120 years of refractory production in Breitscheid (Germany)


The venture that was founded on the basis of clay and coal deposits has now – 120 years later – become a global manufacturing concern supplying specialised refractory products to customers in the ceramics and furnace construction sectors, but above all in the booming steel industry.

Trading under the name ‘Westerwälder Thonindustrie’, the company soon gave the town of Breitscheid (Germany) a striking landmark with its tall chimney stack. Generations of locals found work here. The size of the workforce reached a peak of around 350 employees in 1950. The discontinuation of mining activities and increasing automation saw a reduction in the number of employees to the current level of 85.

In 2017, the site was taken over by the Steuler Group (Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany). The company invested heavily in Breitscheid after the takeover, thereby securing the existing jobs.

Within a few months of the takeover, investment in new hydraulic dry presses brought the production site up to the same technical level as that of the main works in Höhr-Grenzhausen, with production moving towards full capacity. But the story doesn’t end there: a BigBag unloading station for raw material preparation as well as two additional extruder presses are also being planned. The seven-figure investment has been made against a background of healthy Steuler Group sales that recently reached over €434m.