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70 years of rubber flooring expertise

The road to becoming a rubber specialist

We can look back on 70 years of competence in the production of rubber floor coverings and system solutions and proudly bearthe title „Made in Germany“. The secret behind the production of these extremely robust yet elastic floor coverings lies in the perfect rubber formula that we at nora systems have perfected over the past decades for the manufacture of our floor coverings.

Members. Moments. Milestones.

Members. Moments. Milestones.

Just like every family, every company also has its ups and downs. But the important thing is to know at every stage who you are and where you belong. And to show that, in the end, we are all pulling together, and hopefully in the same direction. This has always been the case since the production start of nora floor coverings 70 years ago. Many of our employees have been a part of nora for many years while others are relative newcomers. But the same applies to all: Every one of has a part in writing nora's history and makes the company what is is. And we can all be proud of that. Our company history has many chapters. Come with us on a trip to the past and see how nora became what it is today.

 

Click right arrow to move through nora's history

1849 | Even in 1849, we were ahead of the times

Bavaria was the first German state to issue a postage stamp. A certain Walter Hunt was granted a patent for his invention, the safety pin, and two hat-makers from London introduced the Bowler hat to the world of fashion. Yes, 1849 was not a year that was short of innovation. And no less in Weinheim, where Heinrich Christian Heintze and Carl Johann Freudenberg did their first day's work at their business partnership Heintze & Freudenberg on 9 February. They had 50 employees right from the word go. Their business concept: a tannery specialising in making fine calfskin. Their unique selling point was their high standard of quality. Every one of the 75 steps of leather production had to be optimised to guarantee the top quality of their product. This original principle of outstanding quality was maintained by Freudenberg is still a central theme at nora today. Even in 1849, it was obvious that the first-class products would be in great demand both in Germany and further afield. Heintze & Freudenberg leather was much sought-after in France and was a huge success in England. Orders were even received from across the pond: the "Made in Weinheim" stamp became a seal of quality even in the USA. Freudenberg developed their first innovation just one year after founding the business. The company prospered after the introduction of patent leather production in 1850. In 1874, Carl Johann Freudenberg bought out the Heintze family and became the sole company proprieter. The company was rebranded Carl Freudenberg and develops into the largest tannery in Germany, later in Europe.

Image: Carl Johann Freudenberg | © Freudenberg & Co. KG, company archive

1929 | Surviving the Great Depression with ingenuity

The Roaring Twenties came to an abrupt end. On 24 October 1929, the New York Stock Exchange was thrown into turmoil which turned into panic as share prices crashed. The value of stock plummeted. And the effects of Black Thursday also shook Europe. This financial disaster is referred to as the Great Depression. Naturally, its effects were also felt in Weinheim. The entire German leather industry suffered a sobering slump. Many feared for their income and livelihood, but Freudenberg refused to be crushed. Quite the opposite: they saw it as an opportunity to stimulate innovation and expand their ideas. The company now employed 3,500 workers. To keep the company afloat and avoid mass redundancies, the managing directors decided to switch production to making sleeve seals. Naturally, they were made from leather, the same core substance that had enabled the company to thrive, but in a new business sector. The seals proved to be a hit with great potential. They found appreciative buyers in the newly expanding automobile industry. The Carl Freudenberg distribution company was founded in 1929 in Boston before the outbreak of the global economic crisis. This representative office was intended to mitigate the negative effects of currency fluctuations on the crucial American trade. Innovation and internationalisation were retained as two of the cornerstones of company philosophy, both at Freudenberg and, later, also at nora systems. And they still are today.

Image: Production of the first seals on a screw press 1929 │ © Freudenberg & Co. KG, company archive

1938 | A shortage of leather, but not of ideas

Resources were dwindling, but courage and optimism were available in abundance. In Germany the mid 1930s, leather became increasingly hard to come by. This was one consequence of Nazi economic policy. As ever, this was not a cause for Freudenberg to despair. They saw this as a chance to strike out in new directions. As the leather supplies dried up, they continued to research and develop until they found an equivalent alternative. And rubber was the material of choice for seals. They developed a sealing ring made from Perbunan (Buna N), a synthetic rubber. With this new product, Freudenberg once again set standards that gained international attention. The 1932 development of the Simmering® was a milestone for vehicle and machine drive technology. It was improved considerably by the Perbunan lip seal in 1936. Another innovation was developed at the same time. Buna proved to be an ideal material for the durable yet low-cost nora shoe soles that went into mass production in 1938. They were a huge success. The result: these innovative soles were produced in multi-shift operation. One chemist was responsible for developing the rubber compounds: Dr Walter Nürnberger. A short and punchy new product name was derived from his surname: nora, an abbreviation of Norimberga, the Latin name for Nuremberg.

Image: Production of nora shoe heels │ © Freudenberg & Co. KG, Unternehmensarchiv

1950 | On the path of expansion

Things were looking up in Germany. The 1950s and 1960s saw an economic upturn whose effects were also felt and seen in the tranquil town on the Mountain Road in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Freudenberg also expanded both in Germany and abroad. As early as 1950, the first overseas production company was set up in Massachusetts USA to manufacture interlining fabrics for the clothing industry. Further subsidiaries and holdings followed in Europe and the Far East. The creative minds at Freudenberg were also busy developing new technologies. Based on the hypothesis that if you can walk on something, then that thing can also be walked upon, the shoe soles evolved step by step, you might say, into our floor coverings. In this way, another company mainstay was added after a few teething problems (collaboration between the laboratory and sales took some time to coordinate). Even back then, these floor coverings were appreciated for the many merits that still distinguish them today, 70 years later: they are easy to clean, low wear and suitable for use in a variety of applications.

Image: Weighing the raw materials for the rubber mixtures 1952 │ © Freudenberg & Co. KG, company archive

1967 | The pastille is launched and becomes a classic

The single floor covering product line noraplan was favourably accepted. A second product line was developed based on the first. At the end of the 1960s, norament was launched as a pastille-type rubber flooring tile. Over 80,000 square metres of the flooring was installed in Frankfurt airport and a showpiece was born. The project garnered international attention and a gratifying number of imitators, in other words, new customers. For many decades, the robust and wear-resistant flooring withstood even the heaviest luggage trolleys and stubbed-out cigarettes in the airport on the river Main. New areas of application were developed, from offices, nursery schools and universities to museums. And the pastille flooring even became all the rage in private homes in the 1960s and 1970s. The nora pastille became a classic amongst synthetic rubber floor coverings, just as the Kleenex brand became synonymous with paper tissues. It was even immortalised on a postage stamp. The reason why architects, builders and planners were so devoted to this flooring, covered with little round pastilles just 0.5 millimetres high, is still justified today: It is extremely comfortable to stand and walk on, resilient and long-lasting, easy to clean and produces an attractive and unique look in interiors.

Image: Frankfurt Airport │ © nora systems

1996 | Looking to the future: The Freudenberg Bausysteme business group is founded

FOKUS – these five letters stand for Freudenberg Organisation (für) kundenorientierte Unternehmens-Struktur (Freudenberg Organisation for Customer-oriented business Structure). In 1996, Freudenberg modified its structures under this motto to create a broad and international business base. The business areas were split into independent group divisions. This gave them more autonomy and enabled them to perform quickly and with customer-orientation in the constantly shifting markets, always with the objective of providing customer satisfaction. Freudenberg was transformed into a company with a decentralised management structure. The new, more flexible group divisions concentrated on their specialist capabilities and respective target groups. The product ranges were adapted, and the distribution channels streamlined. This was a decision suited to the new millennium and an approach that numerous major corporations have today adopted. One of the group divisions was Freudenberg Bausysteme, which managed the nora brand.

Image: Logo of the FOKUS project │ © Freudenberg & Co. KG, company archive

2007 | Freudenberg Bausysteme becomes nora systems

Every separation leads to a new beginning. Freudenberg Bausysteme officially became nora systems GmbH on 25 October 2007 when the new company was entered in the commercial register. Freudenberg sold the floor covering business to a consortium of investors under the leadership of Capiton AG. The two product ranges were established as "flooring systems" and "shoe components". Finding a name for the new company was simple. According to the management spokesperson at the time, they took the opportunity afforded by the takeover and rebranding process to incorporate the name of the strong nora brand into the future company name.

2016 | ICG – three letters that set the course for the future

Advancing systematically step by step. In 2016, investments at the Weinheim site will be higher than they have been for one and a half decades. Another chapter in strengthening and expanding our market position had begun. This also involved the minority shareholders ICG acquiring the majority interest in nora systems. By 2013, ICG already owned 26 percent of the shares. Now the course was set for further success in the future. Solid growth was achieved in North America and China and the European key markets were secured.

Image: noraplan lona │ © nora systems

2018 | Interface gains a new family member with nora

It is 14 July 2018. This day stands for another milestone in our company history. The American company Interface, based in Atlanta, acquires nora systems – a company with a great deal of market experience, with well-established structures and a huge amount of innovative capacity evidenced by their varied and high-quality products. The associated press release communicated their objectives to the public: "As a result of this takeover, nora systems will extend our rapidly expanding range of resilient floor coverings and increase our visibility in fast-growing market segments and regions." From the very beginning, it was apparent that the business of the two companies complemented each other perfectly with regards to product lines and markets.

2020 | 70 years old and still going strong

In the here and now. nora has continued to develop over recent years and Interface offers an excellent framework for this progress. We now acquire all our electricity requirements from renewable sources and nora floor coverings are CO2 neutral across their entire product life cycle. We have achieved further milestones in terms of sustainability. For instance, the CNF programme and noraplan's new C2C certificate. All this means that our customers can be surer than ever that our materials are both sustainable and healthy. We have always been distinguished by our innovative capabilities. Our anniversary would not have been possible without it. But nora floor coverings are fresher than ever at 70 years of age. And this is because we remain true to our fundamental values, which include the strength to continually reinvent ourselves and the courage to explore new directions.

Image: Pudong Airport – with over 200,000 m² the largest norament installation in the history of nora │ © nora systems

The name nora

The name nora originated from the inventor of the rubber compound, the chemist Dr. Walter Nürnberger (lat. norimbergensis). Under this brand name, we develop, produce and sell high-quality, elastic floor coverings and stair treads as well as suitable accessories. However, our expert knowledge extends not only over the entire manufacturing process of the floor coverings, but also includes the most diverse market segments, such as industry, health and education, whose individual requirements for our floors have been optimally adapted over the course of time. Our norament® and noraplan® product lines stand for the highest quality throughout the world.

Unique customer service

Our customers always come first for us and can rest assured that they will achieve outstanding results for their building when working with nora®. From tender support to on-site installation monitoring by our technicians to after-sales service - nora always remains a reliable partner at the side of its customers. By sharing our expertise with our customers, we can help them make the best choice for their individual projects. Since 2018, the nora systems GmbH belongs to the internationally active Interface Group. With nora, Interface complements its product mix of carpet tile and LVT with rubber flooring, giving customers more choices to meet their flooring needs across endless commercial applications.

 
The road to becoming a rubber flooring specialist
 

Our sustainability journey

As a part of the Interface Group, the nora systems GmbH has been included into the Carbon Neutral Floors™ program in 2019, which means that nora rubber floor coverings are CO₂ neutral* across their entire product lifecycle. Offered as a standard to every customer, at no extra cost, the Carbon Neutral Floors™ program helps our customers to meet their own sustainability goals.

* nora floor coverings are CO₂ neutral over the entire product life cycle. We are continuously working on further reducing CO₂ emissions within the value chain through various measures. Remaining CO₂ emissions are off set by the acquisition of certificates relating to audited emission reduction projects.

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

nora factory Weinheim, Germany, 1965

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

nora factory: historical photo of logistics facility

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

Historical silo tower "CFW nora": Carl Freudenberg Weinheim - nora

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

Historical photo: filling of raw material silo at nora factory, Weinheim, Germany

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

Historical photo: rubber flooring production at nora factory, Weinheim, Germany

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

nora shipment in 1964

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

Historical calender in building 34, nora factory Weinheim

Impressions from 70 years of nora flooring production

norament jubilee in 1984

 

Inspired by nature, perfected by technology

Nature often provides the best ideas. This also applies to nora floor coverings, which are manufactured from high-quality natural and industrial rubbers. Added to this are minerals from natural deposits and other components such as environmentally friendly colour pigments - and ready is the basis for an extremely durable and at the same time permanently elastic classic "Made in Germany". Thanks to the special properties of rubber, nora floor coverings require neither phthalate plasticizers nor coatings and keep their unique functionality and aesthetics for decades. No less unique is the nora complete system. With an unparalleled range of accessories and comprehensive service, it ensures both a harmonious and cross-functional design - across all surfaces, stairs and floors.

 
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