tesa’s success story begins with the unsuccessful development of an adhesive bandage. Paul C. Beiersdorf, a pharmacist, was at work on the bandage when Dr. Oscar Troplowitz took over the lab from the company’s founder in 1890. The bandage adhered excellently, but was irritating to skin. Troplowitz made a virtue of necessity and, in 1896, launched the first technical adhesive tape.
Today tesa is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of self-adhesive product and system solutions for industry, professional craftsmen, and consumers. Follow us into the exciting history of tesa and tape technology.
The Name “tesa” Is Born
The name tesa® traces back to the secretary Elsa Tesmer, who worked at Beiersdorf in Hamburg from April 1903 through the end of October 1908, first as an office clerk and then as the office manager. She thought up the term from the first two letters of her last name and the last two letters of her first name.
tesa as a Brand Name of a Tube for Toothpaste
In the beginning, the brand name tesa® adorns several products. For example the patented tube used for Pebeco toothpaste. Unfortunately the tube business fares poorly.
Birth of tesa Adhesive Tape – Hamburg
Transparent rubber tape enters the market on February 17, 1936 as the latest product to be given the catchy name tesa. 25-year-old Hugo Kirchberg applies to Beiersdorf for a job and decides to make his new employer’s then-insignificant rubber adhesive film a resounding success. The “K Klebefilm” (K adhesive tape) is manufactured in two lengths and six widths right from the start in the versions “colorless-crystal-clear”, “yellow transparent”, “yellow covered,” and “black covered”. Other colors follow later.
At a time in which industrial production of food and its shelf life plays an increasingly important role, the K adhesive tape is praised for sealing jam jars, tin cans for bread and cookies as well as cardboard packaging for dried fruit. When this predecessor of the subsequent tesafilm® comes to the market in 1936, Kirchberg shows his keen sense for the requirements of potential customers. In the same year, he develops a dispenser that can be found in a modified form on almost every desk to this day. The principle behind the “receptacle for dry-glue-coated adhesive strip rolls”, registered under patent number 661115, is held by tesa up to the 21st century. A product is only really good if it can be used easily and it has recognizable benefits.
tesa Becomes an Umbrella Brand
Only five years later, besides the tesa adhesive tape, Kirchberg advertises another product. With the launch of the painters’ tape tesakrepp®, tesa evolves into an umbrella brand for all the group’s self-adhesive products. The tesafilm® name is created as an abbreviation of “tesa-Klebefilm” (tesa adhesive tape). Today both, the tesa masking tape tesakrepp® and tesafilm® are classics of the product range.
The temperatures almost reach zero. An icy wind blows through the streets. How nice it is when it is cozy at home. But that is rarely the case at the beginning of the fifties. Buildings are damaged from the war, and high-quality building materials is in short supply. This gives the engineers at tesa an ingenious idea. There would have to be a product that protects windows and doors against drafts without requiring a great deal of skilled craftsmanship – and is also inexpensive. The product developers invent a self-adhesive profile seal made of plastic foam in 1954. One year later, the strips appears on the market under the name tesamoll®. Here, “moll” indicates an elastic material (mollis: lat. soft) and creates an association with the German word “mollig” which means “cozy warm.” The product is still very popular internationally to this day. In warm countries, tesamoll® protects living space against heat, sand, and insects.
Ahead of the Times: Displays for Specialty Retailers
tesa develops special displays to clearly and professionally present its products to do-it-yourselfers at specialty retail stores.
“Kati” Conquers the World of tesa
tesa positions itself in the construction and do-it-yourself markets with a number of unusual TV spots in Germany, which cause a stir not only in the advertising scene. The cheeky and happy Kati flickers on the tube reliably for three years on Saturdays at the best broadcast time just before the main news. The little girl explains to her daddy how adhesive tapes from tesa make life in the home and garden easier. It is a change of roles that would have been unthinkable in the 1950s – even in the tesa advertising. Do-it-yourself concerns were a man’s world, and hobbies and handicrafts were for the women. However, after the movement in 1968 with the beginning of women’s emancipation, tesa strikes social gold with the Kati advertising. “Kati and daddy” are also used in different media. Since television still plays a subordinate role, the popular duo also advertise in print advertisements.
Mr. tesa Retires
After 39 years of service to the company, Hugo Kirchberg, head of the tesa department, retires. The tesa portfolio now consists of about 600 different products.
tesa as a Division
Beiersdorf introduces its four divisions Cosmed, Pharma, Medical, and tesa as a prelude to the further expansion of its adhesive tape business.
Automated Warehouse Technology
In Offenburg, tesa celebrates the initial operation of a high-rack warehouse – offering state-of-the-art automated warehouse technology with a separate picking area and nearly 8000 pallet spaces to start out (later 10,300). tesa now offers a total of 2500 product solutions.
1200 Meters of Adhesive Tape Strips
The tesa plant in the Hausbruch district of Hamburg puts a complex coating unit with suspended drying for 1200 meters of adhesive tape strips into operation. Recovery and recycling of the solvents used in the unit enable highly efficient cleaning of exhaust air.
First Non-European tesa Plant – Sparta, Michigan
The first major tesa plant outside Europe opens its doors in Sparta, Michigan, United States. Today, some 60 employees produce adhesive tapes for the general industrial market, particularly for the regional automotive industry.
In the year of its 25th anniversary, the tesa plant in Offenburg begins running a new large-scale unit. The total usable space at the site is expanded from 4000 to 65,000 square meter.
tesa® Insect Stop – a Top Seller
Consumers can keep annoying insects from paying a visit: tesa® Insect Stop makes its debut and goes on to become a top seller.
New tesa Logo Is Introduced
The tesa brand name has been a key component of the logo since the very beginning. The uniform design that has been used around the world since 1990 symbolizes the very essence of the tesa brand: the sticking together of two parts.
Nails and screws suddenly have to compete with the newly patented tesa Powerstrips®.
ISO 9001 Quality Standard
The tesa division meets all of the requirements for the ISO 9001 quality standard, setting a new benchmark in the adhesive tape business.
tesafilm® as a Data Storage Medium
Two scientists from Mannheim, Germany, discover that you can store data on tesafilm®. Today the technology protects name-brand items from counterfeiting and secures original products against theft on their way along the supply chain. The scientists and tesa jointly establish tesa Scribos GmbH.
tesa Revolutionizes the Printing and Paper Industry
tesa becomes a global market leader in this segment with the launch of EasySplice®. This technology enables secure, ultra-fast splicing when changing rolls.
From Company Division to Independence
The Beiersdorf Group’s original tesa division becomes tesa AG.
New Solvent-Free Production Technology
The Offenburg plant begins working with a new solvent-free production technology developed at tesa. All painter’s masking tapes are the first items to be switched over to the environmentally friendly new method, later followed by other products.
New Plant Built in China in Record Time – Suzhou, Jiangsu
On December 8, tesa opens a plant with a research department in Suzhou, China, so it can be closer to its global customers.
Environmental Award for tesa
The Association of the German Chemical Industry (VCI) gives tesa its Responsible Care Award. tesa is also granted an environmental award by the German Environmental Management Association (B.A.U.M.).
tesa Joins the Global Compact of the United Nations
The Global Compact is a worldwide pact between companies and the UN to make globalization more socially and environmentally sound.
tesa Gains a Subsidiary
Labtec Gesellschaft für technologische Forschung und Entwicklung mbH becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of tesa. The company develops special administration forms for pharmaceutical active substances as an alternative to pills and specializes in transdermal therapeutic systems (TTS) among others.
From AG to SE: tesa Becomes a European Corporation
As a Societas Europaea (SE), tesa adopts on March 30 the modern cross-border legal structure for corporations in the European Union.
Unique Production Plant – Hamburg
An ultra-modern cleanroom and the world’s only ACX production plant for new double-sided adhesive tapes open their doors in Hamburg.
tesa Celebrates a Double Anniversary
75 years of tesafilm® and ten years of independence as a Beiersdorf company
Launch of tesa® ACXplus
tesa® ACXplus is a new category of tapes for constructive bonding. The strongest and best performing product range so far has a powerful bond on materials with different surface characteristics, offers optimal stress dissipation due to its viscoelastic behavior, and is resistant to temperatures and demanding weather conditions.
Ground Broken for the New tesa SE Building
The new headquarters of tesa SE is build close to the Hamburg Airport. The marketing, administration, the research and development department as well as the technology center are brought together for the first time. The complex is precisely tailored to tesa’s business model and will enable tesa to further concentrate its strengths and bolster the tesa Group’s international competitiveness.
tesa Campus Dedicated
On January 28, Torsten Albig (Premier of Schleswig-Holstein), Hans-Joachim Grote (Mayor of Norderstedt), and Thomas Schlegel (tesa CEO) inaugurate the tesa Campus in front of about 1000 employees and numerous guests of honor. In a symbolic act the trio complete a huge puzzle showing the building and its three components: headquarters, research, and technology center. “Three in one” is the concept of the new tesa headquarters, which is finished after little more than three years of construction. Costing some EUR 160 million, it is the largest investment in the history of tesa.