Clay has played the decisive role in our family and corporate history since time immemorial. From the establishment by Stephan Laumans in 1896 up to the present today many generations have led the premium roofing tile company Laumans to its present-day significance.
Thomas Piper of the Piper Group (leading supplier of wall and roof ceramics in Scandinavia www.randerstegl.dk) and Gerald Laumans are successfully guiding the company’s fortunes 125 years after the company’s formation.
In October, Stephan Laumans, in the wake of the roofing tile boom, constructed the first Bracht steam-operated roofing tilery in Stiegstraße in Bracht. Other owners of the company were his brothers Caspar and Jacques.
The permit for this first Bracht steam-operated roofing tilery, which was called Stephan Laumans und Co, was issued on 2 December. The capital amounting to 36,000 gold marks was made available by Quirinus, their father. That was the starting shot for the roofing tile industry in Bracht.
In that year the Tegelen, Kaldenkirchen and Bracht roofing firms of the Laumans family merged into one company under the name of “Gebr. Laumans” (Laumans Bros.). After the death of their father, Quirinus (1900), Stephan managed the company in Bracht and Caspar was the leading figure in Kaldenkirchen and Tegelen.
The absence of a connection to the rail network was counteracted jointly by Bracht’s industrialists with their support for the construction as far as the state rail station in Kaldenkirchen of a local railway that was completed by the Continentale Eisenbahnbau- und Betriebsgesellschaft (Continental Railway Construction and Operating Company) in 1901. Transport of the raw material from the clay pits in the community forest to the factory was now carried out by narrow-gauge railways.
In Bracht, the first housing units for workers were built to secure the work force for the factory on a long-term basis.
Jacques Laumans, who had been operating his own steam-heated roofing tile factory in Reuver in the Netherlands since 1893/94, retired from his position of silent partner with Gebr. Laumans.
Through the construction of the first Bracht ring kiln, further tile models were added. With 75 workers, the business now achieved an annual production of 6 to 8 million roofing tiles. Also, in that year Bracht/Laumans were linked up to the national rail network.
The outbreak of war stopped the company’s positive development so that for some of the time operations had to be suspended because of shortages of manpower and fuel. After the end of the war, both coal and roofing tiles remained under coercive management. Despite the comparatively low production figures, the course of business was not bad because of the high demand for building materials, above all since Gebr. Laumans also exported to the reconstruction area in Northern France.
The company A. Baehren in the neighbouring town of Brüggen went bankrupt. The works were bought by Gebr. Laumans in November and put into operation again in January 1927. With that the family-owned company of Gebr. Laumans owned a total of four roofing tile works in Tegelen, Kaldenkirchen, Bracht and Brüggen.
The company was divided up over the two branches of the family. Caspar Laumans, who had so far been responsible for Tegelen and Kaldenkirchen – took over, together with his son Lambèr, the main factory in Tegelen and the Kaldenkirchen business under the name C. Laumans. Stephan Laumans continued to manage the works in Bracht and the new acquisition in Brüggen under the previous name of Gebr. Laumans jointly with his sons Quirin and Lambert.
The new company of Gebr. Laumans employed a total of 95 workers in the two works, with only one quarter of that workforce working in the Brüggen works. Production at the two factories was carried out in a corresponding ratio.
In total Gebr. Laumans produced about 6 million roofing tiles and with that achieved sales of approximately 500.000 reichsmarks. That year, too, the neighbouring clayworks, Brachter Tonwerke, (formerly Tonwerk Ideal) burned down. Gebr. Laumans bought the site and the building remains and after restoration added the complex to the Bracht roofing tile works.
The Brüggen works that had remained shut down in 1932/33, almost completely burned down in December, but were put back into operation again in March 1937.
Due to the Second World War, the company produced fewer roofing tiles up till September 1944. In November, Bracht and Brüggen were then evacuated as a result of which all production became impossible.
1944 – 1945
In the wartime winter of 1944/45, the Bracht factory was hit by British bombers shortly before a planned evacuation. Only after the end of the war could roofing tile production be restarted in the following autumn. Following the death of Stephan Laumans (in the middle of the World War II), Gebr. Laumans continued to be managed by the brothers Quirin und Lambert until the early 1970s. In the following two decades, which were characterized by the reconstruction of Germany, all the roofing tile works in the region flourished. Gebr. Laumans also profited from the boom in the construction industry.
After the turmoil of the Second World War the processing plant is constructed in Brüggen. The sump building is constructed and housing units for workers are also built in Brüggen.
1951 – 1979
The works were modernized by means of the construction of tunnel kilns, clay processing plants and drying plants. In spite of the increasing automation, Gebr. Laumans employed up to 160 workers in Bracht und Brüggen.
Until 1979, Gebr. Laumans also operated TZW Ton- und Ziegelwerk in Schwandorf in Upper Palatinate which produced, among other things, honeycomb bricks, klinker bricks, facing bricks and drainage pipes.
When the boom in the building industry faded after 1960, the company also included Poroton® perforated backing bricks in its range of products.
Gebr. Laumans became a GmbH & Co. KG and shortly after the next generation took over the management of the company. Quirin’s son Stephan (* 1935) became a managing partner for the Bracht works and Lambert’s son Lambert (1941–2013) managed the works in Alt-Brüggen.
1972 – 1973
After a major fire in the Bracht works, a fully automatic plant for Poroton® perforated backing bricks and a new plant for high-quality roofing tiles were built, as a result of which a considerable increase in productivity and a further improvement of the quality were achieved.
A central clay processing unit in Bracht, a new packaging system in Brüggen and a new plant for glazed and engobed roofing tiles with new kiln technology were the milestones of the following years.
In the autumn, the company of Gebr. Laumans looked back on 100 years of an eventful, but successful history.
An innovative sign was set with the solar roofing tile, which served as a carrier for solar modules and could hence be integrated into the roof covering. The overall impression of the house was not adversely affected by it.
Upon the abandonment of the Poroton® business segment, the company aligns itself strategically to the core competence of “roofing tiles”.
Gerald Laumans (* 1967), son of Stephan jun. and a member of the fourth generation of the Bracht dynasty, is now actively involved in managing the company.
The enlargement of the group of shareholders around the Danish Piper Group continues the medium-sized company tradition and provides new development opportunities in the European context for Gebr. Laumans.
The solar roofing tile introduced in 1996 failed to capture the market. Production was discontinued in 2004.
Following the explosion of a kiln, no more roofing tiles were produced in the Alt-Brüggen works.
100 years of Laumans in Berlin. The family-owned company had until then supplied the roofing tiles for the suburban rail stations Witzleben, Schöneberg, Schmargendorf and the Hackesche Höfe according to the historical model.
With new and many revised first-class roofing tile models and colours the company of Laumans still remains the first point of contact for high-quality roofing ceramics. Annual sales of 12.5 million euros were achieved.
The company relaunches its promotional appearance and positions itself even more clearly than hitherto, as THE premium supplier for high-quality roofing ceramics. With a passion for the material clay, unbeatable roofing tile know-how and uncompromising customer-orientation.
The company’s new slogan is “Premium roofing tiles since 1896” and for the highly motivated Laumans team this is not lip service but lived everyday life.
In March, the Alt-Brüggen works, which following an explosion in 2008 no longer produced any roofing tiles, was demolished together with its chimney and the clay transport bridge that characterized the locality. A residential area is now to be constructed there. The company employs at the old traditional location, Stiegstraße in Bracht, 85 members of staff and annually produces about 11 million roofing tiles (market share in Germany 3%) with annual sales of € 12.5 million (2014).
Gerald Laumans and Thomas Piper still share the management and are expanding Laumans premium roofing tiles, with strengthened market appearances in Poland, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, into a company of European significance.