Around the middle of the 19th century, the owner of the brickworks in Schnaittach, Lorenz Wolf, also supplied his products to the gasworks in Nuremberg. It was here that he first found out about refractory bricks which were needed in large quantities for building furnaces and which, until then, had to be imported at extremely high cost from England. Immediately, his interest was stirred, as he had often noticed traces of refractory clay on his way to Nuremberg. Lorenz Wolf recognised the opportunity offered and, in 1856, founded a factory for fireclay products on the Rollhofener Höhe. This makes the Wolfshöher Tonwerke one of the oldest producers of refractory products in Germany.
One of the pioneers of the German fireclay industry, Lorenz Wolf founded the Wolfshöher Tonwerke in 1856.
Upon the death of the founder in 1878, the small but promising factory was passed on to his son Georg Wolf. Thanks to his obvious technical aptitude, he was able to carry out significant improvements on the machines and therefore considerably raise the quality and performance of production.
The construction of the new railway line between Neunkirchen and Simmelsdorf in 1897 provided the production site with a railway connection which, in the days before motorised vehicles, proved to be a key advantage. Factory II was built directly next to the railway station at Rollhofen. Here, production was concentrated on firebricks, while Factory I was exclusively dedicated to iron-ore bricks.
The company received a further boost by the purchase of clay deposits in Großbellhofen in 1902. In this way, Georg Wolf was able to secure himself a long-term supply of raw materials for his production site. It remains so to this day and, extended by additional purchases, still forms the basis of the consistent quality and reliability of Wolfshöhe products. Around 200 people were employed at this time, and at the start of the first world war the trading area extended across the whole of southern Germany, northern Switzerland and the western regions of Austria.
The youngest son of company founder Lorenz Wolf expanded the family-run company into a modern industrial operation.
In 1911, following the completion of their technical and commercial training, the three sons, Lorenz, Jakob and Georg Wolf, joined the company upon the founding of the “Wolfshöher Tonwerke GmbH”. This marked the beginning of a new development phase in which the company’s position on the market was stabilised by rationalisation measures and quality improvements ‒ all this in spite of the drastic interruptions due to the events of the war and the post-war years. Thanks to the soundfinancial and technical foundations on which the Wolfshöher Tonwerke were built, the setbacks arising from both world wars were not sufficient to destabilise the company.
Lorenz Wolf led the company’s sales offices in Nuremberg and Munich. Jakob Wolf took charge of technical matters at the factories. Georg Wolf was responsible for the commercial side of operations.
Having survived the difficult post-war years, the Wolfshöher Tonwerke profited from the general economic upturn. Hubert Wolf joined the Wolfshöher Tonwerke in 1949 and influenced the development of the company through to the 1980s. As the only surviving member of the fourth generation of the family, he expanded the customer base during the 1950s and began with the modernisation of the production facilities. In the mid-1960s, Georg Wolf, a representative of the fifth generation, entered the company. A qualified engineer, he systematically forged ahead with the factory modernisation process.
Due to illness, Hubert Wolf withdrew from the management in 1988. Commercial management of the Wolfshöher Tonwerke was taken over by Konrad Kügel, who was named Executive Director in 1988. In 2007, Georg Wolf handed over management of the company to his daughter Ulrike Wolf.
Hubert Wolf joined the Wolfshöher Tonwerke in 1949 and influenced the development of the company through to the 1980s.
Georg Wolf streamlined the brick factory’s product portfolio, concentrating on high-quality niche products, and continued with the modernisation of the factories and operations.
From a pioneer of the fireclay industry in southern Germany to one of the country’s leading traditional fireclay manufacturers – for over 150 years now, the “Wolfshöher Tonwerke” have been a byword for quality products and customer orientation. Today, the company, owned by the sixth generation of the Wolf family, is a specialist in fireclay for stoves and ceramic chimney pipes serving the whole of Germany. The use of the latest technology, employee training and collaboration with customers guarantees efficient operation, high product quality and tailor-made solutions. Today, the Wolfshöher Tonwerke is a modern family-run company combining well-founded specialist know-how and reliability with flexibility and a solution-oriented approach.
Since the 1990s, Konrad Kügel has successfully pursued a policy of continuously increasing market share for ceramic products on the domestic and international markets, as well as restructuring the company.
In 2006, ceramics engineer Ulrike Kutscha-Wolf, daughter of Georg Wolf, began her involvement in the company and added an MBA to her other qualifications. Since then she has been taking responsibility for both the ongoing modernization of fabrication and monitoring and development of all ceramic processes.