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1856 to today - the history of WDI

Three letters symbolising wire

Westfälische Drahtindustrie was founded in 1856 and was listed as a public limited company in 1872, without the obligation to include the suffix "AG" in the company name; a privilege that has remained permanent. With only a brief interruption, the company name "WDI" was the symbol in letters for the wire production site in Hamm, Westphalia – for a period of over 160 years.


During the early days of the wire industry in Hamm, the brothers Wilhelm and Johann-Caspar Hobrecker (sons of a Sauerland ironmaking family) took over their father's business – a forge located at the north gate of Hamm They manufacture bicycle spokes and agricultural chains, among other things
The name Hobrecker became an integral part of the development of the wire industry in Hamm. The family history can be traced back to 1313 - the name was formed from "Hobräck" - a lonely farm on the "Brachfeld auf der Höhe" (in Dahl near Altena).


The "Concession for the establishment of an iron rolling mill on the site and on the slope of the former sawmill at the Nordenthor in Hamm", granted by the Royal Prussian Government in Arnsberg, now enables the industrial production of drawn wires for further processing, e.g. into binding wires and nails, using the water power of the Lippe; there is also a rolling mill for the production of sheet metal, which results in the manufacture of furnace tubes and boilers, among other things.

The company name was initially "Gebrüder Hobrecker", later changed to "Wilhelm Hobrecker". Connections with the Krupp company were already established at this time (due to the supply of primary material), as can be seen from an exchange of letters from 1821/22 "to Mr Krop in Essen" (a little later also to Mr Kroup).
Friedrich Krupp was visiting his cousin D. Schmitz in Hamm and had also visited the Hobrecker Bros. factories and said that he could be asked for advice at any time.

Carl Hobrecker, a son of the founder Wilhelm Hobrecker, was familiar with the technical innovations from travelling in England.
He recognises the need for industrialisation, separates from the parent company in 1854 and joins forces with the factory owners Hermann and Julius Witte and Hermann Herbers from Iserlohn.



This is where the real story of the Westphalian wire industry begins.


In this year, another wire factory is founded: Hobrecker, Witte & Herbers
It is located on a huge site (60,000 square metres) near the railway line connecting Cologne and Minden and the important road connection to Unna and Dortmund. Steam power is now used here (for the first time in Europe in a wire mill) to produce wire rod and drawn wire.


From 1865, the main factory was named "Eduard Hobrecker" after the owner at the time, Eduard Hobrecker (1842 - 1872). His brother Otto becomes his successor and relocates the company further north to the site of the so-called "Hammer Hütte". He replaced the water power of the Lippe with steam engines and the plant was connected to the railway.


At a general meeting in the hall of the "Gasthof zum Grafen von der Mark", it is decided to rename the wireworks "Aktiengesellschaft Westphälischer Draht-Industrie-Verein", and the entry in the commercial register is made on 15 December. The new public limited company takes over the factory facilities, machines and staff of the company "Hobrecker, Witte & Herbers". It becomes "...the largest establishment in the world for the manufacture of wire rod, drawn wire and wire nails..." as the Berliner Handels-Gesellschaft reported in the Kölnische Zeitung newspaper. Carl Hobrecker's sons, Hermann and Stephan, are the first directors of the new public limited company.

Many eventful years later...


A change in ownership gives rise to Vereinigte Drahtindustrie GmbH (initially VDI, from 1974 VDG). The merger of WDI with Klöckner-Drahtindustrie (KDI), Düsseldorf - with plants in Düsseldorf, Ründeroth, Kehl and Göppingen - was the result of strategic group decisions, whereby the processing of the wire rod produced in the steelworks was of primary importance.


After giving up its wire rod interests, Krupp divested itself of WDI and transferred its shareholding to Klöckner-Werke AG, so that in 1978 WDI became a Klöckner Group company trading under the name Klöckner Draht GmbH. The development of the company on the fringes of the Klöckner steel group was not exactly favourable, and financial problems at Klöckner-Werke AG led to various considerations to liquidate the company, e.g. partial sale of large plant areas to LEG for the construction of a shopping centre, merger with Thyssen Draht or sale of the company to Voestalpine.


Fortunately, these plans failed, so that an unusual arrangement came about, namely the sale of Klöckner Draht, 1/3 of the shares each, to Mr Grosse, Dr Weiland and Mr Pampus in 1987.Although there was a friendly business relationship with Hamburger Stahlwerke through Mr Grosse and Dr Weiland, the decisive factor was that when Werner Pampus joined as a partner and managing director, the company could be run as a non-group company according to the principles of a medium-sized enterprise, and once again under the old venerable name: Westfälische Drahtindustrie GmbH (WDI

Under the leadership of Werner Pampus, WDI becomes the largest independent wire manufacturer in Europe.


Katja Pampus takes over the management.

The trained industrial clerk comes from a Westphalian family of entrepreneurs and is the second generation after her father Werner Pampus to successfully run Europe's largest, independent quality wire manufacturer. She has been a managing partner since 2009 and manages WDI with 15 locations and almost 1,300 employees.

She is committed to the preservation of European unity and is an active member of the VDU - Association of German Women Entrepreneurs. Since 2019, she has also been a member of the Board of the German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (BVMW).


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