The owner-managed family business in its current form is based on the group of Züchner packaging companies, which date back to 1797. Heinrich Züchner produced the first tin can in Germany in 1830. Over the next 160 years, the Züchners braved many crises – including an insolvency in the early 1920s – wartime turmoil and economic and political upheavals. In the second half of the 20th century the company finally grew to become the largest family-run can maker in Europe. At the beginning of the 1990s, however, the entrepreneurial family was no longer able to hold its own against the strong, group-driven international competition. As a result the entire production, which had been located in Seesen/Harz since 1797, was sold off step by step. The trading division remained unaffected by this. The time for the new Dosen-Zentrale Züchner GmbH to shine had come.
Dosen-Zentrale Züchner – a packaging wholesaler with a long history
Sheet metal, glass and plastic packaging, cardboard packaging, labels and logistics
One of the oldest packaging companies in Germany introduces itself...
In the corridor in the administration building there is an ancestral gallery dating back to 1797. This is when Johann Friedrich August Züchner founded the family dynasty. As a master tinsmith, he still made lamps, writing utensils, tin shingles for house cladding and gutters. But his son, Heinrich, also a master tinsmith, is regarded as the first tin can manufacturer in Germany. That was in 1830 in Seesen/Harz. The diplomat Baron van Campen was introduced to summer fruits, preserved according to Appert's method, at the French court and learned to appreciate them. Back home, he asked the master tinsmith from the neighbouring Seesen/Harz to make him "preservative cans".
A few years later, Heinrich Züchner's son, Rudolph, took over the business and expanded it increasingly in the following years. Despite the new "gutter regulation", which obliged citizens to install gutters and would have guaranteed that the tinsmith’s order books were full, he devoted himself more and more to can production. He quickly realised that the cans would have to be processed by bottlers, i.e. canners. In 1886, he founded a canning factory with Heinrich Sieburg in Seesen, but left the company just three years later to found his own. Rudolf Züchner died just one year later. His eldest son Fritz, later listed in the chronicle as "the elder", stepped in as the next generation.
His brother Otto took over the tinsmithing. Fritz Züchner concentrated entirely on the production of tin packaging and tinned food and built up a series production for cans.
He also made sure that the farmers in the region grew "preservable vegetables". By doing this, he ensured reliable sales of the local products, supplies for the canning industry and at the same time the expansion of the canning supply.
By the outbreak of the First World War Fritz Züchner had expanded the former factory into a group of companies with several locations and up to 2000 employees. In addition to cans for canning, "tin bottles" were also produced for the paint industry. Züchner had set up a kind of works canteen to supply his employees. Most of the food came from the factory’s own cultivation.
Despite many efforts to preserve it, inflation finally drove the company into insolvency in 1925. Fritz Züchner lost his production facilities and assets. Shortly afterwards, however, in 1926, his son (Fritz Züchner, the younger) founded a new company for can production. By the early 1930s, the new Züchner'sche Blechwarenfabrik was once again one of the largest producers. After the Second World War Züchner continued to expand, focusing on advertising, field sales and customer service. The "good Züchner can - DIN 14" quickly became a hallmark for the highest quality. With the change at the top to Manfred Züchner, the "family business" finally became the largest owner-managed tinplate packaging manufacturer in Europe.
In 1983, a major fire destroyed the entire production plant and adjacent warehouses. Despite reconstruction and a return to production, the company was unable to match its pre-disaster performance. Increasing international competition, price pressure and changed market conditions also made it necessary to sell first 80% of the company's shares (production) in 1989 and then the remaining 20% in 1994 (to CarnaudMetalbox, which in turn was later taken over by Crown Cork&Seal Company). The trade division, Dosen-Zentrale, remained with the Züchners. The owner and managing director today is Fritz Andreas Züchner, the seventh Züchner generation.
Fritz Züchner (the younger) had already founded the Dosen-Zentrale in Leipzig in December 1934 as a trading and distribution company. This represented a new market in addition to the production of cans and their sale to vegetable and fruit bottling companies. Slaughterhouses, butchers and households were targeted specifically. Its special feature was the decentralised local and regional supply of small quantities to meet demand. This is a unique selling point that is still the basis and success factor of the company today. The business grew rapidly, but soon the company had to move to West Germany, to be precise, to Seesen/Harz in 1948 and then soon after to Düsseldorf in 1949. There, too, growth continued steadily. In the 1980s the space was no longer sufficient. In Hilden, directly on the city limits of Düsseldorf, the company first moved to Niedenstrasse and then in 2001 to its current location in Lise-Meitner-Strasse.
After the sale of the tin can production, the sales activities of the new Dosen-Zentrale Züchner in Hilden were further expanded. Plastic (cans, buckets) as well as the classic WECK preserving jars had already been added to the product range in the 1980s. As before, the focus was initially on small quantities for butchers and industrial bottlers.
The original core business of the "can distribution centre" is still one of the three main business areas today. In the meantime, however, we have expanded the target groups to include the entire artisanal processing or production of food, i.e. bakers, winegrowers, brewers, oil and mustard mills, farm shops and self-marketers. Today we summarise this business field under the term food trade. With our in-house digital label printing plant, we offer these customers in particular individual solutions for small quantities.
Since the early 2000s, new customer relationships with food retailers, C&C markets and other retailers have added a new segment that now accounts for a significant proportion of our business volume. In addition to individual sales solutions for homemade products in jars, since 2015 we have also been offering our own brand Einkochwelt.
Currently, in 2020, Dosen-Zentrale Züchner GmbH is again expanding its range of goods and services. With the new company and brand Table Z, we are targeting hotels, restaurants, caterers, canteen operators and communal catering facilities.
Johann Friedrich August Züchner, 1762-1839, from Anhalt-Bernburg, settles in Gandersheim/Harz as a master tinsmith
Heinrich Züchner, 1795-1862, produces the first tin can in Germany in 1830
Rudolf Züchner, 1846-1890, develops the first can seaming machine
Fritz Züchner (the elder), 1870-1950, expands the manufactory into a group of companies with several factories and up to 2000 employees
Fritz Züchner (the younger), 1898-1977, founds a new company following insolvency in 1926. From now on "the good Züchner tin DIN 14" is synonymous with quality
Manfred Züchner, 1928, turns it into Europe's largest can producer
Fritz Andreas Züchner, 1962, (successor of the original founder in seventh Generation) leads the company as a wholesaler for sheet metal, glass and plastic packaging with trade relations in 20 countries worldwide.