Zapp groupZapp group


Our fourth century

The advances of the steel industry in the last 300 years have had a greater influence on our life, economy and culture than ever before. The Zapp family has been rooted in these developments since 1701. It has always been particularly interested in innovations. “On the basis of tradition, to pursue the new”, wrote Engelberth Zapp Senior in 1730. This enthusiasm for new developments has become an essential part of our corporate philosophy.

“There is always room for improvement”

Melting iron ore with charcoal and using water power to drive the hammer: That is why Hermann Zapp came to Ründeroth, a small town in the valley of the Leppe. This is where, over five generations, from 1701 until 1869, the family produced its steel. First in a forge as a craft trade firm. Even Krupp bought its refined steel from Zapp. The production was later industrialized with a puddling furnace, state of the art at the time. Krupp came back to Zapp, this time to study puddling. In 1857, the first major economic crisis in Germany and a financial imbalance led to the sale of the firm.

But the family remained true to steel.

1701 Hermann Zapp acquires a forge and founds a business
1887 Robert Zapp obtains the exclusive distribution rights for Krupp tool steel
1926 Acquisition of shares in the company Stahlwerk Ergste

Turning point: Phoenix from the ashes

In 1871, Robert Zapp left Ründeroth and founded a steel trading business in Düsseldorf. He concentrated on special steels right from the start. The best came from the country where the industrial revolution was born: England. Robert Zapp had studied the Bessemer process on the island. He had a good idea what the future would bring. He made use of his knowledge and sold the new steels throughout Europe. Then, in 1887, came Krupp’s decision. Alfred Krupp transferred the sole distribution rights for his tool steels to the European organization of Robert Zapp. The Krupps regarded themselves as developers and producers. But their new steel types needed explanation. The competitive advantages they offered demanded intensive collaboration with the toolmakers. The primary task was the development of new applications. Alfred Krupp and his successors therefore regarded Robert Zapp as the most suitable distribution partner. As time went on, the association rapidly grew. In 1913, the sales organization introduced the new Krupp steel Nirosta and, in 1927, the new hard metal Widia. But equally important was a quite different event at this time. In 1926, Robert Zapp acquired the Ergste Steelworks: a pioneer in the cold forming of rustproof steel in wire form.

1913-1945 Market introduction of the Krupp materials Nirosta and Widia in Europe
1955 Introduction of high-tech, nickel and cobalt based materials
1970 Establishment of a central warehouse and service operation in Ratingen

Industry and trading remain independent

For 70 years, the two companiesconducted their own businesses largely independently of each other. In the post-war period, the trading company Robert Zapp concentrated on the new types of high-performance materials and expanded its extensive network of branches: closeness to the customer as a factor for success. It introduced the new high-tech, nickel and cobalt based materials. New titanium materials led to cooperation with the aerospace industry. After a comprehensive reorganization, the company now operated under the name Robert Zapp Materials Technology and obtained the distribution rights for the high-performance powder-metallurgical CPM®materials, later also gaining the materials of the ASP®2000 series. At the same time, Stahlwerk Ergste was shifting its production more and more to high alloyed and new special steels, steadily consolidating its position among the drawing shops and cold rolling mills. Then, in the sixties, came the crucial strategic reorientation: a break from the old steel types and full concentration on the innovative range of rustproof, acid- and heat-resistant steels. But here too, the competitive advantages had to be worked out for every individual customer. That could only work through close coordination of customer consulting and technology, as the standards required and the specialist know-how had increased considerably by then. Consulting was therefore organized centrally in Ergste. In 1991, Ergste also bought the Stahlwerk Westig in Unna: Firstly, because the product ranges complemented each other and, secondly, because Westig would extend the internationalization of the firm. Then, in 1995, the two companies merged to become Stahlwerk Ergste Westig, a company within the Zapp Group. Robert Zapp Werkstofftechnik GmbH and Stahlwerk Ergste Westig GmbH stayed strategical and operational independent.

1982 Robert Zapp Materials Technology obtains the distribution rights for the high-performance powder metallurgical CPM ® material series.®
1991 Acquisition of Westig GmbH
1996 First production unit in the USA (Summerville)

Why should anything change?

“To pursue the new”, as Engelberth Zapp Senior had written. What was new was that the world had changed. The wall between east and west had fallen. A new Europe had been formed. At the same time, information technology had accelerated the cross-border division of labor. More and more customers, particularly large customers, were expanding, merging or relocating parts of their business in other European countries, or elsewhere. For the companies of the Zapp Group that meant that only sustained internationalization could secure its continued growth through its own efforts. In the eventful years that followed, production works were set up in Summerville and Dartmouth, USA,  the second most important market after Europe. The companies of the Group were also merged into a family-controlled joint stock company. The decisive factor for the operative business was the orientation of the organization to a new, fast-moving world.
However, Robert Zapp Werkstofftechnik GmbH and Stahlwerk Ergste Westig GmbH stayed strategical and operational independent.

1998 The companies of the Zapp Group are merged to form Zapp AG
2000 Second production unit in the USA (Dartmouth)
2005 Foundation of Zapp Medical Alloys GmbH, new Service Center for nickel based high performance alloy
2006 Acquisition of Profile Wire LLC Houston/Texas
2007 Foundation of Service Center East Coast USA
2008 Completion of Service Center China, acquisition of Ferd. Wagner, Pforzheim, acquisition of Euro-Titan, Solingen
2009 Foundation of Zapp Tooling Alloys Inc. in Summerville, USA
2010 Service Centers Zapp Tooling Alloys Inc. in Gurnee/Chicago, USA
2013 The Zapp Group standardizes its corporate names in Germany: The new company names are Zapp Precision Metals GmbH and Zapp Materials Engineering GmbH

Standardized and international market presence

As a further step to a standardized and international market presence Zapp Medical Alloys GmbH and Ferd. Wagner GmbH merged with Stahlwerk Ergste Westig GmbH in 2013 and operate since then under its new name: Zapp Precision Metals GmbH. This expresses the core business as a niche supplier of precision products in a better way and simplifies the international market presence. Simultaneous Robert Zapp Werkstofftechnik GmbH as Zapp Materials Engineering GmbH and Robert Zapp Service-GmbH as Zapp Systems GmbH has been also rebranded.