Five generations and several main lines of business: over a history spanning more than 120 years, the Schreinerei Reichel carpentry business has become firmly established in its industry. Let's start at the beginning: At the end of the 19th century, the company started as a traditional joinery and cabinet making business in Westenfelderstrasse 124 in a residential area of Wattenscheid, Germany. After a while, the company also started to build caskets for funerals in the area — a line of business that the company still practices today.
Over time, the Reichels became increasingly renowned for their precise and reliable work, but only within the town limits — their work never even took them over the river Ruhr. Only in the mid-1960s did things begin to develop quicker. Josef “Jupp” Reichel, grandson of the founder, gradually extended the home workshop. But then came the 1980s: It seems the entire Ruhr area had already been supplied with cabinets and furniture and the number of orders dropped. Time for the next generation to take over — daughter Petra Reichel-Oliveri, businesswoman and holder of a small carpentry master craftsman’s diploma, and her husband Mano Oliveri, trained automotive mechanic and man of many talents, began to take on more responsibility in the business.
The risk paid off.
From this point on, Schreinerei Reichel began furnishing a whole host of restaurants in the surrounding area and its network in the region underwent constant growth. One consequence of this was that the company received the contract to renovate the citizens’ center in Bochum in 1988. The city liked the company’s precise work and their practical way of thinking — contracts for the town hall and public service buildings followed. In the meantime, the house in Westenfelderstrasse was extended and remodeled for the third time. But the final test was still to come for the Reichels in the form of the Dreischeibenhaus office building in Düsseldorf — the largest construction site in Germany at the time. In 1996, this tower block required its fire protection provisions to be updated after a catastrophic fire at Düsseldorf airport. Numerous stories, a plethora of construction companies, daily traffic jams, elevators that didn’t work and troublesome machines: the project was worth millions and almost literally knocked out the 20 Reichel employees in Wattenscheid. But giving up was not an option — every day, the entire team pushed itself to the limit to accomplish the order, which is obviously too big for them to handle. Somehow, they managed it. By doing so, the Reichels did not just complete a mammoth project; they also gained assurance that they can achieve big things.
“We want to meet everybody’s needs here; A grandmother with one euro in her pocket is just as important to us as a millionaire.”Mano Oliveri, Managing Director
“The locker made us big. But we still know where we came from.”Petra Reichel-Oliveri, Managing Director
Locker by locker
Bolstered by this confidence boost, the family-run business hit the ground running in the new millennium — almost literally. The team in Wattenscheid produce the lockers for 30 studios of a fitness chain. In 2005, McFIT acquired the fitness company, as well as its collaboration with Schreinerei Reichel. It put the business through its paces first when Mano Oliveri brought home a very special order: a theftproof locker for a studio that was a constant target for criminals. The carpenters put their heads together and supplied McFIT with the solution it required. Today, Schreinerei Reichel fits out more than 350 McFIT branches worldwide with locker systems, counters and wall paneling, and has extended this business to include various smaller studios. It delivers 800 to 1000 lockers alone every week, an example of how this family-run business has built up a unique wealth of experience in optimal solutions for storing valuables, bags and clothing. From electronic locks and reinforced rear walls through custom-made hinges and rubber handles — with the modular locker system developed by Schreinerei Reichel, fitness studios and other businesses can meet all of their customer’s requirements. Of course, Petra Reichel-Oliveri and her husband don’t do all of this alone — they can only achieve it together with their employees and reliable partners in all areas of their business. One of those partners is HOMAG thanks to the third managing director.
It had to be HOMAG
Alexander Oliveri is the fifth generation of managing director at the family-run business. While his parents take care of the commercial aspects and sales, together with the foremen, the trained carpenter takes care of the work preparation and technology. When the space finally ran out in the original building some years ago, the decision was taken to move to the nearby industrial area — partially at least, as it was important to the family to connect the carpentry and industrial sectors of their business. The building in Westenfelderstrasse is still used to process one-off requests, while big orders are handled at the new building.
The hall, which was completed in 2018, is equipped with an edge banding machine, a panel dividing saw and two processing centers from HOMAG. Design is very important to Petra Reichel-Oliveri, so the interior of the building uses the colors of the machines. In a matter of fact and clear way, Alexander Oliveri explains why HOMAG was the only company to be considered as a partner: “We have never had any problems with our machines from HOMAG. They’re always precise and always manufactured perfectly. And if we’ve ever need any services, all we had to do was make a phone call and the technician was straight there. We also wanted to have just one machine supplier in the hall to make the operation uniform and to allow us to work together with the supplier to plan the workshop.” And that is exactly what happened. All machines are now double-staffed, so there’s no risk of a standstill. There was a settling-in period to begin with for some of the processes, as the new machines were sometimes so fast that even the most experienced carpenters couldn’t keep up.
Focus on carpentry
It’s precisely this experience that is highly regarded at Schreinerei Reichel. Experience leads to innovation and new knowledge — that’s why retired senior journeymen regularly work in the workshop to pass a few tricks on to younger colleagues. When colleagues are tinkering around with solid wood together, everyone’s eyes light up. Because, at the end of the day, everyone at Schreinerei Reichel is there for the same reason: to work together with wood. The family wants to actively pass on this passion to their six current apprentices and all others. By doing so, Schreinerei Reichel is trying to remedy the lack of skilled workers while also upholding the craft of their trade. For this reason, orders that cannot be taken due to insufficient time are passed on to other businesses in the region that the company is friendly with. In Wattenscheid, they know exactly where they started and they’re grateful for where they are today.
„Fü”For me, HOMAG was the only choice for the new hall. We repeatedly had problems with machines from all the other manufacturers. Only HOMAG has never let us down in terms of reliability and service.”Petra Reichel-Oliveri, Managing Director
Products: Fitness fittings, components, funeral caskets, interior fittings
Location: Bochum-Wattenscheid, Germany
First HOMAG machine: 1992
HOMAG machines used:
■ EDGETEQ S-500 edge banding machine
■ XES 200 pre-heating station
■ CENTATEQ P-200 CNC processing center
■ SAWTEQ B-300 profiLine panel dividing saw
■ DRILLTEQ V-500 CNC processing center
■ HBX 150 vacuum feed