The new building: Spread over just two floors, its appearance is modern and transparent, dynamic and cutting-edge.
Image: Ledwig + Spinnen Architekten
It all began in 1882 with oils and greases for textile machinery, construction, agriculture and vehicle manufacture. It was during this year that Wilhelm Schlafhorst founded his business on Wallstraße in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Rhenus Lub has long since become an impressive global company and producer of coolants and high-performance lubricating greases, with an annual output of 29,000 tonnes and a turnover of 91 million euro. For four decades, the headquarters of Rhenus Lub has been based in Rheindahlen — with 52,000 square meters of floor space.
Continual investments have been made over the years. The final addition was the new grease factory, which opened in 2005. Instead of five days with one shift per day, production now takes place across six days with two shifts per day and the output is double that of before, explains Max Reiners, Owner and Managing Director of the company. However, the administration offices at the site entrance in Rheindahlen have remained unchanged since the beginning.
“The building is also 40 years old in terms of energy”, says Reiners. It gets extremely hot in the summer and is cold in the winter. Furthermore, it extends over four floors. “That slows down communication and is no longer suitable for this day and age”, says the Managing Director. Lastly, the company also wants to attract highly qualified employees with good working conditions.
This is why a new building is now being constructed between the entrance and the employee car park. 2.85 million euro is being invested in the creation of the two-storey office building. The building is being designed by Mönchengladbach-based architectural firm Ledwig + Spinnen, while the company Ernst Kreuder will be responsible for construction. It will contain two-person and three-person offices and in the centre, there will be a meeting area with tea and coffee making facilities. “It will be a space where employees can meet together and discuss company operations”, says Reiners. Every office will have a window next to the door, which will increase transparency and improve open communication. Mobile workstations will also be available for sales representatives. The staircase joining the two floors will be located in the centre of the building. The project is being managed by Reiners’s daughter, Isabella Kleeschulte, who is also responsible for marketing at Rhenus Lub. Construction began after Carnival and should be completed by the end of the year. The move is estimated to take three months.
After that, the second phase will begin: The existing building will be demolished. However, the ground floor will be retained — it will be gutted and modernised and will also contain meeting rooms that connect the different offices. In addition, a lunch area for all the company departments is planned.
A further expansion is also planned. “We are currently at maximum capacity”, says Reiners. The project includes the replacement of the production plant in the oil factory, as well as a new filling system for oils and greases. “This work is made easier by the current good economic climate.” Everything has been carefully planned. Production will stop for only ten days. “We expect to see a downtime of 4 per cent”, he says. “Supply will not be interrupted, as we have enough in stock.” Reiners anticipates commissioning of the new plant and system to take three years. Then approval will be required from the district government.
Between 2017 and 2020, Reiners expects to invest 20 million euro in the project. This equates to twice as much as usual per year. “In this case, you can’t expect a direct return on investment”, emphasises the Rhenus Lub director. This is particularly because the investment in the new building is for the benefit of the employees.