are used to reduce friction and wear<br />

at bearing and contact points on the one hand, while also<br />

providing protection from corrosion, ensuring the dissipation<br />

of heat and removing unwanted particles from the<br />

friction point.<br />

The lubricant products are then used for the lubrication of<br />

chainsaws, machine parts like rolling and plain bearings,<br />

conveyor chains and cables, and gearboxes.<br />

Although mineral oil is one of the best-known lubricants,<br />


we have developed a range of synthetic esters as alternatives<br />

to mineral oil. These esters contain no solvents or<br />

mineral oils and therefore offer an environmentally friendly<br />

alternative for use as hydraulic fluids, gear oils, engine<br />

oils, corrosion inhibitors and metalworking fluids. All of<br />

our esters are based on naturally occurring, renewable<br />

raw materials. Furthermore, these esters offer significantly<br />

better properties than mineral oils in terms of lubrication,<br />

viscosity, low-temperature behaviour, volatility and biodegradability,<br />

and are therefore ideal as an environmentally<br />

friendly option.<br />


4. Pharmaceuticals<br />

For the pharmaceutical industry, the plant-based magnesium<br />

stearate from our production facility in Venlo is<br />

indispensable: magnesium stearate is present in (almost)<br />

every tablet that we swallow. The substance is used as<br />

a lubricant, making the tablets themselves more stable<br />

while also ensuring that the tablets are released from the<br />

mould more easily during manufacturing, thereby achieving<br />

a higher level of production output. We are the market<br />

leader in magnesium stearate and supply it to all major<br />

pharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide.<br />

5. Food and feed<br />

Plant-based stearates are also important additives for use<br />

in the food industry. Our magnesium stearate is used as<br />

a foaming agent and emulsifier in rusk and baking powder<br />

products, and as a lubricant for the tabletisation of<br />

pressed confectionary such as peppermint drops or glu-<br />


cose tablets. Calcium stearate is similarly used as an emulsifier<br />

and lubricant for almost every boiled sweet.<br />

Our stearates are also used as flow additives to make<br />

powdered food products such as spices easier to fill. They<br />

make these products easier to fill into small packaging<br />

units while also extending the product shelf life.<br />

Alongside magnesium and calcium stearate, sodium stearate<br />

also plays an important role in the food industry, offering<br />

excellent properties as a coating agent, emulsifier,<br />

anti-caking or gelling agent, and is used in chewing gum<br />

base materials and baking aids, for example.<br />

In the animal feed industry, sodium stearate is also used<br />

to improve flowability, so as to ensure that chicken feed<br />

(for example) does not clump together during production.<br />


6. Cosmetics<br />

Whether the sun is shining or it’s snowing outside, the use<br />

of our aluminium stearate in creams such as the famous<br />

Nivea cream in the blue tin ensures that these products<br />

retain their desired consistency. We have been the primary<br />

supplier of aluminium stearate to global cosmetic groups<br />

such as Beiersdorf for many years now.<br />

Nor is aluminium stearate the only product used in the cosmetics<br />

industry.<br />

Thanks to its outstanding gelling properties, sodium stearate<br />

is used in the production of deodorant sticks, while<br />

zinc stearate is indispensable for make-up, being used in<br />

powders, mascaras and eyeshadows as a water-repellent<br />

and protective agent.<br />

These are, in a nutshell, the most important applications<br />

in which our products are used. Thanks to their natural,<br />

environmentally friendly origin and their special product<br />

properties, our products are also a very popular choice as<br />

additives for use in many other areas of manufacturing,<br />

such as in paints and varnishes, textiles or seed and fertilisers.<br />

And new applications are constantly being discovered<br />

for our ‘all-rounders’.<br />


The Executive Board in 1999: Ewald Beier, Günther Greven, Peter Greven, Alfred Lachnit (left to right)<br />

and management of small and medium-sized<br />

businesses in the chemical industry to undergo<br />

such certification.<br />

In 1994, system structures and standardised control<br />

mechanisms were introduced at Peter Greven<br />

Fett-Chemie in Iversheim. Of these, not only<br />

the laboratory and production were affected, but<br />

all departments, including purchasing and sales<br />

now had to act according to established work<br />

instructions. This also gave the Peter Greven<br />

Company an advantage over competitors that<br />

had not yet implemented this. Soon, many buyers<br />

only accepted suppliers who could show appropriate<br />

certification.<br />


Through further production mechanisation the<br />

employees job requirements changed quite considerably.<br />

Now, among others, skilled chemical workers<br />

with adequate training were needed, a trained<br />

non-specialist employee was no longer sufficient<br />

to control the complicated production processes.<br />

Also, at the beginning of the nineties another<br />

company tradition continued - the third generation<br />

of the family joined the management team.<br />

Peter Greven, born in 1966, took on the position<br />

of executive assistant in Iversheim, directly after<br />

successfully completing his studies of Business<br />

Administration in Cologne.<br />

Peter Greven was one of the first medium-sized companies<br />

to receive certification according to DIN ISO 9001<br />

He was familiar with the company as an intern<br />

and later worked there as a student. Peter Greven<br />

was thus well acquainted with all operations<br />

and, like his father and uncle before him, grew<br />

into the company.<br />

Soon, he had acquired extensive knowledge in<br />

product chemistry, marketing and sales. Thanks<br />

to his keen technical interest and with the help<br />

of experienced staff he acquired within a short<br />

time, among other things, much knowledge in<br />

application engineering which was advantageous<br />

with the work with large customers.<br />


THE 1990s<br />

In 1993 Peter Greven became the managing director<br />

of Peter Greven Fett-Chemie GmbH & Co<br />

KG.<br />

By mutual agreement, the technical director Dr.<br />

Jochen Billecke retires from the company on 31st<br />

December 1994. After which, in the following<br />

years, the senior management consists of the<br />

two managing partners Günther and Peter Greven,<br />

a second CEO Ewald Beier and the authorised<br />

representative Alfred Lachnit.<br />

On an open day, two large halls on the premises<br />

were cleared out and a stage and seating were<br />

constructed. All the employees and visitors were<br />

able to help themselves to food and drink at the<br />

many stalls.<br />

In 1996, a further step towards computer-assisted<br />

processing of operations took place, with the introduction<br />

of the electronic order processing and<br />

production planning systems ProPlan and Pro-<br />

Store. Orders could now be completely tracked<br />

from their intake to production planning, warehouse<br />

management, batch tracking and posting.<br />

Every amount supplied to customers could now<br />

be assigned easily and clearly to the production<br />

batch and could be safely traced back to the raw<br />

materials. Even closer networking of all departments<br />

of the company was created.<br />

In 1998, 75 years of Peter Greven in Iversheim<br />

was celebrated in style with local residents, interested<br />

parties, and business associates. Similarly,<br />

the 80 year history of the company was<br />

celebrated five years later.<br />

Peter Greven<br />


Dr. Ingo Wolf, at the time Chief Administrative Officer, later Minister of the Interior<br />

NRW, presents Günther Greven with an application for a licence on the 75th company<br />

anniversary<br />

The company celebrations, organised since 1999<br />

are another contribution to the healthy work environment:<br />

Always alternating between a family<br />

festival with football tournaments for all employees<br />

and their family members held at the<br />

Iversheimer sports field one year and a festival<br />

held for the annual closure in the next.<br />

After several failed attempts to integrate external<br />

executives from other companies, there was<br />

a change of ideas, in which young people were<br />

sought out, straight from university or professionals<br />

who were looking for their second position<br />

were brought to the company.<br />

Hildegund Greven, Alfred Lachnit and Günther Greven<br />

For the first time, in 1999 three chemical technicians<br />

began their apprenticeships. Since then,<br />

many different professional groups, such as<br />

industrial clerks, mechatronic technicians, industrial<br />

mechanics, chemical technicians, electronics<br />

technicians, laboratory assistants and<br />

specialists in warehouse management have been<br />

trained, together with the Rhein- Erft Academy,<br />

which takes over part of the practical training,<br />

where excellent results are achieved. Thus, trainees<br />

from the company Peter Greven are already<br />

the best in Germany.<br />


Boiling plant<br />

viewed from the<br />

river Erft<br />


THE 2000s<br />


The transition into a new millennium was associated<br />

with global speculation about possible<br />

problems, especially concerning computer-controlled<br />

processes. Thanks to good preparation<br />

and monitoring of all processes the new millennium<br />

proved to cause no problems at Peter Greven,<br />

as with most companies.<br />

The protection of people and the environment<br />

was for the Peter Greven Company, since its inception,<br />

a natural part of the work.<br />

With considerable expertise and decades of experience,<br />

safety precautions have been established,<br />

which alongside regular security analyses should<br />

exclude danger to employees and the neighborhood.<br />

The location of the facility in the scenic surroundings<br />

and proximity to the spa town of Bad Münstereifel<br />

were the natural requirement for effective<br />

safety and environmental management.<br />

The environmental management system was certified<br />

in 2000 according to DIN 14001 ISO, which<br />

regulates the standards regarding the use of the<br />

environment and its resources.<br />

The environmental certification was essential as<br />

was the implementation of quality standards according<br />

to DIN ISO 9001 at the beginning of the<br />

nineties, in order to demonstrate, at any time and<br />

without doubt, the company expertise to the customer.<br />

For many customers, this was a necessary<br />

condition in order to survive as a supplier.<br />

The environmental management system for all<br />

processes in the technical operation and the<br />

production is very extensive, with monitoring of<br />

about fifty individual plants and their linkages.<br />

Around the clock, seven days a week high temperatures<br />

and high pressure are in operation.<br />

Dust-like emissions, effluents, technical parameters<br />

- everything must be checked and recorded.<br />

With respect to the authorities, they must be<br />

shown at all times that the allowable values are<br />

observed.<br />

A closely networked monitoring system checks<br />

all parts of the given parameters, and records the<br />

measurement data. For each plant, a process control<br />

system registers all the essential parameters<br />

of the technical operation as a visual system. At<br />

the same time it functions as a control system. All<br />

important data - such as temperature, pressure<br />

or flow rates - are available to the operator to<br />

ensure a trouble-free production process.<br />

Completely unexpectedly Alfred Lachnit, who<br />

had for decades led the sales department, and<br />

had excellent contacts with all major customers,<br />

died in 2000 at the age of 59. Mr. Lachnit was also<br />

a member of the executive board, and as a member<br />

of the family also a shareholder. His sudden<br />

death left a big gap that could only gradually be<br />

filled by internal personnel.<br />


THE 2000s<br />

Alfred Lachnit, † 02.03.2000<br />

Mr. Werner Heiliger joins the company in 1999<br />

and works as head of controlling and financial<br />

accounting. On 26th July 2000 he is given procuration,<br />

and at the same time joins the executive<br />

board.<br />

The new decade should be characterised by expansion<br />

and transformation of the company. The<br />

current strategy was no longer limited to the expansion<br />

or upgrading at the traditional location.<br />

An additional aim, internationalisation of the<br />

company was now defined, which also required<br />

building new sites.<br />

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) hit the<br />

headlines in the late 1990s as „mad cow disease“<br />

and was a much-debated public issue. The reason<br />

was mainly the assumption that a new variant of<br />

the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease caused BSE<br />

when humans ate infected beef.<br />

The domestic cattle prions, atypical proteins<br />

were blamed for the disease, and as a processor<br />

of beef tallow, Peter Greven also received many<br />

inquiries and visits from concerned customers.<br />

For the protection of consumers against this<br />

pathogen in the soap, the company published a<br />

double strategy: The company had to prove that<br />

the raw materials were derived from BSE-free<br />

cattle. Moreover, that if any pathogens were present<br />

that they were killed during the processing<br />

of beef tallow, under high temperatures and high<br />

pressure.<br />

But even if it was proved that no pathogen could<br />

survive the production process in Bad Münstereifel,<br />

many customers only wanted products<br />

from plant materials.<br />

For this, product manufacturing vegetable fatty acids<br />

from a palm oil base from Asia were used. But<br />

the questions and discussions didn’t end here. Because,<br />

what if the installation had previously produced<br />

a technical product made from animal fatty<br />

acid: How often was the plant cleaned? How many<br />

anticipated batches run that are not delivered?<br />


Production site in Venlo, NL<br />

Preparation area: Production in Venlo takes place under<br />

GMP conditions in strictly separated production plants<br />


THE 2000s<br />

Assembly of a new storage tank for fatty acid<br />

This connection revealed how important it was<br />

for certain customer groups and sales regions to<br />

have access to products from pure vegetable production.<br />

Peter Greven Fettchemie recognised the<br />

new needs as a promising new segment for the<br />

product portfolio.<br />

The first step was taken in the year 2000, when<br />

Peter Greven took the opportunity to take over<br />

operation of Akros Chemicals, a subsidiary of<br />

Akzo in Venlo (NL).<br />

Contrary to Bad Münstereifel where largely animal<br />

raw materials were processed which did not<br />

meet the quality requirements of several industries,<br />

production in this concern was based exclusively<br />

on vegetable raw materials. This was<br />

the perfect complement to the existing product<br />

range. The acquisition of new customers in previously<br />

inaccessible sectors, such as the pharmaceutical<br />

industry, was now made possible. The<br />

site also had logistical advantages for the purchase<br />

of raw materials and the shipment of the<br />

products due to its proximity to Rotterdam and<br />

Antwerp.<br />

Another argument for the take-over decision was<br />

the fact that the plant in Venlo which was integrated<br />

in the company group under the name<br />

Peter Greven Nederland CV was not too far from<br />

the main operation and could thus be easily controlled.<br />

With this site, Peter Greven is the world‘s leading<br />

manufacturer of vegetable magnesium stearate<br />

for the pharmaceutical industry. Its production<br />

according to Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations<br />

(GMP), serves as the basis for use in the<br />

pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industry. The<br />

product is used in the pressing of tablets, so that<br />

the tablet can be easily and quickly removed<br />

from the mould after pressing.<br />

A spin-off of processing exclusively vegetable<br />

fatty acids also opened the opportunity to develop<br />

critical markets because the products can<br />


e prepared in kosher quality. This is guaranteed<br />

by closed and separated production lines.<br />

This seal of quality has developed far beyond<br />

the religious aspect, a production standard for<br />

sensitive applications and thus a sales angle has<br />

developed.<br />

Parallel, at its headquarters in Bad Münstereifel<br />

reorganisation of the industrial skin protection<br />

business followed. The „Chemical Factory Iversheim“<br />

was renamed Peter Greven Hautschutz<br />

GmbH & Co. KG.<br />

In recent years, in addition to the demand for effective,<br />

affordable skin care products for industry,<br />

the health factor has increasingly become a<br />

strong influence factor. Occupational physicians<br />

and legislator developed skin protection programs<br />

for industrial enterprises. Skin protection<br />

plans where the use of products for each occupational<br />

group was exactly stipulated had to be<br />

created in collaboration with the customer.<br />

The operation of these two independent divisions<br />

was very demanding and there were even<br />

thoughts of separating from the skin cleaning<br />

business and focusing on oleochemicals.<br />

Restructuring, combined with massive conversions<br />

to the site, with the latest introduction of<br />

GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), which had<br />

also become necessary in this area, as the production<br />

plants were spatially very close to the<br />

plants for technical soaps. Modern requirements<br />

Dr. Manfred Matzel, Mayor Dr. Uwe Friedl and Peter Greven at the groundbreaking<br />

ceremony of Peter Greven Hautschutz GmbH & Co. KG in Euskirchen 2005<br />


THE 2000s<br />

for cosmetic products can hardly be met in an<br />

environment for chemical plants. Finally, the option<br />

of selling the business was rejected.<br />

Not least because as a mainstay in the course of<br />

the company history, it had always had relatively<br />

secure and predictable sales and earnings with<br />

which one did not want to do without.<br />

With an external consultant who was well versed<br />

in the industry through his previous work with<br />

a leading competitor, different strategies were<br />

evaluated. Finally, it was decided to completely<br />

re- establish the business as a separate unit and<br />

align for growth.<br />

This strategic course of action was a big step -<br />

and quite new for the company which had developed<br />

over decades, its development policy had<br />

been the step by step approach.<br />

Based on the positive and constructive cooperation<br />

and experience in this segment, the external<br />

consultant, Dr. Manfred Matzel was hired as<br />

managing director for skin protection to implement<br />

the jointly developed strategy.<br />

Restructuring also involved a change of location:<br />

The new line of business Peter Greven GmbH &<br />

Co KG was located in in an industrial area in Euskirchen,<br />

a nearby district town. A 16,000 square<br />

meter plot of land with a hall was purchased<br />

here, and completed with an extension to create,<br />

from the beginning sufficient space for planned<br />

expansion. After establishment of a new plant<br />

in 2006, the skin protection and skin care range<br />

was completely outsourced to Euskirchen. Meanwhile,<br />

35 people worked there and many new<br />

jobs were created.<br />

The economic situation forced other chemical<br />

companies to separate business areas. Peter<br />

Greven continued to expand and in 2005 took<br />

over the stearate business from the Total-Atofina<br />

company, a subsidiary of Ceca, a company in<br />

France.<br />

The sales volume could be integrated into the<br />

Bad Münstereifel production without having to<br />

take over the production in France. Ceca had decided<br />

to close the facility for safety reasons, so<br />

Peter Greven took over the list of customers, formulations<br />

and product manufacturing specifications<br />

and established a sales company in France.<br />

Through the acquisition, the product range was<br />

extended to include some specialties and the<br />

customer base was expanded. Peter Greven also<br />

strengthened its market position as a leading<br />

manufacturer of metallic soaps in Europe.<br />

Just a short time later Peter Greven Hautschutz’s<br />

first takeover was pending: In 2006 the sales of<br />

hand washing pastes from (Lordin and Cewipa), a<br />

competitor company was taken over and it generated<br />

considerable sales growth in skin protection.<br />

The additional revenue was very helpful to<br />

bear the higher costs of the new location.<br />

Gunther Greven was open to the work of the<br />

next generation, and contributed his thoughts<br />

and opinions, and took significant positions in<br />


Administration building and production for occupational skin care products<br />

the discussion. He sat on the shareholders‘ committee<br />

where he had an effect on major decision<br />

making. He also expressed concern when he had<br />

misgivings, and fought for his convictions when<br />

he did not agree with something.<br />

His experience contributed in making many upcoming<br />

decisions, to think through a process<br />

again and if applicable to clear one or the other<br />

problem out of the way.<br />

Like his brother Heinz, Günther Greven never really<br />

retired.<br />

Even at the age of 84 Günther appeared at the<br />

plant daily for four to five hours. Later, he always<br />

called on Fridays, when he requested a report of<br />

the orders on hand and asked, „How‘s it looking?<br />

Do we have enough to do? „<br />

In the old family business tradition Heinz and<br />

Günther Greven were familiar with the entire<br />

company, as it had also been with their father<br />

Peter Greven.<br />

Peter Greven had inherited this, because knowledge<br />

of these details is important for many business<br />

decisions.<br />


THE 2000s<br />

On 28th May 2006 Günther Greven dies at the<br />

age of 87.<br />

In September 2007, the Peter Greven Company<br />

had to cope with damage due to flooding,<br />

amounting to several hundred thousand euros.<br />

Also in 2007, Peter Greven founded the joint venture<br />

Peter Greven Asia, based in Penang / Malaysia,<br />

one of the leading palm oil and fatty acid<br />

producers.<br />

The cooperation of these two market leaders<br />

aimed to position itself in the next few years as<br />

one of the leading metallic soap suppliers in Asia.<br />

The main markets for the joint venture, in addition<br />

to Asian countries such as China, India, Japan,<br />

Korea and Taiwan were also the Middle East<br />

and the United States.<br />

The location of Malaysia offered several advantages<br />

in Asia. Firstly, Malaysia, along with Indonesia,<br />

is the world‘s largest producer of palm oil,<br />

fatty acid production in Malaysia is the largest<br />

in the world. This means that the supply of raw<br />

materials is very good. Malaysia is also a good<br />

location to supply the growing markets in Asia.<br />

Finally, Peter Greven and IOI agreed on a joint<br />

venture in which Peter Greven holds a 60 % stake<br />

and IOI holds 40 %. Peter Greven is responsible<br />

for the management and the production and distribution<br />

in Malaysia. IOI provides the main raw<br />

materials (fatty acids) and also provides services<br />

such as energy supplies but also IT and HR services.<br />

Peter Greven congratulates Ewald Beier to his 50th jubilee<br />

Again here, a company that was involved in the<br />

organisational structure of a large company had<br />

to be reorganised so that it smoothly blended<br />

into the structures of the medium-sized family<br />

business. Although, from the beginning it was<br />

clear that this would be no easy task, at least<br />

with the onset of the economic crisis and the<br />

rise of the Asian markets, it became clear just<br />

how important this project was for the future of<br />

Peter Greven. Despite, repeatedly occurring setbacks<br />

in the first two years and serious problems,<br />


Günther Greven, † 28.5.2006<br />

production was more than doubled in just three<br />

years. With the medium-sized company typical<br />

lean management structure this was only possible<br />

when the work was shared out and again<br />

support from Germany and Holland, was also<br />

achieved on site. Good cooperation between the<br />

individual plants was always essential.<br />

On 30th June 2008, after 30 years of service and<br />

many years as an authorised signatory and commercial<br />

director, Mr. Beier Erwald retires from the<br />

company. Flooding in September 2007<br />


THE 2000s<br />

In mid-2008, an opportunity arose to make further<br />

acquisitions in the skin protective field: Peter<br />

Greven Hautschutz was able to take over the<br />

industrial area of skin protection with the brands<br />

Physioderm and Faweco from the medium-sized<br />

company Wöllner. The business was incorporated<br />

in Euskirchen as far as possible. Production<br />

had to be expanded here because this acquisition<br />

represented about 70 percent of the existing<br />

business volume. Due to its outstanding importance<br />

it was also renamed Peter Greven Physioderm<br />

GmbH.<br />

After many years as a laboratory, quality and<br />

development manager, in August 2009, Dr.<br />

Hermann Josef Stolz is transferred to the head<br />

of production and development. At the same<br />

time he becomes a new member of the executive<br />

board.<br />


Joint-venture production plant in Penang, Malaysia<br />


THE 2010s<br />

COMPANY’S DEVELOPM<strong>EN</strong>T INTO THE US<br />

On 31st December 2011, Dr. Manfred Matzel, CEO<br />

of Peter Greven Physioderm GmbH, leaves the<br />

company and becomes self-employed.<br />

The Executive Board of the Peter Greven Group<br />

now consists of Peter Greven, Werner Heiliger<br />

and Dr. Hermann Josef Stolz.<br />

The start of a new decade in the company‘s history<br />

was hit by two major decisions, for Bad Münstereifel<br />

as a company location, as well as for the<br />

further claim as market leader in the oleochemicals<br />

field.<br />

During the review and development of the location<br />

concept for Bad Münstereifel it became<br />

apparent that meaningful areas of expansion for<br />

production plants with reserved areas, could, in<br />

the medium term, be moved to another location.<br />

This resulted in the first measure, relocation of<br />

the laboratory, all social areas and the administration<br />

building on the hillside above the current<br />

administration building in the area from the<br />

1900s development plans.<br />

The Peter Greven Group Executive Board 2013: Left to right: Dr. Hermann Josef Stolz, Peter Greven and<br />

Werner Heiliger<br />


The plant in Bad Münstereifel with the newly built administrative, laboratory and social area in the foreground, to<br />

the right, and the new esterification building in the middle of the plant.<br />

After the start of development work at the end<br />

of 2011, the administration department moved<br />

to the ultra-modern equipped premises in mid-<br />

2013. The laboratory moved end of 2013 where<br />

it could take on new challenges with its hightech<br />

equipment and larger development department.<br />

With the demolition of the old administration<br />

building, from which the company fortunes were<br />

directed for over 80 years, the course was set for<br />

a lift tower to connect the production site to the<br />

new administration department, laboratory and<br />

social building tract.<br />


The old administration building before and during demolition

2010ER JAHRE<br />

In 2016, the wash lotion ECOSAN® was awarded<br />

the EU ecolabel for protecting the environment<br />

just as well as the skin of its users. In the following<br />

year, the product was also the first wash-off<br />

cosmetic product to be awarded the prestigious<br />

BLUE ANGEL German ecolabel.<br />

Another step in efforts to produce environmentally<br />

friendly and ecologically compatible products<br />

was the substitution of olive stone flour<br />

for (micro)plastic exfoliants. This renewable raw<br />

material, produced during the manufacture of<br />

olive oil, has particular advantages when compared<br />

with other alternatives – namely good<br />

biodegradability and sufficient availability within<br />

Europe. In the following years, various skin<br />

cleansing products with and without exfoliants<br />

were awarded the EU ecolabel.<br />

DP-Plant Venlo<br />

We set ourselves the long-term strategic target of<br />

establishing fatty acid esters as our second major<br />

business segment alongside metallic soaps.<br />

To make this growth possible for our esters segment,<br />

we began construction of a new production<br />

facility in February 2012. With a height of<br />

34 m, only the fat splitting tower was taller than<br />

this facility at the time of its completion.<br />

Peter Greven Physioderm GmbH began trading<br />

under a new, independent logo in 2013.<br />

The successes of this year were then unfortunately<br />

overshadowed by the most serious industrial<br />

incident in the company’s history. In March,<br />


The construction of another new warehouse was<br />

completed in July 2015 to accommodate the continually<br />

increasing production volumes at Peter<br />

Greven Physioderm GmbH. Optimisation of the<br />

overall logistics infrastructure made significant<br />

efficiency gains possible in the work processes<br />

used to date, ensuring that we were best-placed<br />

to enjoy further growth.<br />

The newly built production facility for esters<br />

a serious accident occurred at our subsidiary Peter<br />

Greven Asia in Malaysia, brought about by an<br />

explosion and subsequent fire, which also tragically<br />

claimed the lives of three of our employees.<br />

We have provided further information about this<br />

incident in a focus article.<br />

In May 2013, we started production at the recently<br />

completed DP (direct process) plant at<br />

Peter Greven Nederland C.V., which represents a<br />

significant expansion of our production capacities<br />

for metallic soaps at the Venlo site. Compared<br />

with earlier facilities using the precipitation<br />

process, this technology offers considerably<br />

higher output and efficiency. The products produced<br />

at the new plant are primarily intended<br />

for the food and feed sector. We describe the<br />

different production processes used in our focus<br />

article ‘Soaps and metallic soaps’.<br />

The development of new products, research into<br />

additional areas of application and optimum<br />

adaptation to the requirements of our customers<br />

have always been the key drivers behind our<br />

overall entrepreneurial success. In Bad Münstereifel,<br />

for example, we had long planned to<br />

build a Technical Centre capable of handling<br />

scaled-down versions of almost all of our production<br />

processes. Construction and commissioning<br />

of the Centre was ultimately completed<br />

Warehouse at Peter Greven Physioderm<br />




On 25 March 2013, a serious accident unfortunately occurred<br />

at our subsidiary Peter Greven Asia on its company<br />

premises in Penang, Malaysia.<br />

also meant procuring all of the main facility components<br />

within Europe.<br />

A dust explosion and subsequent fire caused the destruction<br />

of a large part of the production facilities. Far worse<br />

than this was the fact that three of our employees died of<br />

the burn injuries they suffered during the fire, with two<br />

other employees also being very seriously injured.<br />

We could not have imagined that an accident of this magnitude<br />

was possible at our company. Everyone in the Group<br />

was deeply shocked and affected by the accident, with<br />

many coming forward to offer their support and help.<br />

Despite this tragic event, however, decisions had to be<br />

made about rebuilding the production facility to continue<br />

our Asian business – and always with the aim and intention<br />

of moving on from this difficult situation by establishing<br />

new premises that could be even safer and more<br />

productive.<br />

After visiting the Penang facility, it was also clear that we<br />

needed to provide both the site and the local team with<br />

a vision for the future. While not always an easy task, we<br />

also needed a plan for the facility after an analysis of the<br />

events leading up to the accident. First of all, however, we<br />

had to wait for local authorities to complete their investigations<br />

and issue the facility with a new permit.<br />

Our ambitious goals for the new site not only included the<br />

very latest technology while ensuring the highest level of<br />

safety, but also aimed to accommodate quality requirements<br />

from the local markets. However, in consideration<br />

of explosion safety standards among other aspects, this<br />


Thanks to the outstanding dedication shown by everybody<br />

involved, the first production systems restarted operation<br />

as early as the second half of 2013. Work on the remaining<br />

systems would continue well into 2014.<br />

As part of the reopening ceremonies, to which company<br />

directors Peter Greven and Hermann Josef Stolz had also<br />

been invited, a tour of the new premises revealed the impressive<br />

results of the reconstruction project. Not only the<br />

clearly laid out and perfectly maintained facilities themselves<br />

but also the highly functional and user-friendly process<br />

control system were praised by the two executives<br />

during their visit.<br />

After the tragic and shocking events, the facility reopening<br />

ceremony was an important milestone that left a lasting<br />

impression on project participants, guests and employees<br />

alike.<br />

Yet this marked only the beginning of the work at the new<br />

site. In the months following the reopening, process optimisation<br />

was scheduled, as well as work on adjusting<br />

products to the new technology. Customers also needed<br />

to be reacquired and new sales markets explored.<br />

Given the success of these endeavours, one could then be<br />

quietly confident about prospects for the site.<br />

Following this terrible accident, the entire management<br />

team had declared their commitment to doing everything<br />

possible to ensure that such an incident could never be<br />

repeated.<br />


Technical test facility<br />

Dismantling of fatty acid production<br />

by mid-year 2016. As a result, new production<br />

processes, product optimisations or the introduction<br />

of new raw materials can all be tested at<br />

a smaller scale before being transferred to largescale<br />

production.<br />

When founder Peter Greven decided to ensure<br />

the security of supply for raw materials by building<br />

an independent fatty acid production facility<br />

in the 1930s, this was certainly a milestone in<br />

the company’s history and a very forward-looking<br />

investment. Almost 80 years later, however,<br />

production here was considered no longer costeffective<br />

compared with external procurement.<br />

The latter also offered a choice of raw materials<br />

and greater use of plant-based fatty acids compared<br />

with the fatty acids based on raw materials<br />

of animal origin primarily produced to date.<br />

The company executive therefore made the decision<br />

to cease internal fatty acid production and<br />

dismantle the corresponding parts of the facility.<br />

One of the biggest challenges here was keeping<br />

the disruption to ongoing processes caused by<br />

this large-scale project to a minimum. Dismantling<br />

work started in early 2017 and was completed<br />

by the end of the year, thereby bringing to<br />

an end the era of fatty acid production.<br />

Ten years after the formation of the Peter Greven<br />

Asia joint venture, another important step was<br />

taken towards the internationalisation of our<br />

Group. Effective 30 September 2017, we acquired<br />

the additives segment of the North American<br />

Norac Inc., which was then restructured and integrated<br />

into the Peter Greven Group as Norac<br />

Additives LLC. Norac is one of the leading manufacturers<br />

of metallic soaps and plastics additives<br />

in the USA, and is a specialist in PVC. The attractive<br />

North American market, offering major<br />

potential and good opportunities for growth,<br />

perfectly complements our existing portfolio,<br />

especially in the fields of metallic soaps and esters.<br />

“Our acquisition offers many synergistic benefits<br />

between Norac and Peter Greven within the<br />

Group, not least from mutual knowledge transfer<br />

between the various departments, such as<br />

Procurement, Product Development, Applications<br />

Engineering and Sales. We are convinced<br />

that the acquisition and integration of Norac will<br />


2010ER JAHRE<br />

create significant value for the entire company,<br />

and will also improve our international position<br />

by establishing it on a broader and more stable<br />

foundation,” said Managing Director Peter Greven,<br />

commenting on the purchase decision.<br />

At Peter Greven Asia, the expansion and enlargement<br />

of our international sites continued with<br />

the construction of a new office building and<br />

warehouse. At the inauguration ceremony, it was<br />

possible to look back on 12 years of successful<br />

collaboration between the joint venture partners.<br />

In December 2019, when the first reports of a novel<br />

virus started coming out of China, few people<br />

would have predicted that this would have such<br />

far-reaching consequences. Our day-to-day lives<br />

then became focused on infection trends, crowded<br />

hospitals, shop closures, contact restrictions<br />

and the shuttering of entire commercial production<br />

sectors. The Peter Greven Group was also<br />

affected by the strict organisational measures<br />

imposed. WFH and quarantine became new buzzwords<br />

in our day-to-day business. Keeping business<br />

operations going was one of the goals of all<br />

of the measures that were implemented, which<br />

affected all of the Group’s sites. Sales downturns<br />

and raw materials scarcity were just some of the<br />

challenges needing to be managed, with future<br />

developments virtually unpredictable.<br />

Norac Additives<br />

Administration and warehouse at Peter Greven Asia<br />


2010ER JAHRE<br />

Business was brisk, however, in the professional<br />

skin protection segment at Peter Greven Physioderm<br />

in Euskirchen, with demand for cleaning<br />

agents and disinfectants skyrocketing. Managing<br />

Director Werner Heiliger: “Recent events have<br />

again demonstrated the importance of diversification<br />

for our Group, not only in terms of applications<br />

for our products but also in terms of<br />

geographic distribution. This gives us the kind of<br />

stability that we need to survive such a crisis.”<br />

Investment continued despite the ongoing pandemic.<br />

In Bad Münstereifel, for example, a lack of<br />

storage facilities had meant that finished products<br />

occasionally had to be split up between six<br />

different external warehouses. This created a<br />

huge amount of extra work for the dispatching<br />

and handling teams. The construction of a new<br />

Dispatch and Logistics Centre in nearby Mechernich-Obergartzem,<br />

which was completed jointly<br />

with our logistics partner, aimed to streamline<br />

our shipping and storage infrastructure while<br />

also reducing complexity. Fitted out with the<br />

very latest communications and data acquisition<br />

systems, the Centre was another key milestone<br />

in our capacity expansion strategy.<br />

Range of disinfection products from Peter Greven Physioderm<br />


Dispatch and Logistics Center Mechernich-Obergartzem<br />




Humans have been using esters for many hundreds of years.<br />

Chemically speaking, traditional natural oils and greases<br />

like lard or olive oil are triglycerides and also members<br />

of the ester group. In former times, only these naturally<br />

occurring esters were used – primarily in food products<br />

but also in a number of simple technical lubrication applications.<br />

Today, a large number of industrially synthesised<br />

ester products are used in many areas of manufacturing.<br />

Two key areas where esters are used are as lubricants in<br />

the manufacture of plastics, for example, or as a base oil<br />

for biodegradable lubricants.<br />

Raw materials<br />

As is the case for the production of soaps and metallic<br />

soaps (see page 58–61, ‘FOCUS ON soaps and metallic<br />

soaps’ ), fatty acids are the main raw material used for<br />

esters: they are obtained from natural oils and greases,<br />

with tallow and palm oil being the most important sources.<br />

Other vegetable oils like castor oil, coconut oil, rapeseed<br />

oil or soybean oil can also play a role in production.<br />

Nor is origin the only important aspect here: another factor<br />

is whether the fatty acids are saturated or unsaturated,<br />

since this will result in performance differences for the final<br />

ester products.<br />

Alongside the fatty acid, an alcohol is the second elementary<br />

component in an ester. While there are many alcohols<br />

that can be used for ester synthesis, only a few of<br />

these – such as glycerine – can be obtained from natural<br />

raw materials. Most of the others must first be industrially<br />

synthesised. The main difference between the various alcohols<br />

is primarily the number of alcohol groups – which<br />

can be viewed as potential points of contact with the fatty<br />

acid – as well as the spatial structure of the respective<br />


molecule. This produces differences in properties, such as<br />

the melting point or viscosity, which may have a positive<br />

or negative effect, depending on the ultimate application.<br />

The various fatty acids and alcohols that can be used to<br />

manufacture an ester can be viewed as a set of building<br />

blocks: the chemical and physical parameters of the final<br />

product will vary depending on the specific raw materials<br />

that are combined together.<br />

Manufacturing process<br />

The manufacture of esters has undergone a continuous<br />

process of modernisation, hand-in-hand with the technical<br />

advances made over the years. While individual process<br />

parameters needed to be adjusted manually in former<br />

times, modern facilities are managed by a central, computerised<br />

process control system. This not only means<br />

that parameters can be adjusted more precisely, but the<br />

reaction process can be monitored continuously by facility<br />

staff, with the process also completing more quickly,<br />

thanks to ultramodern plant systems.<br />

To manufacture an ester, the fatty acid and alcohol are<br />

first added together. The reaction vessel is temperaturecontrolled,<br />

typically under vacuum, with temperatures<br />

potentially exceeding 200 °C. Under these conditions, the<br />

fatty acid and alcohol join together to produce an ester,<br />

with water being eliminated. Once complete, this reaction<br />

is followed by other process steps, such as filtration and<br />

bleaching.<br />

Depending on the raw materials used, the ester is then either<br />

solid or liquid at room temperature afterwards – this<br />

state then determines the final processing steps required<br />

for the products.<br />

Esters that are solid at room temperature are still liquid<br />

at the high temperatures used in the reaction: following<br />

the reaction, they are piped to a spraying tower and forced<br />

out of a nozzle at the top of the tower. Since temperatures<br />

outside the nozzle are normal, this cools down the ester,<br />

which falls to the vessel floor in the form of small beads.<br />

These products are primarily used in the plastics industry<br />

as lubricants, since the esters will once again assume a<br />

liquid state at the high temperatures used in plastics processing.<br />

The esters that are liquid even at room temperature are<br />

typically piped through a filter following the reaction,<br />

which also cools them down, and can then be filled directly<br />

after this process step. These products are primarily of<br />

interest for the lubricants industry, where they are utilised<br />

as a base oil for gear oils or greases, for example.<br />


THE 2020s<br />


In December 2020, we completed expansion<br />

work on the office building, including staff facilities,<br />

and the laboratory on our premises in<br />

Euskirchen. Sustainability was a key aspect of<br />

this construction project, which had a budget of<br />

around EUR 2 million. Complementing the 825<br />

sqm provided by the expansion, a large rooftop<br />

photovoltaic system was also installed on the<br />

existing parts of the building.<br />

Aerial view of Peter Greven Physioderm<br />




On 14 July 2021, a bout of persistent wet weather led to<br />

torrential downpours in western Germany, and in southern<br />

North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in particular.<br />

With the ground already saturated, more than 200<br />

l of rain per square metre now fell within a short space of<br />

time, leading to catastrophic flooding in the region.<br />

This caused the River Erft (an important source of water for<br />

us in former times) to rise to unprecedented levels. In 2007<br />

and 2019, we had already experienced moderate flooding<br />

here and had therefore taken various steps in recent years<br />

to prepare for an extreme flooding event. The floods on 14<br />

July 2021 were utterly unforeseeable, however, and these<br />

raging torrents of water simply took everything with them.<br />

As was the case in many districts in the Bad Münstereifel<br />

region – especially Iversheim and Arloff – the level of destruction<br />

on our premises was unimaginable, with trucks,<br />

trailers and containers being thrown together and swept<br />

away. Buildings directly adjoining the Erft suffered significant<br />

damage, including flooding, with an immense level<br />

of destruction and damage also affecting the local infrastructure<br />

(bridges, roads, etc.). At times, the water level<br />

had risen to more than 2.6 m, with significant quantities of<br />

mud and debris also being moved about.<br />

132<br />

Once the floods had receded, an initial appraisal seemed<br />

to suggest that a long period of company downtime would<br />

be unavoidable. Power and gas lines were also down<br />

across our entire site, nor was there any phone or internet<br />

conductivity available. In this situation, our subsidiaries in<br />

Penang, Venlo and Euskirchen no longer had access to our<br />

servers and were therefore unable to resume production –<br />

the first time this had happened in our company’s history.<br />

The sheer level of destruction, also apparent in the immediate<br />

neighbourhood, made it difficult to properly appraise<br />

the situation and take the first steps necessary. It<br />

was therefore all the more impressive to see the exemplary<br />

degree of dedication and determination shown by<br />

those of our colleagues not affected directly by the flooding,<br />

as they set about helping to clear up and solve the<br />

many problems encountered. Thanks to their efforts, major<br />

progress was made on a daily basis, giving us hope for<br />

the future. One important achievement for the Group as<br />

a whole was the fact that our subsidiaries were able to<br />

resume normal operations after a few days, therefore preventing<br />

any further losses for our business.<br />

Contrary to the expectations of many external experts,<br />

operations restarted at some production facilities even<br />

in Bad Münstereifel after just a few weeks, once again

producing saleable goods. Other<br />

facilities were brought back online<br />

step by step, so that company production<br />

was almost at full capacity<br />

again by the end of September<br />

2021.<br />

Fortunately, most of the damage<br />

suffered was covered by our insurance.<br />

As a result, this financial support<br />

enabled us to concentrate our<br />

efforts on repairing the damage.<br />

First and foremost, this meant getting<br />

our steam boiler operational,<br />

so as to be able to use our pipelines and tanks once again.<br />

With the steam boiler, as with many other parts of our<br />

production facilities, the main problem was the electrical<br />

enclosures, which had been fully submerged by the flooding<br />

and therefore first needed to be cleaned and dried out<br />

before they could be put into service again.<br />

And this was only a small part of the challenges that needed<br />

to be overcome, which also included working through<br />

long delivery backlogs, winning back our customers, fixing<br />

the remaining damage to our buildings and infrastructure,<br />

restoring our flood protection systems to their previous<br />

levels, and sorting out flood compensation payments from<br />

our insurers.<br />

At long last, the often considerable damage to our buildings<br />

was finally repaired, with facades and masonry replaced,<br />

alongside the drywalling affected by flooding.<br />

As a result of supply bottlenecks, plus long lead times for<br />

construction materials, some of the repairs to gates, doors<br />

and windows were completed only in early 2022.<br />

Companies working in the rendering, painting and tiling<br />

trades were also in short supply, which also caused delays<br />

to the restoration of some of our staff facilities and<br />

company laboratories. Extensive inspection and repair<br />

work was also needed for the tank terminal damaged by<br />

the flooding, with tanks set afloat by the floods actually<br />

having to be lifted entirely out of the terminal for this work<br />

and damaged foundations needing to be replaced.<br />

Several key flooding precautions were also taken, with the<br />

new water treatment plant set up on a flood-safe platform,<br />

together with the electrical enclosures for the steam<br />

boiler plant.<br />

Repairing the partially destroyed infrastructure within the<br />

factory was also another important part of restoration<br />


work. Many roadways had to be restored, alongside the<br />

bridge over the Erft – the only transport route of its kind<br />

over the river. The river bed and adjacent riverbanks were<br />

dredged and cleared, with the terrain being reconstructed<br />

according to earlier planning, so as to ensure that the original<br />

level of flood protection could be restored.<br />

Disposing of the products and raw materials rendered unusable<br />

by the floods is likely to continue to occupy us for<br />

some time to come.<br />

Although, in the final analysis, the impacts of this natural<br />

disaster ultimately proved to be manageable, we must use<br />

this experience to derive insights for our company, so as<br />

to ensure that we are even better prepared in the future.<br />


2020ER JAHRE<br />

On 14 July 2021, a flooding disaster occurred<br />

that broke all historical records. On this day, the<br />

normally unremarkable River Erft, which winds<br />

its way through our grounds, laid waste to the<br />

company head office in Bad Münstereifel. In the<br />

days and weeks after the flood, we gradually<br />

managed to get back to normality, thanks to the<br />

dedication and effort of all of our employees.<br />

Alongside metallic soaps, fatty acid esters are<br />

one of our main product groups. These are indispensable<br />

additives used primarily in the plastics,<br />

lubricants and textiles industries (see our focus<br />

article ‘Typical applications for metallic soaps<br />

and esters’ ). These products offer many options<br />

for development and also have major potential<br />

for growth. Following the construction of<br />

the VE 4 esterification plant over 10 years ago,<br />

our new VE 5 plant was completed and commis-<br />

Esterification plant VE 5 (on the right)<br />


2020ER JAHRE<br />

sioned mid-year 2022 after a construction period<br />

of almost two years. Our investment in this new<br />

production facility is a further step towards ensuring<br />

job security at our Bad Münstereifel production<br />

site. The products are primarily used as<br />

base oils for biobased lubricants. This investment<br />

therefore underlines our company’s clear<br />

orientation towards sustainable and forwardlooking<br />

applications.<br />

The same principle naturally applies to all of the<br />

other sites operated by our global Group. In autumn<br />

2022, for example, production also started<br />

at a new facility for metallic soaps at our site in<br />

Malaysia. Other projects, such as the construction<br />

of a dispersions facility at Norac Additives<br />

LLC in the USA and the construction of a new<br />

batching department at Peter Greven Nederland<br />

are currently ongoing and will be completed during<br />

the course of 2023.<br />

In the past, the Group has demonstrated that it<br />

can successfully handle even major international<br />

crises. The next few years are unlikely to be plain<br />

sailing, however. Geopolitical change, rising energy<br />

prices plus climate change and its regulatory<br />

frameworks will continue to make life difficult,<br />

especially for manufacturing companies based in<br />

Europe. Staying competitive on the global stage<br />

under these conditions will be the challenge for<br />

the company’s next decade.<br />

The future will also offer major opportunities,<br />

however. The most important of these is naturally<br />

the transition to a sustainable, climate-neutral<br />

economy – and sustainable solutions are something<br />

we have focused on from the outset!<br />



PETER GREV<strong>EN</strong> GROUP AS AN EMPLOYER<br />

During our hundred-year history, we’ve not only been a<br />

company but also an employer. Our role as an employer<br />

and the challenges we have faced have evolved continuously<br />

over the decades, and have ensured that we stay<br />

dynamic, true to the principle that ‘the only constant is<br />

change’. Yet stability is one of the most important aspects<br />

of our philosophy as an employer. Economic stability is a<br />

goal both from a business standpoint and in terms of our<br />

social responsibilities – because it creates job security. We<br />

have been able to stay true to this maxim since the formation<br />

of our company.<br />

Since the outset, our approach to human resources has<br />

been forward-looking and focused on growth. The soap<br />

and glycerine factory was an important new employer for<br />

local residents, of course. At the same time, however, the<br />

company management team cast its net wide when looking<br />

for the kinds of skilled workers who remained in high<br />

demand in the chemicals industry throughout the last<br />

century. As the new millennium dawned, we had made a<br />

name for ourselves as an employer well beyond regional<br />

borders. At the end of 2022, Peter Greven Group employed<br />

over 450 people worldwide. Over the last decade alone,<br />

the Group has added around 100 employees to the workforce,<br />

with the main drivers here being internationalisation<br />

and strategic site expansion projects.<br />

spect and thanks. The long periods of outstanding service<br />

provided by our employees are also unusual in comparison<br />

with many other employers in our industry. In times, when<br />

the labour market seems more fast-paced than any international<br />

trading place, this is truely something special that<br />

fills us with pride. In our parent company, for example, a<br />

quarter of our employees have worked at the company for<br />

over 20 years, while another quarter has been working<br />

there between six and ten years, which is a result of our<br />

constant, healthy growth.<br />

Key pillars of our approach to HR management are vocational<br />

training, talent promotion and staff development.<br />

For strategic personnel planning and the routine filling<br />

of vacancies, we use a broad-based apprenticeship programme<br />

with ten training professions, which enables us<br />

to ensure replacements for retirees from our own ranks<br />

of junior employees, for example. Personalised development<br />

plans are used to prepare our promising and motivated<br />

young professionals to take on more wide-ranging<br />

areas of responsibility. A highly diverse internal and external<br />

training programme allows us to ensure the targeted<br />

development of our skilled employees. Human Resources<br />

and the business departments work closely together to<br />

ensure that our workforce is fit for the future and to avoid<br />

knowledge loss.<br />

Corporate culture, communication and cooperation define<br />

an employer. This is exactly where our HR department<br />

comes in, as we know that trust is a two-way thing and has<br />

a central role to play. While employees entrust the task of<br />

setting and pursuing the right long-term goals to management<br />

and shareholders, the executive team relies on the<br />

workforce giving their best to achieve them, each and every<br />

day. For us, the loyalty and commitment shown to the<br />

Group by all of those that form a part of it is truly unique.<br />

The resilience of a company’s culture is proven in times of<br />

crisis. In 2021, our employees tackled the flooding disaster<br />

with an impressive and tireless dedication that was instrumental<br />

in ensuring we could get back on our feet as quickly<br />

as we did, and which continues to earn our heartfelt re-<br />


Alongside the fixed factors in personnel development and<br />

leadership, we also need to adapt to changes in the labour<br />

market. What is certain is that the employer market is becoming<br />

an employee market, with the applicant role now<br />

shifting from employee to employer. Companies position<br />

themselves as employers and actively advertise. In this<br />

war for talents, this skilled labour shortage, targeted and<br />

modern recruiting methods are essential in order for us to<br />

acquire new employees.<br />

This was the reason why we also developed our employer<br />

branding strategy some years ago, with the aim of positioning<br />

and communicating our strengths as an employer,<br />

and with two primary goals in mind: first, potential employees<br />

should become aware of the Group as an employer<br />

while second, job satisfaction among existing employees<br />

should also be improved, so as to strengthen their loyalty<br />

to the company. Social media marketing is a tool that is<br />

becoming increasingly relevant in this context. Our employer<br />

branding – ‘Personal Commitment. Joint Success.’<br />

– lies at the heart of our employer branding strategy, encapsulating<br />

and expressing our vision as an employer. Together,<br />

this commitment from each and every one of us is<br />

essential to achieve the success that ensures our continued<br />

existence in the market.<br />

Alongside economic and financial security, we also make<br />

a number of benefits available to our employees. These<br />

are intended not merely to differentiate us from other<br />

employers but also to express our appreciation for our<br />

workforce. Key aspects of these programmes include the<br />

maintenance and promotion of good health, for example.<br />

We also maintain a constant focus on the satisfaction of<br />

our colleagues and our Leadership Guideline is an important<br />

tool here. Nor is this Guideline a one-way street but<br />

provides both supervisors and employees themselves with<br />

guidance for ensuring that both parties interact as equals.<br />

To ensure that we can achieve our ambitious leadership<br />

goals, we not only take care to provide the right benefits<br />

and a personal company culture but also try to ensure that<br />

we stay in dialogue with our workforce. We routinely assess<br />

employee satisfaction in order to ensure we can make<br />

improvements here. Some of the instruments we use here<br />

include employee surveys, feedback rounds, team events<br />

or our Employee Interests project group, which meets regularly<br />

with the company executive and HR management<br />

staff.<br />

As an employer, we naturally want to do more than merely<br />

market our values as our branding – we want to bring<br />

them to life. Apart from attracting motivated new employees<br />

to join our company, we also need to care for our<br />

existing workforce, whose know-how is indispensable for<br />

our further growth and which ensures we are best-placed<br />

to meet the challenges in the labour market. We are now<br />

encountering a new generation of workers, who have developed<br />

a different understanding of their relationship to<br />

employers, who see themselves faced with a rapidly expanding<br />

jobs market and who often value independence<br />

over attachment. Employees change or stay in a job because<br />

of the people and the partnerships they form within<br />

it. This brings us back to our core focus – maintaining the<br />

character of a mid-sized, family-run business, with a flat<br />

hierarchy and where doors are always open. After all, this<br />

is the reason why we are not merely a successful company<br />

but also a successful employer – a role we relish and will<br />

continue to do so, with enthusiasm and a clear vision.<br />



Peter Greven Group<br />

Oleochemicals<br />

Skin Protection<br />

Peter Greven<br />

GmbH & Co. KG<br />

Peter Greven<br />

Nederland C.V.<br />

Peter Greven Asia<br />

Sdn. Bhd. (JV)<br />

Norac Additives<br />

LLC<br />

Peter Greven<br />

Physioderm GmbH<br />

Metallic Soaps<br />

Metallic Soaps<br />

Metallic Soaps<br />

Metallic Soaps<br />

Skin Protection<br />

Alkaline Soaps<br />

Alkaline Soaps<br />

Alkaline Soaps<br />

Esters<br />

Skin Cleansing<br />

Esters<br />

Dispersions<br />

Dispersions<br />

Stabilizers<br />

Skin Care<br />

Dispersions<br />

Desinfection<br />

Special Additives<br />

Dispenser Systems<br />

Green line = production is based on vegetable raw materials only<br />


Peter Greven<br />

founded the<br />

soap and glycerin<br />

factory<br />

1923<br />

Transition from a<br />

soap factory to the<br />

producer of oleochemical<br />

additives<br />

and derivatives<br />

1945<br />

Formation of the<br />

chemical factory<br />

Iversheim and the<br />

start of developments<br />

for dispenser dosable<br />

skin cleaning agents<br />

1958<br />

Company founder<br />

Peter Greven dies<br />

at the age of 76<br />

1962<br />

Range of production<br />

is increased by<br />

ester<br />

1968<br />

New robotic packaging<br />

system<br />

1980s<br />

1934<br />

1956<br />

1960s<br />

1970s<br />

Commissioning of a<br />

system for lipolysis<br />

and glycerin<br />

Start of metallic<br />

soap production,<br />

diversification<br />

The second generation,<br />

Heinz and<br />

Günther Greven,<br />

take over leadership<br />

of the family<br />

business<br />

Growing market<br />

demand for metallic<br />

soaps, capacity<br />

expansion<br />



With Peter Greven,<br />

the third generation<br />

joins the<br />

Executive Board<br />

1993<br />

Takeover of the stearate<br />

business from the<br />

French company Ceca,<br />

formation of Peter Greven<br />

France<br />

2005<br />

Formation of the<br />

subsidiary Peter<br />

Greven Asia in<br />

Malaysia<br />

2007<br />

1990s<br />

2000<br />

2006<br />

2011<br />

Conventional batch<br />

saponification becomes<br />

fully automatic<br />

continuous saponification.<br />

New filling<br />

plant for silo, big bags<br />

and containers<br />

Acquisition of the<br />

production facility<br />

in Venlo, formation<br />

of the subsidiary<br />

Peter Greven Netherlands<br />

Outsourcing of skin<br />

protection business<br />

and construction<br />

of production in<br />

Euskirchen<br />

Formation of Peter<br />

Greven USA<br />


90 years<br />

Peter Greven<br />

2013<br />

DP-plant Venlo, NL<br />

Takeover Norac<br />

Additives Limited, USA<br />

Flood disaster<br />

2014 2017 2021<br />

100 Years<br />

Peter Greven<br />

2023<br />

2013<br />

2017<br />

2020<br />

2022<br />

Commissioning of<br />

the VE4 and new<br />

construction of the<br />

administration and the<br />

laboratory buildings<br />

Dismantling<br />

of fatty acid<br />

production<br />

Reconstruction at<br />

Peter Greven<br />

Physioderm<br />

COAD ® plant at<br />

Peter Greven Asia<br />



The 1930s<br />

Start-up phase with the soap works at the river Erft<br />


The 1940s<br />

The company grounds after the soap works extension including boiler house<br />


1955<br />

The plant has spread out along both sides of the Erft<br />


1961<br />

1961 after the autoclave splitting construction in the centre of the plant, left with the Peter Greven logo on the roof<br />


1967<br />

1967 after construction of stearate 4 (on the left of the company grounds)<br />


The 1980s<br />

The 1980s after construction of the metallic soaps department<br />


1987<br />

1987 after new construction of halls 10 and 11 (at the bottom of the picture)<br />


1991<br />

1991 after construction of the central warehouse and storage facility<br />


1999<br />

1999 after construction of halls 14 and 15 (top right)<br />


2006<br />

2006 after the building of the dropletisation tower (right)<br />


2013 construction of the esterification VE4 and the new administration, laboratory and social area above the previous company<br />

grounds<br />

2013<br />


1926 1945 1951<br />

1960s<br />

1936 1940s - 1950s 1953


1969 1989 since 2010<br />

1967 1970s - 1980s 1990s - 2010


Abrasion: Erosion of surfaces by means of abrasive<br />

materials.<br />

Alkaline soaps: Sodium or Potassium salts of a fatty<br />

acid.<br />

Autoclave / Split autoclaves: A gas-tight, sealable<br />

pressure vessel, which is used for the thermal treatment<br />

of materials in the overpressure range.<br />

Batch saponification: The preparation of soap in<br />

individual batches (as opposed to continuous production).<br />

COAD®: Norac Additives, LLC’s patented, continuous<br />

production process for the manufacturing of<br />

metallic soaps. The process is characterized by high<br />

performance and energy efficiency.<br />

Continuous saponification: Unlike the batch saponification,<br />

an optimised, continuous manufacturing<br />

process.<br />

Direct Process (DP): Process for the production of<br />

metallic soaps in just one reaction step. Here, a<br />

polyvalent metal hydroxide is reacted directly with<br />

one or more fatty acids and forms the corresponding<br />

metallic soap.<br />

Distillation: Substances can be separated from each<br />

other by evaporation at different boiling points, for<br />

example, water (boiling point: 100° C) and acetone<br />

(boiling point: 56° C).<br />

DIN ISO 9001/14001: Legal standards for quality<br />

management (ISO 9001) and environmental management<br />

(ISO 14001), which ensure a high standard<br />

both for the quality of products as well as for the<br />

environment.<br />

Emulsifier: Emulsifiers are used for two immiscible<br />

liquids, such as oil and water, to mix and stabilise<br />

into a finely divided mixture (emulsion), by condensation<br />

of an alcohol group (R2 -OH).<br />

Ester / Esterification: By ester, a functional group is<br />

meant, which is formed by condensation of an alcohol<br />

group, (R2 –OH) and an acid group, (R1- COOH),<br />

resulting in, (R1 -COO -R2). The reaction for the production<br />

of esters is called esterification. Most such<br />

reactions on an industrial scale, run at temperatures<br />

above 100° C in order to boil the water formed in<br />

the process.<br />

Extruder Press: A machine for forming the soap<br />

mass into long strands which are then cut into the<br />

respective bars of soap.<br />


Fatty Acid: A group term for monocarboxylic acids<br />

which are composed of a carboxyl group (-COOH)<br />

and out of a different length, but almost exclusively<br />

unbranched hydrocarbon chain. The naming of fatty<br />

acid is in part because of the chemical properties of<br />

this substance group which reacts in an acidic manner<br />

due to its carboxyl group.<br />

Fatty Acid Derivatives: A derived substance similar<br />

in structure to a corresponding basic element, in<br />

this case the fatty acid.<br />

Galenics: The study of pharmaceutical composition<br />

and manufacturing.<br />

Glycerine: The simplest trivalent alcohol.<br />

GMP: GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), guidelines<br />

for production and quality assurance in the<br />

production of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and<br />

feeding stuffs.<br />

Halal: Translated this means „allowed“ and includes<br />

all acts and things which are permitted under<br />

Islamic law, such as dietary rules written in the<br />

Koran and the sunnah, determine whether foods are<br />

halal or not.<br />

Hydrogenation: The addition of hydrogen.<br />

Hydrophobing: The term hydrophobic means wateravoiding<br />

or water-repellent. In the context of hydrophobic<br />

treatment, a material or surface is made<br />

water-repellent. In many cases, this property can be<br />

recognized by the fact that hydrophobic surfaces allow<br />

water to roll off.<br />

Kosher: Kashrut - religious rules for the preparation<br />

and consumption of food in the Jewish community.<br />

Only foods that are kosher may be eaten.<br />

Lipolysis: Decomposition of fats, i.e. the glycerides<br />

in the constituent fatty acids and glycerin.<br />

Metallic soap: The collective term for fatty acid salts<br />

with a variety of metals such as aluminum, zinc, calcium<br />

and lithium, etc. The common feature of these<br />

compounds is their hydrophobicity and insolubility<br />

in water, in contrast to potassium or sodium soaps.<br />

Oleate: See Oleic acid.<br />

Oleic acid: Mono-unsaturated fatty acid.<br />

Oleochemicals: A branch of chemistry that deals<br />

with reactions and products based on the raw fat<br />

/ fatty acid.<br />

Pillier machine: A machine for kneading and rolling<br />

finished soap, in order to homogenise the soap mass<br />

as well as possible.<br />


Precipitation: Removal of a solute of a solution by<br />

the addition of suitable substances.<br />

Splitting Tower: A special process which involves<br />

the breakdown of fat into glycerol and fatty acid.<br />

This takes place at very high temperatures (> 200 °<br />

C). The main component of such plants is a very tall<br />

splitting container, hence the name splitting tower.<br />

Stearate: See stearic acid.<br />

Stearic acid: Saturated fatty acid. Its salts and esters<br />

are called stearate.<br />


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