Wilhelm Grillo was one of the founding fathers of industry in the Ruhr region. He was a man with enormous energy, visionary thinking and social involvement, and he started an impressive business development programme in 1842, when he was just 23. A hardware store in Mülheim an der Ruhr was followed by a zinc rolling mill in Duisburg-Neumühl in 1849. Only a few years later – in 1855 – he founded the first production plants for zinc oxide in Oberhausen, alongside two rolling mills and a gas production plant.
From 1881, the crude zinc needed by the plants in Oberhausen was produced in a proprietary smelting plant in Duisburg-Hamborn. Liquid sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid were by-products of this process. A rolling mill was also erected in Hamborn after the turn of the century.
The next generation
Two years after passing on the company to his sons Julius, August and Wilhelm Jr., the company founder died. With effect from 01/01/1894, his sons converted the company, which had previously been a general partnership, into a “Aktiengesellschaft für Zinkindustrie vormals Wilhelm Grillo” (Limited company for zinc industry, previously Wilhelm Grillo).
By the beginning of the Second World War, the company had developed into the largest zinc semi-finished product and zinc oxide manufacturer and SO2-supplier in Germany. After the wartime disruption of almost the entire production, an attempt was made with great difficulty to rebuild the production facilities – excluding the zinc smelting works. Aside from the development and expansion of its own plants, Grillo was involved in a multitude of companies. In 1974, after 120 years, Grillo withdrew completely from Oberhausen.
Since then, the focal points for the traditional Metal and Chemicals Divisions have been in Duisburg-Hamborn and in Frankfurt since 1997, with Goslar being the location for zinc oxide. RHEINZINK, co-founded by Grillo in 1966 and now a full subsidiary, has its rolling mill and administration located in Datteln and markets its zinc construction products through its own branches and/or companies on all continents.
Except for the period between 1988 and 1994, Grillo-Werke AG has always been 100% owned by the Grillo family, i.e. descendants of the company founder Wilhelm Grillo, who are still in charge of the company today.
Founding of ASB Informationstechnik GmbH
Founding of CHEMAD Chemische Analytik Duisburg GmbH
Acquisition of the sulphuric acid processes in the Frankfurt-Höchst Industrial Park
Acquisition of Zinacor S.A.
Renaming of RHEINZINK GmbH into RHEINZINK GmbH & Co. KG
Founding of RHEINZINK Holding GmbH
Acquisition of Hoesch Dürener Dach- und Fassadentechnik GmbH