In 1902, Ludwig Van Hessen founded the natural sausage casing company Van Hessen & Zoon in Groningen. When he began to find Groningen too restricted a market, Ludwig suggested expanding the business to Rotterdam. The new premises in Rotterdam opened in 1914. Business activities also expanded across the border. In Hamburg, a hypermodern factory (by the standards of the time) was built.
Because the province of Groningen was deemed too small by managing director Ludwig van Hessen, he moved operations from Groningen to Rotterdam in 1914. The company’s operations expanded to Germany and Van Hessen built a very modern factory in Hamburg to service its growing business. However, because of the political situation in Germany, the most significant business interests of the company were maintained outside of Germany.
By 1931, Ludwig van Hessen had done quite well for himself and another member of the family, Paul, was hoping to become involved in the family business. Paul van Hessen was the son of Ludwig’s nephew. In 1933, Paul joined the company and quickly learned the trade. Ultimately, Ludwig felt sufficiently comfortable to leave the day-to-day business in Paul’s hands.
However, when Paul had to do his military service in 1934, Ludwig became involved with the business to deal with some day-to-day issues of the business. Also, Ludwig pioneered the routes to China when competition for European casings became too tough. Ludwig found good quality casings at excellent prices in China and was able to turn a healthy profit.
By 1937, the company reached a pre-war high turnover of 750,000 Dutch Guilders but World War II would intervene and profoundly affect the fortunes of both the company as well as the Van Hessen family. In 1940, a new company was formed under the name of Netherlands Industry of Animal By-Products and all the assets of the old company were placed in the newly formed entity to protect it from confiscation by the Nazi occupiers. Van Hessen remained on the board of the new entity and the Van Hessen family business was placed under the care of several trusted confidants.
Paul van Hessen escaped to London where he became an air force officer and flew 25 missions above enemy territory for the RAF and the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service.
After the end of the war in 1945, it became clear that Paul’s parents and Ludwig van Hessen perished in Nazi concentration camps. Ludwig’s daughters did return and together with Paul and a number of loyal colleagues re-started operations after the war. The company started growing again engaged in acquisitions and set up affiliates to help with its growing business. Van Hessen was doing business with South America, the United States, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. In the 1950s trade with China increased and the company was at full throttle by 1955.
Business boomed. Van Hessen was conducting business activities in South America, the United States, the Middle East and Australia. In the 1950s, trade with China was record breaking.
In 1964, the company moved into a new head office in Rotterdam. In 1993, Van Hessen began a joint venture with Shanghai Star Casings and in 1994 the company moved into its current head office in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel. In 2002, new premises in Shanghai were acquired. In 2008, the requirements outgrew these new premises, and an even bigger location was acquired. As of 2010, Van Hessen is opening branches in Hong Kong, Belgium and Romania. Its partners are active in Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, the UK and the USA. From our branches in these countries, we serve the entire world.
This success story may seem to involve nothing more than periodic relocations to new premises, but this is merely the most externally visible by-product of our internal quality policy. This quality policy
strongly focuses on continuous technical innovation and investment in employee development - two essential ingredients for success.