Ern-Gruppe was established in 1873 as razor manufacturer C. Friedrich Ern in today’s district Wald of the City of Solingen. Already in the following year first export business was set up in the United States of America. Part of the first introduced innovations in the razor blade production by Ern was the construction of a groundwood mill, propelled by a steam-engine in the late 1870s.
Through further enhancements in hollow grinding and finishing, among other things by constructing a grinding machine that was capable of grinding both sides of a razor at the same time and by introducing sub-operation to the razor production, Ern enabled mass production and grew to the largest razor manufacturer in Germany. In the course of time Ern was able to replace the razors coming from Sheffield on the global market with his cheaper, more cuttable and hollow-grounded razors. Just before the beginning of the 20th century, Ern-Gruppe was extended by a real estate development company.
From the beginning Ern cared about the well-being of his workers. Because of that he introduced a health insurance for all his employees as one of the first entrepreneurs in Germany in 1883. Furthermore he built an open air bath for his workers in 1913, which was opened in 1916: Open air bath “Ittertal”. Ern opened the bath for outsiders of his company too, so that people from the whole Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region came to enjoy themselves. In 1936 the city of Solingen took over the bath.
In the early 1900s further product developments and process optimization in the razor production followed. In 1902 Ern invented a new forging procedure which became standard in Solingen’s razor industry and was basis for its success.
In the 1920s and 1930s Ern’s range of products was extended by razor blades, clipping machines and pocketknives. Ern-Gruppe grew to more than 1,000 employees in 1925 and became the global market leader for razor blades.
Shortly after the Second World War in 1946 reconstruction of Ern-Gruppe’s headquarter started, after it was hit by a bomb during air attacks on Solingen. In 1964 Ern established the mail-order business as an additional business unit. Most known brands were “1a Versand”, “Tina” and “Der schlanke Schnitt”. In the 1990s famous brand “Uncle Sam” was added to the portfolio.
The first commercial real estate development projects were carried out in 1968, which were extended to the newly-formed German states in the east in 1998 after German reunification in 1990. Ern-Gruppe evolved to a group of 20 family owned companies and 840 employees Europe-wide.
Since 2015 Ern-Gruppe in particular is active in the fields of real estate development, advisory and venture capital financing. Focus lies on the development of own real estate projects and in intermediation of real estate investments from abroad to Germany, especially from China, India and the Middle East.
In 2018 Ern-Gruppe became one of two partners from the private sector of the “International Business Center Solingen” (IBCS), which is an initiative of the Economic Development of the City of Solingen. The IBCS acts as the central contact point for international business people in Solingen with the aim of providing a holistic service offer for international businessmen and advertising Solingen in the world.
Besides the businesses, social commitment stayed important to the management of Ern-Gruppe all the time: In the 1990s the “Christiane Herzog Stiftung”, which is fighting mucoviscidosis, was supported. Nowadays Ern-Gruppe sponsored theater contests in Solingen in 2018 and 2019 and is supporting “Leistungssport Solingen gGmbH”, which is enhancing competitive sports in Solingen.