In the mid-19th century, a young man from Thuringia, Germany, set off for Bremen to start his own company. More than 160 years later, his business has grown into one of the largest family-owned logistics companies worldwide. This is the Röhlig story.
It has always been the courageous entrepreneurs that have made the greatest things happen. Carl Röhlig is an example of just such an entrepreneur. Born and raised in Eisenach, the son of a businessman, he was drawn north to the Free State of Bremen. His vision was to start his own enterprise. He was the right man at the right time and at the right place. As industrialization took its course, inland steamships conquered the oceans and Bremen became a key global trading center. In 1852, Carl Röhlig seized the opportunity to set up a tobacco and insurance business - the origin of Röhlig & Co.
Seven years later, he expanded his business and developed the sea freight operations trade. Röhlig & Co. started by shipping European emigrants luggage to the New World and were able to secure goods for the return voyage, thus making it a highly successful operation. The company grew steadily and the founder traveled around the world to acquire new customers and partners. When Carl Röhlig died in 1886, his two sons Oskar and Eduard took over Röhlig & Co. Following the example set by their father, they aimed to develop relationships with importers in North America with a view to gaining new overseas clients. They were successful and the business continued to grow. Soon the first branch offices were opened in Hamburg and Bremerhaven.