TFL – with 300 years´ experience

January 2010
TFL – with 300 years´ experience
TFL is fully aware of the debt it owes to its precursor companies. On
its 10th anniversary it therefore looks back at the histories of its
founding companies Ciba-Geigy, Röhm and Stockhausen.
In 1758, the then 25-year-old Johann Rudolf Geigy had founded a
business dealing in spices, medicines and also in dyes such as indigo and
logwood as well as in tanning materials, especially sumach.
In 1926, the production of synthetic tanning agents started, as their
significance for the leather industry had been clearly recognized. A few
years later the at that time unique IRGATAN LV, a white tanning agent
based on dioxydiphenylsulfone, was introduced to the market.
In 1932, a whole series of valuable products was created that made
allowance for new requirements such as high light fastness, good ageing
properties and heat fastness as well as good dyeability. Products like
TANNESCO H, IRGATAN RBL, SELLASOL HF, to mention but a few,
emerged from leather research at Geigy.
After World War II Geigy’s business with tanning agents expanded very
rapidly. In the 50s and 60s the leather business shifted steadily away from
shoe upper leather towards garment and upholstery leather. This resulted
in a generally increased demand for nappa leather which in turn triggered
a growing requirement for softening tanning agents and faster dyes.
In 1859, chemist Alexander Clavel started the production of fuchsin in
Basel. He was regarded as the founder of Ciba, which he sold to the
company Bindschedler & Busch in 1873.
In 1884 the new owners Bindschedler & Busch traded under the name
"Chemische Industrie Basel", abbreviated to Ciba. However, this
abbreviation only became official in 1945.
In the 20s, before Ciba had a leather department proper, the first acid
direct and basic dyes for leather were introduced to the market. During
this time a RESORCIN brown, a KITON brown and a basic black were
launched. Also Ciba was awarded its first patents for leather dyeing.
Before World War II the first 1:1 metal complex dyes came onto the
market. With Ciba’s NEOLAN, fine leathers such as kid could be dyed
evenly in trendy colors and light to medium shades with hitherto unknown
fastness properties. At this time too, Ciba's leather department had also
looked into the use of polyglycol ethers as dyeing auxiliaries, a line of
investigation which subsequently led to the introduction of such important
products such as INVADERM LU.
In the 50s, the strong demand for finishing products was crucial for Ciba.,
driving new developments like NEOCAPADERM dye powders and paste
and also polyacrylates. At that stage, too, the firm’s activities with
auxiliaries proved very useful for the growing fur and wool skin business.
In 1969, Ciba gave up its finishing business, which came to Sandoz
indirectly after being sold to Quinn.
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January 2010
TFL – with 300 years´experience
Ciba-Geigy was founded in 1971 with the merger of Ciba and Geigy. Dr.
Hubert Wachsmann was appointed manager of the new company’s
Industry Sector Leather.
In the 70s, this new company started an intensive search for aqueous and
water dilutable systems that were equal or superior to solvent-based
polyurethane finishes in terms of fastness properties. A reentry into
finishing would have been conceivable as Ciba-Geigy had excellent
pigment ranges.
In the early 80s, a leather specific research group was created within the
Dyestuffs & Chemicals Division. The first fruits were soon reaped. The
liquid-conc. concept for chemicals was consistently implemented,
resulting in a comprehensive range of new products fully in line with
modern environmental and rationalization requirements.
In the mid-eighties a total innovation, the SELLASET trichromatic dyeing
system for leather, came onto the market. This was a major advance in
leather dyeing.
In 1990, a new chapter in leather history was opened at Ciba-Geigy. The
Dyestuffs & Chemicals Division was split, initiating a new phase of the
reorganised Business Sector Leather, now headed by Peter Schaller,. At
the same time the corporate identity of the newly organised company was
changed: Ciba-Geigy again became Ciba.
In 1996, the Ciba leather business was integrated into the newly founded
TFL LEDERTECHNIK GmbH & Co. KG together with the leather
departments of Röhm and Stockhausen, both subsidiaries of Hüls.
In 1907 Dr. Otto Röhm, a pharmacist and chemist, started successful
experiments to replace dog dung, which had been used for leather bating
for centuries, by pancreatic enzymes of slaughtered animals . In the same
year, to scale up this experimentation, he joined forces with businessman
Otto Haas to found the company Röhm & Haas in Esslingen / Neckar.
Very soon various leather factories opted to use the new product
OROPON as Otto Röhm's innovative bating technology improved the
unhygienic working conditions and eliminated the associated stench.
The huge success of the new bating technology soon brought the new
company to the limits of its capacity. The two owners were able to satisfy
their need for more space by moving to an extendable site in Darmstadt,
which also positioned them closer to the big leather factories in the RhineMain area. Furthermore, a new testing tannery was erected on the new
site to insure constant impeccable quality.
In 1911, OROPON, which by then was being distributed worldwide, was
awarded a gold medal at that year’s international hygiene exhibition in
With OROPON’s success, Otto Röhm had smoothed the way for the
industrial use of enzymes:
• 1914 in detergents
• 1920 for wound remedies
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TFL – with 300 years´experience
• 1934 to clarify apple juice
• 1946 in the manufacture of bakery products
Through consistent further development Röhm pioneered the use of
leather enzymes, including in the beamhouse:
• In the 50s, special enzymes were introduced for unhairing goat
• From 1970 until the mid eighties, novel enzymes for modern
soaking and liming were added. Furthermore, a newly developed
hair-preserving liming procedure was introduced that greatly
helped to reduce environmental pollution.
The Haas family left the company, resulting in the company name being
changed to Röhm GmbH.
Röhm diversified into finishing by acquiring K.H. Quinn in Molden, MA,
USA. This was the basis for innovations outside the beamhouse.
Hüls AG took over Röhm GmbH.
In the 90s, Röhm withdrew from all activities that had evolved from the
leather and enzyme business.
Röhm's leather sector was integrated into the newly founded company
TFL together with Ciba and Stockhausen.
Stockhausen's official company history started in 1912 with the
independent firm "Chemische Fabrik Stockhausen & Cie.". Years earlier,
however, in 1879, textile merchant Julius Stockhausen had joined the
soap factory Müller & Traiser in Krefeld. A little later, in 1881, the
company was renamed "Stockhausen & Traiser". Besides soaps, high
quality auxiliaries for the textile industry were also manufactured. The
product range grew year by year: in 1906 leather auxiliaries based on
sulfated oils and fats were manufactured: products like PRAESTABITÖL
for finishing fibers, textiles, leather and fur. The first chromium salt
resistant sulfated fatliquors for leathers and furs were also well known and
established products.
The company acquired its definitive form and name: Chemische Fabrik
Stockhausen & Cie. It started the production of the fish oil sulfonate
CORIPOL - the first fatliquor for the leather industry. The product range
now comprised auxiliaries based on sulfated fats and oils for the textile
and leather industries.
In 1930, the first sulfated electrolyte stable fatliquors for the leather and
fur industry were ready for production. For the first time they made it
possible to conduct fatliquoring processes during mineral tannage.
Before World War II Stockhausen became the first company in the world,
to put sulfated fatliquors for leather onto the market. They were
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January 2010
TFL – with 300 years´experience
characterised by their high salt and acid resistance and imparted excellent
softness and outstanding tear resistance to the leather .
In that year production of sulfochlorinated products for the texile, leather
and fur industries started. They gained a reputation as non-yellowing
smoothing agents and fatliquors.
A continuous sulfating procedure was introduced by means of which
further auxiliaries for the leather and textile industry were manufactured.
In 1991, Hüls AG, based in Marl, bought a majority interest in
In 1996, Hüls integrated the leather sectors of Stockhausen and Röhm,
both subsidiaries headed by Dr. Heider G. Krenz, into the new TFL.
Within today’s TFL yesterday's decisions have an influence beyond the
present and into the future. "History, in the broader sense of the word, is
solely the very past that still at present continues to exist constitutively in
the conscience of man." These words by Chamberlain, British prime
minister from 1937 to 1940, made up a large part of the founding
philosophy. From the first day of their tradition-steeped history , our
precursor companies have always also seen the partner in our customers.
To a high degree TFL feels committed to that tradition. Thank you Ciba.
Thank you Röhm. Thank you Stockhausen.
Since the foundation of TFL, a great deal of additional finishing know-how
has entered the company through the acquisitions of Deacolor and
Novaria in Italy, Wilmington in the USA and QUINN India. These
synergies are the basis for additional innovations that have rapidly gained
market acceptance like COOL leather and the TOPCARE SYSTEM.
TFL co-presidents Dr. Heider G. Krenz (left) and Peter Schaller putting up
the new company’s nameplate at TFL in Germany on 2.1.1996.
Not to be handed to customers