We present the STILL history, to shed a light on the development lines of our company. These lines of development have guided STILL from its foundation to being the leading group of companies providing intralogistics solutions worldwide.
Our book "STILL - The History" is available as an ePaper to browse through:
Strong and independent – More than 90 years STILL
By now, our customers have been benefitting from the dependability of our products and services for over 90 years. We started by repairing motors, developed mobile generators and became one of the leading full service providers for intralogistics.
We offer a comprehensive concept for intralogistics managing the exchange of information between trucks and all related systems. Our holistic approach aims at an efficient interplay of all components involved in intralogistics including manpower.
Quality and fast service at STILL guarantee high availability. Our products are user-friendly and therefore time saving to operate. By analysing the flow of material and information of our customers, we are able to offer solutions perfectly tailored to any individual demand.
Innovative and intelligent ideas help us to meet the responsibility we have toward the environment. The energy saving program Blue-Q, for example, allows to save between 10 and 20 percent of the energy a truck consumes without affecting its efficiency.
Our competent staff is always pleased to help you. Personal relationships are the basis of a long business relationship.
2000: Renewal - STILL positions itself as a premium brand.
The continuous growth of the past years and the expansion to new markets as such was a business success, but it also generated new demands. Being a globalised company, STILL increasingly had to face the challenges of a globalized market. This is why, STILL decided to remove weaknesses it had recognised and to enforce existing strengths.
At the turn of the millennium, STILL started a multi-million Euro investment program to optimise the production structures at the headquarters in Hamburg and to further improve the service sector which was already running well. Parallel to this, STILL increased its international production and sales capacities by takeover of matching operations. These activities were paralleled by internal quality assurance measures and the forced development of highly innovative products and services. New vehicles were developed, setting new standards in terms of economics, quality and performance. Beside this, STILL established a service concept offering the customer a scope of individual arrangements yet unseen – the PartnerPlan.
In the frame of the internal rejuvenation, the external profile of the company was sharpened as well. STILL was more and more recognisable as a globally positioned premium brand, not only with a large range of vehicles but also with extraordinarily innovative services and solutions for material flow. Due to the change from a mere production operation to being a supplier for complete intralogistic solutions, STILL could conquer a leading position in Europe supplying control of intralogistic processes.
However, in spite of its great ability to adapt, STILL stands by its traditions. Customers, suppliers, staff and associates can therefore rely on the basic values and the intentions as laid out in the company philosophy that still apply in the 9th decade of the company’s history. Today, just as tomorrow, STILL commits itself to the principal: “we want to be a benefit for everyone involved with us.”
1990: The present - awakening in the East
The start of the Nineties was, to a great extent, devoted to the expansion in the east. The disintegration of the previously monolithic Eastern bloc, German unification and the formation of new reform-minded democracies opened up new markets for sales
From the start STILL has aimed for long term, stable and trusting relationships with our Eastern customers and partners. This basic stance was one of the essential conditions for our rise to market leadership in the old East German states.
The foundation stone for the build-up in the East was laid in 1990 with the establishment of a sales office in Leipzig - soon to be followed by subsidiary companies in Hungary (1992), Czech Republic (1993) and Poland (1995). In the meantime links have been forged as far as Russia. The Eastern market has developed into a strong support. The way into the future for STILL has been made smooth.
With a product range geared to the requirements of industry, which stretches from heavy industrial trucks to warehousing equipment, and a total of 12 foreign companies plus a service network spanning the world, STILL today has become a byword for reliability and quality.
Still GmbH and its workers will continue on their adopted path and into the future following the motto of the firm's founder Hans Still:
"The solution to individual transport problems is our job. In the development of new transport techniques our aim is to meet tomorrow's requirements, today."
1980: The first billion - Under the influence of the upturn
Since the beginning of the Seventies an extraordinary growth in sales turnover has been recorded. In 1971 the sales turnover was DM 200 million. By the middle of the eighties this had virtually trebled and in 1989 broke through the DM1 billion barrier.
The success in sales reflected by the turnover figures was accompanied by rationalisation measures, increases in productivity and significant investment in order to provide a firm foundation to safeguard the rapid growth.
One of the actions taken was the creation of a new training workshop and the erection of a new building for the Development and Design department.
1970: Progress - Those who offer innovations, must use innovations.
When the first IBM computer was introduced in 1970 no one could have foreseen how great would be the impact of computer technology on industry and society. But the new technology offered new possibilities and at a company like STILL, which itself offered new ideas, the door was always kept open to new possibilities.
Still makes use of technical advances wherever this seems sensible. Thus in parallel with computers, the first fully automatic machines were installed in production. In the organisation of working time STILL is also trying out new concepts: By introducing flexi-time in 1972 STILL offered its employees more individual freedom to make decisions and more personal accountability.
But STILL did not simply make use of progress but also actively drove it forward. With innovative products, new standards were being set for the industrial truck industry. This began shortly after the decision to build trucks with the single wheel suspension, patented in 1948, and certainly didn't end in 1983 with the world's first hybrid drive industrial truck - the innovative power of STILL continues to the present day.
In the seventies STILL gave a further example of its innovative strengths: the "clear-view mast." Scientific investigations have shown that this new development has considerably improved the safety and ease of operation of forklift trucks.
The design and development engineers at STILL also work intensively on solutions to protect the environment. Since 1974 the exhaust emissions from engine-powered trucks have been reduced so much that the strict requirements of the so-called three stage California test have been met.
STILL's progress was never an end in itself. The benefits for the customer will always be at the forefront. This basic principle has been rewarded and has led to further growth. In 1979 the number of employees had risen to around 2500.
1960: Transformation - Like a Phoenix from the ashes
The fire in the assembly shop (1961) destroyed two months work in a couple of hours. Fortunately no human lives were lost.
Instead of demotivating, the raging flames actually seemed to have fired up the STILL employees. Within a short time, production was able to begin again in rented premises, and only a few years later a new, modern assembly shop was built on the spot of the smouldering ruins left behind by the fire. The fire stood as a symbol of the beginning of a time of renewal and transformation for STILL.
As early as 1960 it had been decided to modernise and extend the works. New buildings were planned for truck manufacture and for the production of switch gear. Additionally a new office building was to be created and a centralised heating and energy supply erected. By 1964 these building projects had been finished and STILL was able to enter the second half of the sixties much stronger and more efficient than the huge blaze at the beginning of the decade would have led one to suppose. The building changes also contributed to providing the company with a modern appearance.
The company logo with which STILL presented itself to the outside world was also updated. Until 1968 the brand name was characterised by an "S" symbolising an electrical flash. This idea came from the founder of the firm and referred to the original production, with its focus on electrical machinery. After 1969 however, this branch of production was completely replaced by the manufacture of vehicles. The first adaptation of the company logo in line with the changed manufacturing range came from the merger with the machine factory Esslingen.
A new logo, “SE Vehicle Works GmbH", came into being and lasted eight years, having no "electrical symbolism". The definitive company logo under which STILL is known today was developed in 1976: STILL GmbH.
1950: World markets - Quality has no frontiers.
As a country Germany worked with enthusiasm to achieve an economic miracle and by the beginning of the Fifties was again able to offer high grade products for export to an astonished world. The term "Made in Germany" gained a good reputation once again. STILL was among the companies whose products were arousing interest abroad. With newly developed trucks they were successful in making the step into export markets. The occupying British forces were the first from whom STILL received an important major order. In 1950 they ordered 60 EWL 1500 electric lorries.
Overseas business was part of the company tradition for STILL. As early as 1924, only four years after the founding of the company, STILL was represented at the Leipzig Export Fair with its light stations and electric motors. In those days the electrical mains were still very thin on the ground which is why remote plantations in tropical countries needed their own generating plants. STILL supplied these to all corners of the world.
The attempt to open itself to world markets has remained an important matter for the company right up to the present day. In 1951 STILL exhibited at the Copenhagen Fair in neighbouring Denmark and, perhaps because of this, was regarded by the public as a company open to the world. In any case in the same year the Hamburg press headlined a large pictorial report with the catch-line, "STILL throughout the world".
The orders from German Railways proved to be beneficial for export business. They first installed STILL electric trolleys and forklift trucks (1949) and by doing so strengthened the decision of other railways to likewise equip themselves with newly developed STILL products. Italian Railways began using STILL in 1954, soon followed by railways of the Benelux countries and, along with others, in 1959 an order was received from Japanese Railways. These major export orders meant two things for STILL: on one hand, recovery and a new upswing after the difficult years of the Forties, and on the other hand, a new, forward-looking direction had been taken with the new "trucks" manufacturing branch. As early as 1954 this division was outstripping the established business of electric machinery.
1940: Turbulent times - STILL products get moving.
The first half of the Forties was marked by the Second World War and no-one in Germany remained unaffected by this period.
The STILL company continued to produce generating equipment and production capacity was continually expanded. At the beginning of 1945 the STILL work force had grown to almost 1500 people and production had virtually tripled. But, following the post-war collapse, reconstruction began with a work force shrunken to barely 500 employees.
Almost half the production area lay in ruins and at first STILL had to keep its head above water by the repair of electric motors and transformers. By July '45 however the development of new products had already begun. A two man "Vehicles" design group was brought into being and by the following year was already able to present the "EK 2000 electric trolley". This electrically driven transport vehicle with a capacity of 2 tonnes introduced a basic change into the focus of STILL's production. From now on the emphasis was increasingly on mobility, on the building of "industrial trucks". (The manufacture of electrical machines was completely given up in 1969.)
With the "EK 2000" new ideas were already being put into practice. The new type of single wheel suspension and the tiller steering gained their respective patents in 1948 and 1952. In 1947 the EK 2000 gained an important customer - German Railways.
With further innovations, the upturn became noticeably more dynamic: A three-wheel tractor, the so-called "Mule-mobile" was developed (1948), and only one year later they were able to celebrate production of the 100th Mule-mobile. In the same year (1949) the next new product followed: STILL's first forklift truck, the EGS 1000.
It was not only its products that STILL made mobile, but also its Service. At the end of the Forties STILL began to use its own service vans. The first, a VW bus, was purchased in 1947. Since then the service fleet in Germany has grown to around 750 vehicles. World-wide there are more than 1000.
1930: People and machinery
It is the people who make a company strong.
The Thirties too, were greatly influenced by the economic upturn. Generator equipment from the STILL company had made a name for itself. The first unit, the Matador Light Station, supplied only 0.5 kW. Since then a model range based on it had been developed offering up to 1.5 kW. By 1933 generators of up to 10 kW had been developed, but this was still not enough. In the following year the first mobile units were being produced. From 1935 these became a permanent feature of the sales range.
STILL developed high quality machines which met the needs of the customers. This, however was not the only reason for continuous growth. Just as important were (and still are) its committed workers, its energy and its wealth of ideas.
Hans STILL, the founder of the firm, was aware of this fact. For him his workers were more than mere factors in production. They were joint-creators of the company's success.
In line with this insight it became a firm STILL tradition to take care of the work force and its interests. As early as 1934 the first company outings were being made and Christmas was celebrated communally. Further innovations followed in the next few years: in 1935 suggestions for improvements coming from the workforce were given awards for the first time. In addition the works medical service was organised and a works doctor provided. Three years later the first company sports groups were formed and today still remain a popular part of company activities.
Through the later years too, it was evident that contented employees were the basis of business success for the STILL company. In 1940 Hans STILL himself founded the registered "Hans STILL Emergency Aid society," which regularly distributed large sums to employees and following this tradition a company pension is paid out today. In 1941 a works library followed and from 1943 the company's own flats. Another point of emphasis in the fostering of employees is the education of trainees. With its own training centres set up, STILL was laying the foundation for the high level of education of the work force.
1920: The founder's years
On 1st February 1920 a young man gained his independence by founding a small business repairing electric motors in Spaldingstrasse, Hamburg. Hans Still was then a young man of only 22, and full of energy. Everything had to happen quickly – especially for his customers.
He offered “speedy assistance,” reliability and quality. Success was not long in coming. The rise was breathtaking. As well as the repair of electric motors, in 1920 he was also developing his own products. The “Matador” lighting station was the first, soon followed by small portable generators (1924).
In addition the product range on offer was rounded off by a commercial range of generating machines. The speed with which the young company grew is clear from the rising number of employees. At the beginning Hans Still only had two employees, an armature winder and a fitter. These three pioneers soon needed reinforcements. Each year extra workers were taken on. As early as 1924 the work force had grown to 20 employees; by 1937 it was over 500 and only two years later, over 1000. Today STILL employs over 6000 people world-wide..
It didn't take long for the business to outgrow its premises. In 1927 the STILL company moved to larger premises at nearby Wendenstrasse, but they were not able to stay there long either. The growth continued and very soon the capacity was once again exhausted. Hans STILL had to look round for a location which offered room for future expansion. In 1932 it was found: the site between the Liebigstrasse and the parallel Berzeliusstrasse in the Hamburg district of Billbrook. The STILL head office is still there even today.
Until his tragic death in 1952 (he died together with his wife in a car accident) Hans Still was at the helm of the business. His lasting legacy is the STILL company, continuing to operate upon his principles which he once described as:
"The standard of work, the economic viability of the products, painstaking manufacturing and total service coverage are the solid basis for STILL quality".
STILL remains true to these principles.