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Elbeholz won an award on innovation

Saxon newspaper 1999

Being friendly to customers and having a wide range of products is important

The wood and timber trading company Elbeholz in Riesa is very well-known for its wide range of products and friendly service to many people in Oschatz. Each year, the German wood trade association gives away an award which is linked to strict terms. A few days ago, the team of branch manager Heiko Birnbaum received the Innovation Award For Wood Traders 1999 at the branch conference in Wiesbaden.
This presentation of prizes was preceded by voluminous assessments made by an independent jury, concerning customer advisory service, range of products, the sales concept and the presentation of the products. The main factors for this East German company's winning was having the best detailed solution, a carpenter's shop and producing carports according to the customers' requests.

Donation to nursing home

Therapeutical and curative-educational devices are going to be bought with the donation money that Hannelore Gelbhaar and Heiko Birnbaum from Elbeholz-Riesa gave to the nursing home Heidehäuser. Home director Birgit Lühne received the check in presence of both the home inhabitants and co-workers.
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The impregnation plant gets an Oscar

chamber of industry and commerce news 11/2000

This year an Oscar for small and medium-sized businesses was awarded to the Imprägnierwerk Wülknitz GmbH. You can really tell that shareholder and general manager Tilo Vogel is very proud of this acknowledgement, while leading a tour through the plant. In March 1992 he had taken over the company founded in 1875 from the trust company and turned it into a limited one-person company. That made him one of the first 30 entrepreneurs in Saxony who had, via management buy out, saved former state-owned factories from liquidation. From 1956-1990, this plant mass-produced creosoted sleepers and salt impregnated structural and mining timber, paying no heed of pollution control. The initial situation corresponded to that.
Using ideas and a lot of money to modernize a hopelessly outdated company with highly contaminated soil and ground water.

After two years of economic decline, a privatization obstructed by cancelled contracts, bankrupt customers and short-time work finally became successful and the concept behind the enterprise These sins of the past were the snag, so the company was on the brink of ruin. Rehabilitation and investments don't go together well, especially if you want to compete on the market with products like railway sleepers, impregnated wooden poles for the energy and telecom sector, structural timber as well as timber for horticultural and landscape engineering demands. Financing the revitalization of the strained industrial site without any help from the West was extremely difficult, though the rehabilitation of the environment was taken over. The first investment programme containing DEM 1.7 millions evolved into DEM 11 millions.

The site of the impregnation plant is also the destination of this steam engine, which is tended enthusiastically to its old brilliance by a society.
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Patent issued - Wülknitz going eco again

Saxon newspaper 17/4/2002

Impregnation plant develops the first environment-friendly tar oil of the world

Ten years after the privatization, the impregnation plant in Wülknitz surprises the world with a sensation. From now on, environment-friendly tar oil will preserve wood from rot and insects. The swiss chemicals group Lonza wants to develop the new impregnation substance Creosote after an idea out of Wülknitz.
Tar and ecology. Normally these two terms don't go together. Highly alarmed, environmentalists point out that still structural timber and wooden poles are impregnated with hard coal tar oil. This liquid doesn't stay forever in the wood. On the contrary it evaporates under the sunlight and, while doing so, produces carcinogenic gas. Above that there's the risk that the tar will seep into the ground water.

An alternative to conventional agents is therefore badly needed.

That's why the responsible people at Wülknitz thought about limiting these risks, perhaps even banning them. Manager Tilo Vogel and his son-in-law Oliver Arlt had the idea to develop an environment-friendly tar oil. The basic concept was: the oil should be more intensely compounded with the wood and preserve its natural colour. And indeed, the first sleepers built into the company site have such an light colour as if they had never seen any impregnation boiler. Compared to them the conventional sleepers next to them are black, an oil film is shimmering on the surface. "We're convinced that now we have a real alternative to conventional tar oil", says Tilo Vogel. But the Wülknitzers never could have realized their idea on their own. Therefore they searched for suitable partners and found them.The chemicals group Lonza in Basles which plans to put the environment-friendly impregnation substance on the market. At the international impregnation conference in Istanbul, Turkey, the first presentation of Creosote EC 265 amazed the experts and the competitors. Big U.S. and Canadian timber processing companies had been already interested, says Vogel. The Europeans stay reserved. This could change soon, if the EU bans tar oil. "The bureaucratic machines in Brussels are running already" the Wülknitzer knows. "I hope that if these gentlemen enact a law against tar, our new impregnation substance is going to be accepted on the market." Becoming the German market leader doesn't occur to him. Stay reasonable is his motto. Anyway, field tests with Creosote are far from being completed. It's true that several poles are already forming a test network near Neubrandenburg and Darmstadt, but it will take three years to see how long the magic potion will last.

But one thing is for certain, the Wülknitzers have again made new friends concerning ecology. Several years ago already, they completely replaced the polluted soil of their site. It cost them seven millions euro and was the most expensive rehabilitation in the Free State of Saxonia so far.
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globally patented wood preservation

chamber of industry and commerce news 6/2002

Prefabricated railway sleepers, wooden poles for energy supply and telecommunications, structural timber plus wood for horticulture.

In Wülknitz, railway sleepers, wooden poles and structural timber are impregnated just as timber for horticultural demands.
"We managed reduce the amount creosote used at the impregnation considerably", tells us partner and manager Tilo Vogel with justified pride. He knows what he's talking about. Thoughts revolved around this matter since the takeover of the company in 1992. Between 1956 - 1990, this site mass-produced creosoted sleepers and salt impregnated structural timber.

Since the revitalization of this strained industrial site in 1997/98, the company started to develop the tar oil derivate Creosote EC 265 in order to eliminate the negative aspects of creosote (impregnation oil, hard coal tar oil) without refraining from positive qualities of this wood preserver. "We can't quite do without the positive qualities like our long-term experience (since about 1840) and the high efficacy. But we managed to reduce the amount of tar oil down to ten percent, without giving up the best preservation possible", Tilo Vogel says.

Customers as well as prospective buyers can tell the difference at the sample tracks at once. A planned sample network for the German telecom should give further insights concerning the poles production.
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