Baruth / Mark. 20 years ago, in autumn 2001, the CLASSEN Group opened its factory in Baruth (Brandenburg). At that time, it started with 120 employees. Today it is the largest continuous laminate plant in the world. Around 850 employees produce up to 80 million square metres of high-quality laminate flooring a year in Baruth for the global market. This means that laminate the size of a 20-square-metre living room leaves production every seven seconds. By 2020, the first billion square metres of laminate have been produced, which is an amount you could line the entire island of Rügen with.
CLASSEN decided on the new location in Baruth in 2000, because the laminate plant in Kaisersesch (Rhineland-Palatinate) was already bursting at the seams. Since 1995, CLASSEN had doubled its production capacity every two years. A new location was needed and Baruth was carefully chosen. Because there was already a sawmill and a manufacturer of HDF boards on the other side of the road, synergy effects could be used right from the start. In addition, there is good quality local wood in Brandenburg.
Many long-time employees remember the beginnings of this project. Like Norbert Nahler, who, as head of CLASSEN's technical office, helped plan the new plant. When he saw the new 50-hectare site for the first time, the goals were already ambitious: "'We plan to run the first production here next year,' my managing director told me. And there I was, looking at a huge area of forest! When we got the ground plan of the site, we set about the initial planning. We got plans of the existing machines in Kaisersesch, drew the machines in a certain scale on paper, cut them out and then lined them up. And that's when we came up with a plant length of 350 metres!"
An important success factor for the location was the fact that the right employees were quickly found, as Ronald Ante, who was responsible for production in Kaisersesch at the time and is now head of the CLASSEN Group's application technology department, recalls: "In Baruth we got excellently qualified personnel, trained in the GDR. In contrast to the West, these were not only men in technical professions at that time, but also women, who had a very good basis for quickly learning how to use the new machines."
In fact, CLASSEN was able to start up the first production lines for laminate as planned in 2001. As early as 2003, the entire new plant was mirrored and capacities doubled. A short time later, CLASSEN built its own board plant in Baruth and in August 2007, CLASSEN pressed its first HDF board there as a substrate for its laminate flooring. Today, the factory site has a total of around 250,000 square metres of hall space, the equivalent of 35 football pitches in the Bundesliga.
Employees from West Germany have also found their way to Brandenburg, like Heinz-Josef Goeke, head of mechanical maintenance in the CLASSEN Group's wood-fibre board production in Baruth: "My first impression of the factory was: Wow! I had never seen anything so clean before. I was thrilled! And I have already seen many wood-processing plants, including those of CLASSEN's direct competitors. Today I can say: Here in Baruth, investments are not only made in cleanliness, but also in maintenance to keep the factory at a high level. It is also still overwhelming for me what is being done here at the plant for environmentally friendly production."
For example, as in all its plants, the CLASSEN Group is continuously improving its energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Baruth. For example, waste from production such as wood chips and wood dust is used to generate energy and heat in the company's own biomass power plant and fed back into production. This saves up to 7,000 tonnes of CO₂ annually. In total, CLASSEN operates three biomass and natural gas energy plants with a total capacity of around 130 megawatts to generate energy and heat on the site.
For the managing director of CLASSEN Industries, Carsten Buhlmann, who came to Baruth in 2000 as plant manager and has accompanied and shaped the development of the site from the beginning, the success has a lot to do with the employees: "From the beginning, we have also trained and thus practically brought in our own specialists. The majority of the workforce here comes from the region. This is another reason why the employees are so closely connected to our plant. Everyone is a part of a gearbox that is interlocked."
The CLASSEN Group was founded in 1949 and is one of the world's leading manufacturers of floor coverings in the laminate and polymer flooring sectors. As the owner of numerous patents and utility models, the CLASSEN Group is one of the innovation leaders in the industry. The family-run company is responsible for almost 2,000 employees. Part of its philosophy is to develop products that do not harm people or the environment. For example, the CLASSEN Group was the first manufacturer worldwide to produce vinyl flooring free of PVC and plasticisers. The basis for this is the self-developed material CERAMIN. All products of the CLASSEN Group have been awarded the renowned environmental seal "Der Blaue Engel". The sites in Germany have a production capacity of almost 100 million square metres and thus supply the international trade with high-quality flooring.
Employees share their memories of the Baruth site here on the CLASSEN blog: https://blog.classengroup.com/category/20-jahre-baruth/
You can also find this message here in German: https://classengroup.com/de/classen-jubilaeum-fuer-das-groesste-laminatwerk-der-welt/
You can download suitable image material here and use it freely: https://classengroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/211025_photos_classen_baruth_20_years.zip