Carl Bechem was a visionary, creative thinker and entrepreneurial mastermind.

He was the founder of the first German oil factory and so quickly became the first manufacturer of industrial lubricants. The name of the new customer magazine is therefore also CARL – as a small tribute.

Carl Bechem, the young man from Elberfeld who completed his schooling and commercial training at a textile company, arrived in Hagen in 1828. With a population of 3,500, Hagen was an aspiring town with an industrial environment offering young visionaries fantastic opportunities. The end of the 1820s saw increasing industrial progress in all industry sectors. The demand for energy and raw materials, such as ores, iron and steel, rose dramatically. Hagen was embedded in the coal, iron and steel region and the new railway link made it a major transport hub. Steam engines and locomotives meant the strongly growing industrial base around Hagen developed into a major consumer of lubricants.

Oil flows to the lubrication points from small, glass containers affixed to the engines. Considering the number of mechanical components in weaving looms and spinning frames moving at high speed, Carl Bechem possibly develops initial business ideas with lubricants. With experience from the textile industry, the young Bechem saw (probably before his time) the need and necessity to supply the emerging industrialisation with lubricants. As a creative thinker and entrepreneurial mastermind, he formed the first German oil factory in 1834 with his partner Middelmann. With commercial registry entry No. 6, he laid down the foundations for a forward-thinking company involved in the production of oils and greases – which it is still doing to this day. After a short time, the company was only trading under the name of founder Carl Bechem.

Pig rind for lubricating moving iron parts had had its day. The base materials for lubrication products were of vegetable and animal origin because mineral oil was still unknown at that time. Carl Bechem probably traded and experimented with vegetable and animal oils, and supplied the factories in the local area with lubricants. Carl Bechem specialised in rapeseed oil – which was used for wire cabling. In Altena (Märkischer Kreis), the stronghold of wire cabling, there was one wire drawer after the other. A large market for Carl Bechem. Through his contacts to local industry, he gained initial technical knowledge of lubrication. It grew with the requirements made of new machines, became embedded and certainly created the trust required by customers.

Carl Bechem
24/12/1806 – 09/01/1891

The requirements of lubricants became increasingly differentiated and new products had to be developed. Once the viewpoint had been accepted at Carl Bechem that there was all kind of potential for the mineral oil being extracted from the ground since 1859 in Pennsylvania (USA), and brought to Europe in containers from 1861 onwards, toiling and experimenting started, as did mixing existing raw materials with new ones, and bringing about improvements.

1884 saw Carl Bechem celebrate his 78th birthday and the company its 50th anniversary. His two sons Hermann Gustav and Ernst Wilhelm also worked at the company. Over the past 50 years, Carl Bechem had made a name for himself as a manufacturer of industrial lubricants, and his entrepreneurial success spoke for itself.

When he died in 1891 at the age of 84, he left to his son Ernst Wilhelm a healthy, consolidated company having a reputation for reliability and expert knowledge with customers and suppliers.

Schilken, Hannelore, manuscript of a chronicle of Carl Bechem GmbH, 1834 to 1984. In the year of its 150-year anniversary, employee Hannelore Schilken compiled an overview of the company history.
Hermannsen, Hans-Rudolf, and Vieweg, Kai-Uwe, “BECHEM – ein Hagener Familienunternehmen seit 180 Jahren” (“A Hagen family-run business for 180 years”), in “HagenBuch 2014”, Pages 103-113, Publisher: Hagener Heimatbund e.V., ISBN 978-3-942184-34-2