top of page

Kniggendorf + Kögler - 159 years of company history

Kniggendorf + Kögler – 159 Jahre Firmengeschichte

The year is 1862: In the USA, Abraham Lincoln announces the end of slavery. In Berlin, Otto von Bismarck is appointed Prussian Prime Minister. And in Hanover, Johann Georg Schnath founded the G. Schnath Lampen-u. Blech-Waren-Fabrik. Thus, our family business, the later Kniggendorf + Kögler GmbH, was born. The road to today's metal processing and safety technology specialist was full of challenges, sometimes rocky, but it always had one direction: forward! Steered by courageous strategists and supported by committed employees, the past 159 years have made us what we are today: a company with a long history, solidly anchored in the present, facing the future. A lot has happened in the past 16 decades. We would like to tell you about important key dates and events here.

Mr. Kniggendorf and Mr. Kögler

There are, for example, the 1880s, when journeymen Heinrich Kniggendorf and Richard Kögler join the company and take it over from the Schnath heirs shortly before the start of the First World War (1913). This was accompanied by a change of the company name. At that time, the main products were petroleum lamps for railroads and oil and lubricating cans for locomotives. At the end of the war, the fate of the company is placed in the hands of Friedrich Kniggendorf, the great-grandfather of the current managing directors Cathrin Kalthoff and Frederik Otto. Friedrich Kniggendorf distinguishes himself as a brilliant businessman during the period of hyperinflation and currency reform, steering the company through difficult times and expanding it.

Crisis and new beginning

During the nights of bombing in October 1943, the factory rooms and machinery at the company headquarters in Baringstrasse in Hanover, which had existed since 1935, were destroyed. Nevertheless, operations continued under the most difficult conditions. And with only four journeymen and two apprentices, Friedrich Kniggendorf finally made a successful start to the company's post-war history. It was not long before the next generation joined the company: In 1951, Friedrich Kniggendorf's daughter Gertrud married Heinz Otto, who continued to expand the business in the years that followed. It is the time of the economic miracle: At the end of the 1950s, the automotive, safe and manometer industries replace the German Federal Railroad as the main customer. This makes it necessary to expand the machine park with punches, presses, and machine tools.

The upswing

In the decades that followed, the company continued to grow. The company's 100th anniversary in 1962 is celebrated with around 20 employees. Always there: the family. Getrud Otto takes care of human resources. And in the mid-1970s, son Wilfried joined Kniggendorf + Kögler and soon gave the company new impetus. An example: Father and son Otto expand their relationships with the commercial vehicle industry and with safe construction. The manufacture of valuables transport cases results from the production of insert cassettes for safe locking systems. Kniggendorf + Kögler thus becomes the leading manufacturer of transport cases for money and transport companies.

Showing character

But there are also setbacks: In 1982, a fire in the paint shop destroys parts of the business. "In a crisis, character shows itself," they say. And the company has it - at all levels. Those in charge see the necessary reconstruction as an opportunity to become more modern and competitive. Soon, the subcontracting sector for safe construction grows. From the mid-eighties, Kniggendorf + Kögler can process parts up to a sheet thickness of 5 mm. Machine punching increasingly enables more rational production. One year after the company's 125th anniversary in 1987, Kniggendorf + Kögler finds its current headquarters in the Laatzen-Rethen industrial park.

Cooperation and innovation

It is very important to think outside the box. And this became particularly important with the fall of the Berlin Wall. A few years earlier, Kniggendorf & Kögler had already found a cooperation partner in Hungary, with whom the company continues to work to this day. In 1990, father and son Otto establish new business contacts in Eisenach. Wilfried Otto takes over a share in the Thuringian partners for 10 years. In the nineties, Kniggendorf & Kögler continues to develop and again demonstrates innovative strength. Some examples: Development and production of soap dispensers for the hygiene industry. Construction of a production plant in which hundreds of thousands of insert cassettes are manufactured. Development of a depot for key dispensing and acceptance in car dealerships. Or the tool production for paper money containers of the Bundesbank.

The new millennium

The new millennium then brings very important innovations: Firstly, Kniggendorf + Kögler welcomes the next generation of the owner family: Wilfried Otto's children Cathrin Kalthoff and Frederik Otto join the company, ready to take responsibility for the next chapters in the company's history. On the other hand, Kniggendorf + Kögler once again recognizes the signs of the times: leading car manufacturers urge their dealers to use key depots and come knocking on our door. In response, the company develops a depot comparable to bank voucher acceptance systems. Today, it is the first VDS-tested key depot with approval. This is the initial spark for a new business field: In 2005, Kniggendorf + Kögler Security GmbH is founded, which experiences a rapid rise in the following years and develops, among other things, key issuing and key management depots for car dealerships, hotels and care services.

International connections

As of 2010, Kniggendorf + Kögler continues to expand its international business relations. Numerous dealers sell our products in other European countries. And we also sell key management products there. In addition, the products we manufacture are becoming more and more complex. There is close cooperation with plastic processors to use plastic to complement our metal goods. This leads to an even wider range of products and significant growth in sales.

Soon we will need more space, so we are adding 800 square meters of warehouse and shipping space in Laatzen-Rethen. And we invest in other places as well: At the end of the decade, the first custom-built robot is ordered for production, a forward-looking step for the years to come.

Proud successor - successful future

The challenges, opportunities and ideas of the past 159 years have made Kniggendorf + Kögler what it is today: a proud family company in its fifth generation, with hands-on leaders and great employees. We stand for quality, experience, reliability, and practical orientation. We are constantly developing new products and always have an ear to the market.

Our goal is clear: We fulfill customer requirements at the highest level. And we continue on our way to a successful future.

We look forward to getting to know you. Contact us!


bottom of page