Interview with Herbert Kemmerich

From a start-up to a hidden champion




Takeover Treplás, Spain

Jokey continues to opt for its diversification with the acquisition of Treplás. The Spanish packaging producer is also a family-owned business with a long tradition: founded in 1971. The production site is located in Molina de Segura in the region of Murcia, about 200 kilometers in the south of Valencia. 40 employees produce packaging for the food industry but also closures, caps and customized solutions for beauty and homecare. The businesses are still managed by the  Rubio Ruiz brothers. The construction of a new and modern production facility is planned for the year 2019. The philosophy of both family-owned companies is focused on greatest proximity to the customer. And this supplements just as well as the product range.


Founding of Jokey Plastik Uljanovsk, Russia

After the successful market development in Russia and Kazakhstan, Jokey is in urgent need of a production facility of its own in the Russian Federation. The decision is taken for Uljanovsk situated next to the  river Volga, about 900 kilometres east of Moscow. The first visit of the property of 90,000 square kilometres is made on a very cold winter  day. The river Volga is frozen. The future factory premises are covered with a thick layer of snow. It is hardly conceivable that here, after a three year construction period, buckets will be produced in a state-of- the-art production facility. First, 1,200 concrete pillars are needed to anchor the building safely in the marshy ground. Today, Jokey Plastik Uljanovsk is one of the most modern Jokey plants. There is room for more: expansions plans are already on the table.


Takeover KristallForm Spiegel

With the takeover of KristallForm Spiegel GmbH, Jokey Sohland becomes the biggest producer of mirrors in Germany. The company is the market leader in this branch with a production of more than one million square meters of mirror surface per year. Apart from sanitary mirrors the range includes light mirrors, MME range (multi-media-equipped), ornament mirrors, and framed mirrors. This acquisition widens the already successful Jokey Spa production. This enables the group of companies to strengthen and expanding this line of business.


Takeover Sieper and Imagolux

The Kemmerich brothers further develop their diversification strategy: the Jokey Spa division grows. From now on, the family brand Jokey also consists of the brands Sieper and Imagolux. With this, Jokey Spa is expanding its product range of modern bathrooms by mirror cabinets, steam showers, infrared cabins, bathroom furniture, and mirrors – from classic to design-orientated styles- at the plant Jokey Plastik Sohland.


Takeover of Jokey BG Beograd

Serbia is located between the sites Praha and Istanbul – strategically favourable located in the centre of the Balkans. The production site in Beograd is particularly important for Jokey since it is an ideal starting point to cover further markets in Eastern Europe.

Already after eight years after the founding, the plant is bursting at all seams thanks to high volume of orders. Therefore, the Jokey group purchases an additional property, with nearly 70,000 square meters, in the vicinity of the existing plant. In 2018 Jokey BG Beograd grows again: a sales office is founded in Romania. The subsidiary should strengthen and expand market shares.


Founding of Jokey Egypt

When Jokey opens the plant in Badr City/ Cairo, after a construction period of nearly three years, there are primarily two reasons decisive: the population is growing above average in the fertile Nile delta and the ongoing industrialisation is picking up speed. A considerable market volume opens up for Jokey. Jokey Egypt is especially doing well in the painting industry. In the future, an increasing number of customers from the food industry should be gained.


Founding of Jokey Plastics North America, Canada

Existing connections to a major customer are decisive for taking the plunge to North America. Jokey invests 10 million euros in a new production plant in the Canadian province Ontario - then the major customer is lost totally unexpectedly. That means for Jokey: a completely new market both in Canada and in the USA needs to be opened up. This is a market in which the needs of the customers are completely different. As many times before, the rescue comes from the R&D department. Here, the technicians quickly develop suitable packaging sizes and packaging designs.


Founding of Jokey Plastik Mogilew, Belarus

Further away, bigger and faster. Jokey meets the need of several strategic considerations with the positioning in Belarus. The customer’s demand is huge in the vast Russian Federation. New regions reaching up to the 3,000 kilometers far away Kazakhstan want to be supplied with plastic packaging. The plant in the Belarusian City of Mogilew is the largest of all Jokey’s production facilities. It is also the fastest growing one. Today, Jokey is the market leader in the Russian Federation and in Kazakhstan.


Takeover Meik Werkzeugbau

How can consistent quality and reliability be guaranteed permanently in mould construction? In 2002 Jokey finds the long sought  answer  to this important question: the group of companies integrates an own toolmaking. The new company Jokey Werkzeugbau is located halfway between Wipperfürth and Gummersbach. From this plant, employees make, on a large scale, engineering, mould production, repairs, and modifications of injection moulds for the whole Jokey group. With this step and in combination with the R&D department, Jokey is state-of-the-art today.


Founding Joktal, Algeria – as a joint venture

Next destination: North Africa. With the decision to act on the African continent, the Jokey group defines completely new demands for the constantly persuaded internationalisation. More than before in Europe, we must overcome cultural and country specific differences. Jokey’s management  is supported by its Algerian partner, the Taleb family. They jointly founded a joint venture and both company names merge to the name Joktal. From now on, the new name appears in red letters below the horse rider logo. Since its founding, the Algerian plant has been permanently expanded and modernized.


Founding of Jokey Plastik Praha, Czech Republic

In the same year, Jokey consistently pursues the opening of the Eastern European market with the purchase of a building in Mochov not far from Praha. In addition to the existing buildings, a new injection department and a modern high-bay warehouse are built. The Czech plant is a real success story: nowadays, more than 80 per cent of the produced products end-up on the Eastern European market.


Founding of Jokey Plastik Istanbul, Turkey

Two years later, Jokey starts with the production and marketing of plastic packaging in Gebze which is situated about 60 km south of Istanbul. The country is experiencing an economic upswing. From the Turkish site, Jokey can successfully open up the South Eastern European market.

But then, in 1999, a severe earthquake occurs. Huge parts of the newly built plant sink into the ground. The production is heavily affected. Also the inflation rate of up to 80 per cent must be mastered. Those responsible from Jokey search together with the local partners for a solution. In 2014 the Turkish production site will be built completely new in a neighbouring town. A three-storey and earthquake-proof building that is built on rocks. Today, Jokey Istanbul is one of the most modern Jokey locations.


Founding of Jokey Plastik Blachownia, Poland

From the Saxon town of Sohland we move towards Poland. The second foreign branch of Jokey is established on the premises of the former company IG-Farben in the area of Silesia. Huge property sites, ailing building structures: the transformation of this site into an ultra-modern production site is real pioneering work. During the two-year construction period, Egon Kemmerich, one of the four brothers, is always on site. In Eastern Europe prevails a sense of new beginnings. The consumption of plastic packaging is considerable lower than in the Western European market. The growth potential is sufficient for inspiring the Jokey vision to open up the newly opened markets. Nowadays, Jokey has five production sites in Eastern Europe.


Takeover Formaplast

In 1989 the fall of the Berlin Wall leads to a political change in Eastern Europe. In the course of the reunification an enormous economic transformation process results. Major changes become apparent – also at Jokey. After the reunification the group of companies takes giants steps to the direction of Eastern Europe. At first, Jokey makes its presence felt in the new federal stated of Germany. In Sohland near Dresden the group of companies takes over the company Formaplast and modernized the plant with outdated infrastructure from the ground up. Besides the production of plastic packaging, Jokey is now producing bathroom furniture and technical plastic components. Diversification is the catchphrase. Today, Jokey is also a market leader in this field.


Expansion of the plant Wipperfürth

In the mid-1980s the founding plant in Fähnrichstüttem is bursting at all seams. In 1983 the go-ahead is given for an entire rebuilding of the former Vorwerk building, which is partly listed for preservation, in Wipperfürth-Niedergaul. The newly renovated buildings can finally be put into operation    in 1986. Considerable investments, a lot of willingness and patience are required. Until today, this site is, besides the plant in Gummersbach, one of the two headquarters.


Opening Jokey Plastik Gummersbach

In June 1981 Jokey experiences a first huge setback. A large fire destroys the complete printing department of the plant in Gummersbach. The Kemmerich family decides to build a completely new production hall and printing department in Gummersbach-Rebbelroth. Until the printing department has been completed the Jokey products need to be labelled laboriously by hand. The decision for the new building proves to be path-breaking. Since then, the plant has been continuously modernized and expanded. From 2014-2016 the complete plant is being technically restructured – during ongoing production. With this, the course for the industry 4.0 is determined.


Takeover Sicopal, France

At the Pack Emballage in Paris in 1981, Jokey presents itself as the only German supplier.  At the last day of the fair and totally unexpected, the first big opportunity for internationalisation opens up. The French competitor Sicopal offers his company for sale to the four Kemmerich brothers. Similar products, an impressive know- how concerning  packaging  design, an attractive offer, six months later Sicopal belongs to Jokey. The plant in northern France is Jokey’s first foreign branch – and a strategically perfect starting point to tap into the French and British markets. Today, Jokey is a leading player in the Western European market.


Takeover Sure Plastik, Gummersbach

The oil crisis at the beginning of the 1970s shakes the whole plastic industry. Sure Plastik, the competitor at that time, does not survive this crisis and goes bankrupt. The Kemmerich brothers see a risk in the takeover but, at the same, also a chance. At that time Jokey is the smallest producer of plastic packaging in the German market. The competitor from Gummersbach is three times as large. Competing companies shake their heads in pessimism. Jokey is facing its greatest challenge so far. And then starts off again. Sure Plastik completes Jokey Plastik with an interesting product portfolio and a long standing market expertise. With this successful expansion, the vision changes, too. The signs of the time point to growth. Jokey steers to new markets with self-confidence.


Foundation of Jokey Plastik Wipperfürth

It has all started in the small village of Fähnrichstüttem in the south of Wipperfürth. Here, Josef Kemmerich founded the company Jokey Plastik Wipperfürth   in 1968: a small  garage,  five  employees,  two second-hand machines  and  a lot of handicraft – a start-up from the “oberbergische” region that started with   the production of thermoplastic. The business idea: buckets, and a handful of plastic products. The company name Jokey is composed of the initials of the founder’s name, the attached Y is an idea of the former graphic artist. With this,  the logo of the horse rider is born

The auditor thinks that the young business has no particular good  chances. Since, at the end of the 1960s, plastic products are only produced for house-   hold goods and not for packaging. Instead packaging is made of tinplate, aluminium or glass. Josef Kemmerich let himself not to be put off; he puts lids on the buckets and realises his business idea with the typical stubbornness of the “bergische” rural population. The zeitgeist proves him right. In the eyes of the customers, plastic packaging turns out to be a stiff, unbreakable and a cheap alternative for conventional packaging. In 1975 the company founder dies – the foundation stone is laid.

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