The history of Piepenbrock – A tradition of progress

Piepenbrock can reflect on 100 years of a family-run, company history. Plenty has changed since the business was founded on 13 April 1913, yet one thing has remained true: family members still at the helm - currently in the 4th generation.

It is the constant flexibility, agility and adaptability that have enabled the professional services provider to look back on a successful century of business. The entrepreneurial spirit, drive and flair of the previous generations have established the foundation for today's success.
Hartwig Piepenbrock played a special role in the company's history. As Managing Partner for more than 51 years, the fate of Piepenbrock was in his hands and he succeeded in building a company that became one of the largest family-run companies in the whole of Germany. With his entrepreneurial vision, he passed the baton to his sons Olaf and Arnulf Piepenbrock quite early on, allowing for the further development of the Piepenbrock Group and setting it up for the future.

Piepenbrock's focus remains on customer proximity, competence, skills, reliability, quality, innovation, efficiency, sustainability and fairness. These are the values that shape the approach taken by the building services provider. The customers, with whom the company has established long-standing partnerships based on mutual respect, are the ones who benefit. The employees play a central role: their loyalty, their expertise and their motivation are key to providing the best possible service. They also embody Piepenbrock's commitment to sustainability, as without their tireless efforts, it would not be possible to achieve our balanced economic, ecological and social approach.

August Etgeton: An entrepreneurial pioneer for glass and building cleaning services (1913–1920)

In April 1913, August Etgeton, a man from humble beginnings, founded his "Window Cleaning Institute" in Osnabrück in order to profit from the rapid development of the emerging industrial city. This was followed, just a few months later, by an "Institute for Room Cleaning", offering those well off the chance to have their furnishings cleaned with a modern, electric "dust removal machine". The number of customers increased and August Etgeton was soon also cleaning theatres, hotels and factories.


Growth and destruction (1920–1945)

August Etgeton's focus, after returning from war, was to expand the business. In 1920, he introduced ladder scaffolding; horses and carts arrived five years later and then a warehouse was found for storing the machinery of his growing trade. He also began offering stone cleaning. Despite hard times, the company grew and gained renown: in the 1930s, August Etgeton was a member of the state guild management board, for what was now an officially recognised trade.


Eduard Piepenbrock: Reconstruction and expansion (1945–1971)

Returning as a prisoner of war, Etgeton's son-in-law Eduard Piepenbrock joined the company, for which he had sole responsibility following the death of Elisabeth Etgeton in 1953. With Osnabrück in ruins, the most important task was to reinforce the historic and public building, yet there was further expansion in the early 1950s when the company broadened its scope again to include all cleaning services. Interior and contract cleaning become the most important avenues of business.


Hartwig Piepenbrock: Service and industry group under the one roof (1971–1988)

At the start of the 1970s, Piepenbrock turned its attention to hospital cleaning and set standards in this segment that were applied nationwide. The company grew to become the largest cleaning services company in Germany following a number of take-overs. It was already time for the central services to find bigger quarters: new buildings for technical services and central administration appeared on Hannoversche Strasse in Osnabrück.

Go East: Expansion and focus (1989–2001)

The political upheaval in Eastern Europe brings large orders for the packaging division. After the fall of the wall in 1989, Piepenbrock also made the most of its opportunities in the new federal states and established a number of branches here for the service segment. Starting in 1992, Piepenbrock attempts to expand the business in Central and Eastern Europe, however these efforts prove too much for too little profit. At the end of the decade, the company returns its focus to the German market.


The fourth generation: Diversification and sustainability (2001–2013)

As the new millennium starts, the new board of management strengthens the technical management division and improves nationwide customer support. On the basis of large individual orders, Piepenbrock expands the new area of industrial maintenance, as well as the security segment. In 2008, the company expands to Austria again. The machine building subsidiaries assume market leadership with innovative developments for the various types of packaging. 

Successful start to the next 100 years (2014 - 2018)

The second Piepenbrock-century starts out successfully: Here, it is still the subject of sustainability playing a key role. Five times in a row, the family business has been awarded  as one of Germany’s top employers by the professional journal Focus. Piepenbrock opens up to additional business fields. Amongst others, the company now offers its customers services within the segments of cleanroom cleaning, inspection services, energy management as well as winter services. Piepenbrock consistently extends its technical competencies in order to support its clients with integrated facility management services.