REICH was founded in 1919 by the brothers Karl and Franz Reich in Zella-Mehlis / Thuringia in Germany. What started off as a small family business with the production of bicycle parts has since evolved into a leading manufacturer of turned parts such as transmission and steering system components, ball bearings and components for fuel injection systems.

Today REICH and REICH USA with its subsidiary REICH LLC have grown into an internationally operating enterprise. REICH, however, is still deeply rooted in its hometown Mellrichstadt. With more than 850 employees and production facilities covering more than 48,000 sqm, REICH is one among the large medium-sized German companies that until today is still completely family-owned and -run.

Technology & progress

1919 – 1928
1919: Company founded in Zella-Mehlis, Germany

The two brothers Franz and Karl Reich open a bicycle parts factory in their parents' house in the German region of Thuringia. For the first two years, manufacturing takes place in the cellar. After completing construction of a new two-story building in the garden, they move the workshop there.

1923: Growth in difficult times

The young company weathers the hyperinflation of German currency, which peaks in autumn of 1923, without trouble. REICH reaches 100 employees and constructs a generously proportioned new machine room and workshop in order to expand its production of bottom brackets, sprockets, brakes and small parts.

1929 – 1938
1932/33: Production of bicycle bells commences

A new product arrives in the sales catalog that will shape the company's fortunes: REICH begins producing bicycle bells "of all types and designs". The bells' good reputation draws customers from abroad and even from across the Atlantic.

1934: Portfolio expands

The company supplements its product catalog with turned, milled and stamped parts for various industries as well as ball bearings for conveyors. The ball bearings instantly become a mainstay of the company's turnover, with 90 percent of production being devoted to them after only a year in the company's portfolio.

1939 – 1948
1941: Backup operation in nearby Mellrichstadt

At the beginning of the war, REICH employs 250 employees and is converted into an armaments factory. In 1941, to mitigate the threat of bombing attacks, the aviation ministry constructs a backup production line fifty kilometers away in Mellrichstadt.

1946: A new beginning in the West

At the end of the war, the ball bearing factory in Zella-Mehlis falls into the hands of the Soviet occupying forces. The brothers Hans and Heinrich Reich flee to Mellrichstadt, where they restart the company with production of bicycle bells.

1947: Branch in Fladungen founded

After American troops stationed there are pulled out, REICH purchases part of a facility that formerly belonged to Nazi Germany's labor service. Located about 20 kilometers northwest of Mellrichstadt, the new plant employs up to 90 workers producing first bicycle pedals and then also carrier rollers and ball bearings.

1949 – 1958
1949: First staff association committee elected

The first staff association committee at REICH is elected only four years after the end of the war. Five men and two women become responsible for bringing the interests of Reich's employees, who now number about 400, to the company management's attention.

1952/1953: Upswing in the border zone

Germany's "economic miracle" reaches Mellrichstadt, where REICH invests in a new machine hall, annexes, remodeling and new machinery. Just a few years later, a new cafeteria is constructed to replace the previous mobile solution.

1954: Reich becomes a limited partnership

REICH changes its legal structure from that of a general partnership (REICH OHG) to that of a limited partnership, REICH & Co. KG, in order to prepare for the future. The company serves customers in Europe (both the EEC and the EFTA) and overseas, especially the USA.

1959 – 1968
1962: Social responsibility toward employees

Vacation should be affordable for everyone. So REICH purchases a vacation home in Kelchsau, Austria, for discounted use by its employees and their families. Four years before, the company had already opened a support fund to provide its staff with company retirement provisions.

1964: A visit from the Federal President

During his tour of the border regions, Federal President Heinrich Lübke visits REICH, then the largest employer in Mellrichstadt. Over a glass of champagne with Hans and Heinrich Reich, Germany's head of state bears witness to the possibility of economic success even within the zone border regions.

1969 – 1978
1969: Fiftieth anniversary

REICH looks back on a successful half century, having grown to employ over 400 staff and operate more than 600 machines in production halls totaling 11,000 square meters (nearly 120,000 square feet).

1972: "REICH Glocke" employee magazine

The first edition of REICH Glocke ("REICH Bell") contains reports from the company management and staff association on anniversaries, the order situation, and training questions. Even today, this publication is still issued twice per year to keep the staff informed on current company affairs.

1977: The third generation of company management

Karl-Hermann Reich, son of Hans Reich, joins the company management. The oil crisis of 1973 and the accompanying drop in business makes for a tense time, but the situation improves again soon after, with REICH's sales topping 20 million Deutschmarks for the first time ever in 1978.

1979 – 1988
1979: Company renamed to REICH GmbH & Co. KG

REICH changes its legal structure again from a limited partnership to a limited partnership with a limited liability company as general partner (GmbH & Co. KG).

1980: Reorientation toward the automotive industry

REICH reorients toward a new industry by producing components for gasoline systems. In the years that follow, automotive manufacturers and their suppliers become the most important group of customers for the company. The REICH portfolio of automotive products is continually expanded.

1989 – 1998
1989: The fall of the wall

Within a month of the GDR opening the inner German border on November 9, 1989, a total of 330,000 visitors from the east pour into Mellrichstadt. This year, REICH's orders grow by 12 percent to a record total of 51 million Deutschmarks, of which 15 percent is invested in new machines.