In an era in which the processing and packaging of vegetables was still hard work, Gerd Gillenkirch was clear: “There must be an easier and better way, there need ago effective solutions.” Today, the equipment may have changed, but the commitment and passion are left!
> 1950s | Background
> 1960s | Starting point
> 1970s | Foundation
In 1970, Gerd Gillenkirch received his first foreign assignment, for the company "Steffen Ris AG" in Switzerland. He was to connect "Puricelli" weighing machines with Stöckel packaging machines. Shortly afterwards, he married Brigitte.
Between 1971 and 1976, Gerd and Brigitte established a family. Their children Andrea, Martina and Michael were born. Today all three work in the family company.
In 1973, Gerd built his own first workshop, in the garage of his father's potato business. He began to repair machines independently, and to construct small conveyor belts.
In 1976 there followed two patents for a "bag-packing machine" and an "automatic scale for weighing", and these form the foundation of the current business. Gerd then sold the patent to the company "Lookwood" in the Netherlands. "Lookwood" then built many weighing machines, and Gerd Gillenkirch took over the maintenance of the machines.
> 1980s | Turning point
> 1990s | Development
With the reunification of Germany, the nineties started well. Michael Gillenkirch joined the company in 1993, and new opportunities were opening up for plant engineering in West and East Germany.
In 1995 and 1996, the company received the biggest orders in its history so far. The construction of two weighing and packaging plants, including bunker systems, for Kartoffel Braun and a company in the east of Germany. These projects formed an important basis for the subsequent plant designs.
At the same time, the packaging machines were developed further, and the first professional brochures and a small advertisement were prepared.
In the mid-nineties, a further key decision was made that determined the quality of the machines and plants today. The production system was redesigned, the machines began to be manufactured from stainless steel, and additional employees were hired.
> 2000s | Growth
In the early 2000s, an insolvent conveyor belt manufacturer was taken over, and in 2001 the company built a new plant building for manufacturing machinery and conveyor belts in Bremervörde.
With the turn of the century, the company expanded its sales area, making worldwide contacts with reliable representatives for the sale and service of the machines and plants manufactured.
In 2001, the company completed its first plant project, packaging carrots for "Rocky Lamattina" in Australia. Shortly thereafter, in 2003, its sister company "Russel Lamattina" ordered a packaging plant for potatoes. The entire plant was built out of stainless steel, and the first-class processing set a new quality standard for the entire industry.
Many more plants followed worldwide, and in 2008 we received the order for another important reference plant. The company Moespom in Belgium contracted Gillenkirch to build a small, high-quality polishing, sorting and packaging plant. In order to receive international clients, the company was simultaneously constructing a new administration building, and had plenty of space for new ideas and good solutions.
In 2009 / 2010, for the first time, Gillenkirch presented itself as whole to the outside world. A company image was built up, a complete catalogue prepared, and a new website and our first company film were completed. At the same time, the engineering department refined the details of the machines in terms of quality and hygiene, and introduced 3D visualisation to the process for preparing blueprints.
> 2010s | Generation changeover
In 2010, the company received an order from "AK-Agarkontor" for the construction of a high-quality washing and sorting plant for table potatoes. Both plant sections were manufactured to be first-class, down to the smallest detail, and combined to produce a high-performance plant, setting a further milestone for quality and hygiene.
After the successful completion of the project, the company received the largest order in the history of the company so far. The construction of a washing and bunker system for a leading manufacturer of French fries in the USA. The plant was manufactured in 2012 at the three locations of Dinslaken, Bremervörde and Jihlava. The plant in the USA went operational in January 2013, with a total capacity of over 30,000 truckloads of potatoes per year. The successful realisation sets new standards for design, quality, hygiene and capacity requirements.
At the same time, the company expanded its facility in Bremervörde. In May 2012, the company broke the ground for the construction of the new storage and loading hall, and in September the company had a total area of 3000m² available for manufacturing machinery and conveyor belts.
In order to meet the growing demand for plant engineering, the company joined forces with Rostislav Bucek to found the company Fresh Link & Packaging Solutions, with its registered office in the Czech Republic.
In 2014/2015, Gillenkirch realised an entire plant design for processing table potatoes in Canada. This was the first time that such a complex plant design was realised in a single assembly stage, as in the past similar projects were developed over the course of several years. Simultaneously, Michael Gillenkirch, the Managing Director of Engineering and Sales, succeeded his father to take over responsibility for Gillenkirch Packaging Systems as Managing Director.