From the File to the Spring Pin: 175 Years of Ferdinand Bilstein

Production in the 1950s and today

Ennepetal 1844: There is still no sign of cars. Horses are the preferred means of transport – also for Ferdinand Daniel Bilstein. He has just founded a new company named after him in collaboration with his father. That 175 years later this would become a global company with over 2,000 employees was something he probably never even dreamed of at the time.

Today’s Ferdinand Bilstein GmbH + Co KG and the small company of 1844 have one thing in common: the location of Ennepetal. The company still has its headquarters here and is firmly rooted in the region. It was not until 2017 that a new production site was built in the immediate vicinity of the headquarters. Now, replacement parts for passenger cars and commercial vehicles come off the assembly line every day and are delivered all over the world.

It All Began with Files and Pocket Knives

The workforce at the turn of the century

175 years ago, the product portfolio was a whole different story. Files, chisels, drills, pocket knives: Ferdinand Bilstein dealt in these and other metal goods. They were partially produced in the two hammer mills of his father, Johann Daniel, or by local blacksmiths. They were transported by horse and cart to customers all over Germany, as well as to Switzerland and Italy.

It was not until the 20th century that the company’s focus shifted to the up-and-coming automotive industry. At that time, the company was managed by Hans Carl Ferdinand Bilstein and his brother, Paul Julius Bilstein. As early as 1921, they acquired a patent for a spring pin, which went into series production under the name “febi spring pin” in 1925. With the success of the pin, the new company abbreviation “febi” quickly became the company’s own brand.

In-House and Purchased Products

Little by little, additional in-house produced articles were added to the range. From the 1970s onwards the company was no longer able to satisfy the great demand with its own products alone – commercial goods then joined the range. Today, more than 60,000 different replacement parts are offered. Nevertheless, the in-house production is still an important pillar of the company – many things do not change in 175 years.