“Wagen un winnen” or “Taking a chance to win” - Diersch & Schröder’s history would be unthinkable without the pioneering spirit expressed in the Bremen merchant’s saying. Otto Diersch took this motto literally: optimistic, open-minded and daring, he founded his own company for lubricants on 5 October 1920. This marked the beginning of an entrepreneurial life story. In today’s parlance, it would be called a successful start-up - providing a future for himself, his family and the following generations.
Young Otto Diersch from Bremen entered the mineral oil business at the young age of 18, carrying oil cans and pushing hand carts. Aided by his younger brother Friedrich (known as Friedel), he filled small containers with lubricants from 200-litre barrels. He moved to the port and industrial area on foot and with a handcart full of oil canisters. He found his customers at the fishing and coastal steamers and at the factories by Stephanikirchenweide meadow on the right-hand banks of the River Weser. If required, he sold small quantities by the oil can.
Working together with partners, he expanded the company in the following years.
Otto Diersch had already progressed far with his down-to-earth attitude typical of the people of Bremen when Wolfgang Karstedt joined the company in 1954 and internationalised its business by importing mineral oil products directly and exporting semi-finished products. Wolfgang Karstedt and Ingeborg Diersch, Otto Diersch’s only daughter, had married in 1951.
Discovering trends and markets was the order of the day in the years of the post-war rebirth of the German economy. Under the guidance of Wolfgang Karstedt, lubricants trade was expanded to become an international gas oil import business and the chemicals division was established. This entailed substantial investments in tank storage, shipping and chemicals.
With the arrival of the sons of the third generation, Bernd, Axel and Svend Karstedt, Diersch & Schröder has evolved since the 1980s into a diverse and globally active group of companies active in trade, production and services in the energy industry and in the chemical sector. In addition to petroleum business, tank storage also underwent considerable expansion with oil stockpiling following German unification and the addition of the new German states as well as in Eastern Europe, and with the commencement by DS-Lager of molasse storage activities and transhipment.
In 1979 Bernd Karstedt joined the company, becoming managing director of Diersch & Schröder-Holding together with his father Wolfgang Karstedt. Together, they forged ahead with the conditioned expansion of traditional business lines, international growth and forays into business in renewable energies. At the end of 2010, Bernd Karstedt withdrew from active business and took over as Chairman of the DS Advisory Council.
In 2011, the family entrusted the management of the company to Jan Christiansen and Henning Thiele, who have continued the group’s growth trajectory. As part of the reorganisation of the business areas, parts of the renewable energy sector were integrated into the traditional oil sector and, with the expansion of the end user business with the companies Leu Energie, Lanfer Energie and Kreuzmayr Bayern, the basis for the sustainable positioning in the energy sector was created. Thanks to its organic growth, but also the acquisition of the LEVACO Chemicals Group, Defotec and Alpha Chemie, the Chemicals division became a second strong pillar. We are currently breaking new ground by investing in promising young companies. Our two companies SCS and Lynatox are both active in GreenTech. These young companies are also generating attractive impulses for our traditional businesses.
Our future course will be determined by our efforts to strengthen and develop our traditional businesses as well as identifying and rolling out new business models. Diversification and controlled growth form the backbone of the DS Group’s sustained future development.