How it all started
In the post-war years, a tin can containing the liquefied solid lubricant molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) was offered in the US Army shops under the brand name LIQUI MOLY. Added to the motor oil, this substance provided emergency running properties in the event of sudden oil loss. Even the pilots in the Second World War made use of this property. MoS2 belonged to the standard repertoire of every aircraft in the US Air Force at the time. Even in the event that the oil tank was hit and the motor oil was completely lost, the pilots were able to safely make an emergency landing due to the solid lubricant that adhered to the metal surfaces.
Hans Henle acquired the LIQUI MOLY name rights and the associated patent for the oil additive containing molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). That was the birth of LIQUI MOLY. The company LIQUI MOLY GmbH was entered in the commercial register on March 31, 1957. The enterprise grew rapidly, which is why the company headquarters in Donaubastion of Ulm had already become too small after just one year. LIQUI MOLY opened its head office in Ulm’s Olgastrasse – right in the middle of what was then still a small Swabian city – for the sale of its first product: Kfz 1 (auto 1) – based on MoS2, of course. This additive for automobiles is still a firm part of the product range under the name Oil Additive.
In its founding year, molybdenum disulfide was the active ingredient for a wide range of industrial and automotive products. Kfz 1, Kfz 2, Kfz 3 and Kfz 4, i.e. Oil Additive, ATF Additive, Multipurpose Grease and Installation Paste with MoS2, represented the first product range.
Market leadership, first motor oils and the birth of the company colors
In the early 1970s, the sales activities began in Germany with so-called factory representatives. Feelers were also put out abroad for the first time. Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Austria and Switzerland were the first countries outside Germany where LIQUI MOLY additives were offered. First contacts were also made overseas, especially in Chile and Argentina.
At the beginning of the 1970s, the product range, which at that time consisted mainly of MoS2 products, was supplemented by seatbelts and child car seats and, from 1973, by the first fuel additives. This product combination formed the main business until the end of the decade and brought LIQUI MOLY its outstanding position in the German additives market to this day.
The next level of success was achieved with the entry into the traditional motor oil business, which also took place at the end of the 1970s. Following the tradition, MoS2 wear protection was already added to the first motor oils, which were produced in four viscosities, ex works of the namesake firm LIQUI MOLY. The appearance of the brand also changed to reflect the product range expansion with motor oils. “LM” became “LM LIQUI MOLY” and the current company colors of blue, white and red appeared for the first time.
Brand awareness was achieved early on through successful advertising activities. Spectacular and still memorable today: Two VW Beetles driving right around Lake Constance without any motor oil, operating only on MoS2 Oil Additive. This was great proof of the performance and quality of LIQUI MOLY products, which met with the corresponding response in the media. Brands and products were also advertised for the first time in motorsport.
A fundamental decision and probably one of the decisive factors for the success of the company was made in 1978: From now on, LIQUI MOLY produced additives itself. For this purpose, the company location was moved from the city center to the outskirts of Ulm-Lehr. To this day, the company’s head office is at this address. Furthermore, the production hall was expanded in 1985 to include a new warehouse and order picking building, all of which are still in operation today.
After additives and motor oils, LIQUI MOLY’s product range grew steadily over the years. Numerous service, maintenance and care products for private as well as professional and commercial use in workshops and industry supplement the product range to this day.
Expansion of the distribution channels
LIQUI MOLY had set its course for market penetration in Germany. In 1983, the company began supplying consumer, building material and DIY stores and was thus distributed across Germany in all relevant sales channels. Car accessories, such as seatbelts, child seats and snow chains, which had been part of LIQUI MOLY’s range until then, were dropped in the following years. The company’s core competence in chemical automotive products was to be emphasized.
Change in management
In 1985, Hans Henle transferred management to his son Rudolf, who was succeeded by the duo Johannes Henle and Ernst Prost in 1993.
Establishing an important competitive advantage
LIQUI MOLY finally made its breakthrough in motor oils on the German market in 1986. The aim was not only to sell oils and additives, but also to offer its customers a complete package. The oil business was rounded off with a concept for waste oil collection and disposal. Through this measure, the LIQUI MOLY team earned the trust of many customers.
Another competitive advantage was the introduction of the oil container concept. This involved a system of replaceable and refillable oil drums, which were given to each customer for a one-time deposit fee. The concept also included all the equipment that a workshop needed to properly carry out an oil change. These were provided to all workshop customers free of charge in return for an obligation to purchase oil. LIQUI MOLY quickly recognized that customer orientation in the oil business was a major competitive advantage. One aspect of sustainability came about almost by itself: Packaging waste in the form of empty drums and canisters was largely avoided. LIQUI MOLY was already aware of its own commitment to the environment back then and continues to act proactively to this day.
Introduction of the LIQUI MOLY oil canisters
In 1987, the exclusive canister shape was created in which LIQUI MOLY motor oils are still offered today. This container is an essential part of the brand image. While in the highly competitive German market additives had taken pole position over the years, LIQUI MOLY motor oils conquered a stable position in the market leader environment. This meant that the medium-sized company LIQUI MOLY was finally established as a serious market participant among a large number of large corporations.
LIQUI MOLY in Formula 1
After LIQUI MOLY appeared as a sponsor in the sports car scene for many years, in 1989 it became a partner of the ATS team in Formula 1, the premier class of motorsport.
Acquisition of Meguin and a drastic change in distribution policy
At the beginning of the 1990s, cooperation began with the Saarland oil producer Meguin, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.
In the same year, Ernst Prost joined the company as head of marketing and sales, as well as Günter Hiermaier, the current managing director. This also set the course for the development of the still small company with a few dozen employees into a global enterprise. In some cases, the steps were drastic: Working with exclusive factory representatives in Germany inhibited the expansion of LIQUI MOLY distribution. In short, all exclusive contracts were terminated. This created the opportunity for cooperation with new distribution partners. The success of this measure became apparent in a very short time. Sales in the specialist retail channel grew abruptly. And the dependence on large-scale customers was reduced.
The logo also changed over the decades since the company was founded.
New management team
Ernst Prost bought all LIQUI MOLY shares from the founding family in two tranches between 1996 and 1998 and thus became the managing partner.
In 2006, Meguin GmbH & Co. KG became a wholly owned subsidiary of LIQUI MOLY. The following year, two new “daughters” were born: The company subsidiaries LIQUI MOLY South Africa and Portugal (today LIQUI MOLY Iberia) as well as LIQUI MOLY USA in 2008 were founded.
Growth and investments at LIQUI MOLY
LIQUI MOLY continued to grow. Not least due to a new marketing strategy that included the first nationwide advertising campaign in 2008 and the first TV advertising campaign in 2010. The success of the print and TV campaigns was characterized, among other things, by the fact that the then Managing Director Ernst Prost became the entrepreneur with the most talk show appearances. The success also had an impact on the company’s employee growth, so that 2011 welcomed the 500th member of the worldwide LIQUI MOLY family. To this day, an important milestone in the LIQUI MOLY success story!
As growth increased, major investments followed. On April 24, 2011, the foundation stone was laid for the tank farm in the Saarhafen basin of Dillingen. The corporate group invested eight million euro, created 30 new jobs and thereby secured the future of the two companies LIQUI MOLY and Meguin as well as the Saarlouis site. In 2012, the tank farm was put into operation after one year of construction. The ten storage tanks can hold up to 18,000 cubic meters or 18 million liters of raw materials for oil production. The tank storage facility is a supporting pillar for the growth of LIQUI MOLY and Meguin.
In the same year, the go-ahead was given for another major investment package. The group invested around 20 million euro at the Saarlouis and Ulm sites in, among other things, new laboratory rooms, underground tanks and a central formulation tank farm with matrix distribution, dispensing systems for canisters and barrels, the installation of packing robots and a system-supported labeling warehouse.
In 2016, LIQUI MOLY and Meguin had been following a common path for ten years – a constant path to growth.
Record sales with a growing family of companies
Record month! In August 2017, LIQUI MOLY broke the 50 million euro mark in a single month for the first time in the company’s turnover history. The next milestone followed right in the next month. The LIQUI MOLY family cracked the 800-employee mark.
LIQUI MOLY slips under the umbrella of the Würth Group
The then managing partner Ernst Prost sold his LIQUI MOLY shares to the Würth Group. Since joining LIQUI MOLY in 1990, he had successively bought the shares from the founding Henle family. The sale of these shares served to secure the long-term future of LIQUI MOLY and Meguin. Ernst Prost remained as managing director.
Progressive internationalization and expansion of brand reach
The internationalization of the business under its own control was expanded: Foundation of LIQUI MOLY Italia S.r.l. as fourth subsidiary and of LM France SAS as fifth subsidiary.
In the same year, LIQUI MOLY started advertising in Formula 1 as an official partner of the premier class – there is no greater reach in sports sponsorship.
Growth despite obstacles
The coronavirus pandemic also did not leave out LIQUI MOLY. The company countered the crisis with a large investment program – with great success. Despite the global crisis, annual sales rose to a new record. The flip side of the coin: Profits were halved.
In the same year, the sixth subsidiary was established as LIQUI MOLY Australia Pty Ltd.
The family keeps on growing
LIQUI MOLY reached a new record in March! The 1000th employee was welcomed into the ranks of the corporate family. With this achievement, LIQUI MOLY set an example even in difficult times such as the coronavirus pandemic: With 0 percent short-time work, LIQUI MOLY relied on its skilled workers and specialists, strengthened the workforce and sailed against the storm – and did so successfully thanks to a strong team!
Joy, farewell and sanctions
Carry on growing! LIQUI MOLY UK Ltd. in Great Britain and LIQUI MOLY Austria GmbH in Austria were founded as subsidiaries seven and eight.
After 32 years, Ernst Prost left LIQUI MOLY on his 65th birthday to take his well-deserved retirement. Günter Hiermaier, who had already been the second managing director alongside Ernst Prost, thus became the sole managing director.
LIQUI MOLY drew consequences from the Ukraine conflict and immediately stopped business with Russia (and Belarus). This was a tough decision, as Russia had previously been LIQUI MOLY’s largest export market. Fortunately, the US business performed all the better, so that at least a large part of the lost sales could be offset.
LIQUI MOLY is ready for the future
After strategic consideration, Dr. Uli Weller became the second managing director besides Günter Hiermaier. This decision provided the necessary security in paving the way for LIQUI MOLY to a promising future.