Teepack – manufacturers of a machine that has changed the world
Whoever produces tea somewhere in the world and wants to have it packed in teabags, they eventually end up in Büderich, because there on perimeter of the town of Meerbusch and within sight of their affiliated company Teekanne in Düsseldorf Heerdt, is the head office of the engineering company Teepack GmbH, undisputed global market leader for a niche product, the tea packaging machine. Whoever has seen one of these machines in action, machines that are as quick and precise as a Swiss watch, will from then on put a tea bag in his cup with more respect. Machines manufactured today can produce 450 tea bags a minute. Filter paper from the roll is cut, folded, filled, formed and closed. Then the thread, which at one time used to be stapled to the tag, is fastened with a knot. Finally the tea bags are placed in a collapsible box which in turn is shrink-wrapped with foil. All of this is carried out by a single machine which not for nothing carries the name – “Perfekta Universal”.
The quality of the machine is legendary. Some of the machines built in the 1950’s are still running. However Teepack’s engineers have continually optimised their machines, a high degree of efficiency being the best sales argument. Nevertheless, the majority of people who pass by the Teepack works on the Düsseldorfer Strasse are not aware what a champion is hidden behind this address. They are all the better known in the global tea market. Like a classical Germen engineering company Teepack places emphasis on quality and performance. Added to this are the particular characteristics of the tea market. The fact that Teepack is affiliated to Teekanne does not bother the competition; on the contrary, customers know that Teepack are well versed in the tea market and that they try out everything first with Teekanne. Many tea suppliers are medium-sized businesses with whom Teepack has a life-long partnership. Already at the planning stage Teepack can provide assistance.
However the history of the company and its packaging machines cannot be told separately without mentioning the invention of the tea bag itself. In 1882 a company was formed in Dresden dealing in Japanese and Chinese goods and tea. At the beginning of the 20th century the two managers, Rudolf Anders and Eugen Nisslé, had a vision of being able to prepare a cup of tea simply and practically. They put tea-leaves into small gauze bags and furnished them with a thread. They named these bags, which looked like miniature Rokoko bags, “Pompadour” after the mistress of Louis XV. By request of the Kaiser, soldiers during the First World War were given tea bags in their field packs. These so called “Tea Bombs” were filled with a mixture of ground tea and sugar to give energy. When in the 1920’s simple tea bags made of filter paper appeared in the USA, things started to move in the tea market. During this period of change a fitter by the name of Adolf Rambold started working for Teekanne. He proved to be an ingenious inventor and tinkerer. His first masterpiece was a Pompadour Machine that could automatically fill and pack 35 tea bags per minute. The succeeding model was already able to manage 80 bags made of special paper per minute.
With the bombing of Dresden at the end of the Second World War Teekanne lost everything. The owner family fled from the ruined city to the West. In Viersen the tea friends found somewhere to stay, initially on the premises of Kaiser’s Kaffee. This was until 1948 when they founded an independent company called Teepack in Büderich and in 1954 built a new tea processing plant in neighbouring Düsseldorf-Heerdt. This was made possible by Teepack machines being delivered to the American market leader Lipton. By this means the owners, who had lost everything in the war, were able to obtain funds to build the company up again. In 1949 a tea packaging machine developed by Rambold and going by the name of Constanta came on the market. It folded a strip of paper 15 cm long into a sleeve and creased it in the middle. Tea is then filled in from both sides forming a double chamber thereby allowing the tea powder to be infused on four sides. This ingenious idea is to this day the standard adopted in most countries of the world. For reasons of taste and because of technical food regulations tea bags may not be glued together. They have to be porous but at the same time remain tear proof. A gauze made from fibres of the Abaca plant were chosen to make the filter. This material is one hundred percent biodegradable and to the present day has proved its worth many millions of times.
The Teepack machine is made up of around 20,000 parts, about one and half times more than in a Mercedes Sprinter van. With its patents Teepack had a virtual monopoly for 25 years. Whoever needed a machine for packaging tea had to come to Büderich, but even today Teepack dominates the world market from Meerbusch. Over the last five years the number of employees has been increased from 180 to 220. Every year around 50 to 60 machines are produced in the Teepack workshops. Throughout the world around 2500 Teepack machines are in use. The manufacturing penetration on site lies by 90 to 95 percent. The production process is also programmed by Teepack staff. Those employees over 40 are closely bonded to the company and in its history father-son-tradition is not unusual. The majority of employees receive training from scratch by the company themselves and there is no need to worry about the future, of that manager Rheinold Schlensock is certain, since the market for tea is growing worldwide and with it a need for Teepack machines. In particular the market for herbal and fruit teas has a growth rate of 5 to 7 percent. In Europe and the USA an aging population puts increasing value on health. But also the markets in Eastern Europe and Russia are booming as well as markets in the Near and Middle East. The modern way of living encourages ever more consumers to change from loose tea to teabags.
As at: May 2015
Teepack Spezialmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG
Düsseldorfer Straße 73d
Tel. 02132 976-0
Fax 02132 976-100