Through the decades with PARAT
We are celebrating PARAT’s 75th anniversary! From a leather goods manufacturer to a globally active high-tech enterprise.
A success story that is by no means finished.
From our roots in the tool bags & cases segment up to the most advanced plastics applications and electric mobility. Every aspect of our work has always been focused on quality, precision and 100% customer satisfaction. In 2020, we cast a glance back into the past and invite you to take a trip through the decades with PARAT.
The Solingen corporation in Remscheid needed cases to store their tools. Heinz Schönenbach borrowed a sewing machine, which, however, he could only use at night. At home, he started sewing the first leather bags. And the idea of creating PARAT came up …
On October 8, 1945, the family enterprise “Lederwarenfabrik Schönenbach” was founded together with Martin Schönenbach. This marked the first milestone in the history of PARAT.
Due to a shortage of manpower in the Remscheid region, a trip throughout Germany had been arranged to search for a new establishment – and Neureichenau was finally discovered. The local train station was a decisive factor for choosing this place because this guaranteed a smooth transport of goods. The then parish priest Braun saw the potential in the company and therefore made the local youth center available to the company as first production facility. Only one year later, this was the place where production of the first leather bags, duffle bags and one-man tents was started with the help of local seamstresses.
At today’s headquarters in Neureichenau, Lower Bavaria, the first production hall with an area of 1,590 m² was established and inaugurated on June 9, 1961. The production of high-quality leather tool bags and cases began.
The new tool bag with drawers was presented at the hardware show in Cologne. When Gertrud Schönenbach, the founder’s wife, saw the bag for the first time and opened it, she said: “Wow, a place for everything and everything ready to hand,” – and this is how the name PARAT was born, meaning ‘ready to hand’ in German language. The brand name PARAT was registered and the first logo visualized. And still today, the company’s logo is a combination of the word “PARAT” and the letter “S”, standing for the founder’s family name Schönenbach.
The thermoforming technology is on the advance. This laid the foundation stone for the company’s core competence of today and the first thermoforming machine was installed. Two years later, the production of the first hard case was launched.
PARAT was awarded the contract for the development of the entire door/roof system for the “Iltis” by VW. In close cooperation with Edscha, the extremely tight deadline could be met and 150 vehicles had been equipped within just three months. This was the basis for gaining further orders by Volkswagen and at the same time pathbreaking for the development on the convertible softtop market.
What had been a running product line of bags & cases, was completely re-designed – and gave rise to a bestseller: the CLASSIC tool case. With a new frame and an integrated barrel-lock, now also the case interior had been adapted to the needs of the most different trades. The case from the PARAT bags & cases product range is a top seller even today, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The company received the order to develop a convertible top for BMW. PARAT visited BMW at its premises and was granted a time limit of just five days to come up with a solution. PARAT delivered in as little as three days’ time and won the contract. With this extraordinary performance, PARAT was able to make a name for itself in the automotive industry. Upon completion of the development phase, the convertible top for BMW went into series production a year later.
Another milestone had been reached. PARAT conquered the caravan market. With large-sized, thermoformed plastic components, the Group has convinced customers from the caravan and recreational industry until now. The first order was to deliver a rear light molding for a motorhome. This sector is still one of PARAT’s core areas.
Due to the increase in orders for large-size plastic components for the caravan sector such as bumpers or rear section components, the site in Neureichenau had been expanded by a production area of 6,300 m². The yellow-green building was built, which until today is still standing there in the colors of the former corporate design.
The development of the Cargo and Top-Line series offered a large selection of different models to craftspeople from the most different trades.
The know-how from the bags & cases product range had been successfully transferred to a new market segment. In 1933, PARAT again extended its product portfolio and included storage solutions for notebooks and printers. The concept of a “mobile office” emerged.
The flexible process for the production of components from polyurethane material allows to realize either small batches and large volumes and is therefore particularly suitable both for prototype construction and series production.
A Romanian business location was established in Sighisoara and, on an area of 4,000 m², the company started producing air bags, protective covers and accessories for the automotive industry as well as tool bags and cases, tents and blankets.
The headquarters of PARAT Group had been further expanded. With 9,000 m², a new production hall in Neureichenau offered enough space for new machines to meet the strong growth in demand.
With Szügy (Hungary), PARAT added another location. In the beginning, high-class convertible tops for renowned customers from the automotive industry had been produced there.
The innovative and highly flexible RIM moulding technique (Reaction Injection Moulding) had been included into the company’s range of technologies.
PARAT as an innovation leader – the product portfolio for bags & cases had been expanded to include safety lamps. As an institution for safe light, PARAT ensures a perfect combination of maximum light output and approved explosion protection.
The complex Long Fibre Injection Technique (LFI) found its way into the company’s technology portfolio. Different process parameters give large-sized structural components their specific properties and can be easily adapted to the customer’s individual requirements. LFI stands for efficient, reproducible and highly stable production processes. PARAT Neureichenau has the largest LFI plant in the world. Established customers from the agricultural engineering industry continue to benefit from this wealth of know-how.
To deal with the increasing number of orders, the production site in Romania had been replaced by a new production hall and warehouse with administrative offices not far from the previous building.
The many years of experience and expertise had been transferred into the construction machinery sector. Since then, leading companies have been putting their trust into PARAT’s high level of vertical integration.
In 2012, our Hungarian site started to back-foam PVC films with polyurethane using RIM technology. This was a completely new technology for the PARAT Group. To date, interior trim parts both with functional and pleasant feel for high-quality tractors are produced with this technique.
Addition to the IT segment: PARAT set new standards in the education sector with the first series cases for up to 16 iPad devices or tablets. Robust case shells and high-class locking mechanisms keep precious IT equipment safe and protect it from unauthorized access. This way, tablets can be securely charged, transported and managed.
PARAT opened a new high-tech production site in Hungary. Since 2001, various components and products have been produced in Hungary, outside the Neureichenau headquarters. Steady growth and high standards with respect to the logistical infrastructure had resulted in the construction of the site in Szügy. Top-quality and complex plastic parts for interior and exterior applications are still being produced today on 12,300 m².
First foothold in China: With a production site in China, PARAT was getting more and more global and opened up new areas and markets. On the other side of the world, highly advanced plastic components are manufactured simultaneously with Europe both for international and Asian-based customers. PARAT established a REP office and a production site near Shanghai. More than 40 staff members are currently working there.
The production site in Romania was expanded. Meanwhile, PARAT occupies a production area of roughly 5,600 m² and employs about 200 staff members. Globally operating partners and brands rely on PARAT’s manufacturing expertise as well as the company’s many years of experience and specialist knowledge at the Albesti site.
With the newly added assembly and logistics hall in Neureichenau, PARAT is clearly heading for the future. The new plant offers significantly more space for an optimal material flow and best conditions for production and assembly. The entire production area at the Neureichenau headquarters has increased to roughly 30,000 m²! In order to always keep up with the latest cutting-edge technology, PARAT has also invested into building up a technical center for fiber composites in Neureichenau.
Using the most advanced technology and optimized manufacturing processes, PARAT develops forward-looking projects for new mobility concepts in cooperation with innovative manufacturers. Thanks to almost unlimited scope of design in respect of shape, color and haptics, projects for e-mobility and other energy applications can be implemented easily and flexibly.
With its Nantong site, PARAT found a new home in China. Equipped with the most modern manufacturing techniques, plants and technologies, high quality plastic components and systems are produced there.
75 years of PARAT. Over the past seven decades, PARAT has become a globally active partner for highly functional plastic trim parts and structural components with a broad array of technologies and has been offering innovative storage systems since the very beginning. Leading-edge technology and the highest possible quality have always been the most important yardstick for everything we do.
PARAT does not stay in the same spot and continues developing innovative and breakthrough products in the future. Being a globally networking Group, we are able to provide high-tech solutions for our customers in all market segments. Whether IT storage and tool cases, safety lamps or cutting-edge technology for electric mobility – PARAT is and always will be your partner for high-end solutions.