Bernhard Friedrichs Senior is authorised to manage a going concern. His first steps in craftsmanship take Bernhard Friedrichs down the path of a grouting and repair business. Thanks to his artisanal skills, he quickly picks up the knowledge required in the roofing trade, too. Coming from a humble background and the need to spend each day earning a living make it impossible for him to earn his master craftsman's diploma in the years that ensued, however. His membership of the SPD then prevents this qualification during the years of the Third Reich.
During the permanent state of emergency of the war years, work in the family business grinds to a virtual standstill. Bernhard Friedrichs is one of many called up for service in the Wehrmacht.
Bernhard Friedrichs picks up where he left off before the war. Smaller repairs just about enable him to sustain his family of seven. For lack of a master craftsman's diploma, he is prohibited from practicing his craft again by the same people who made it difficult for him to practice his profession earlier during the 'Thousand-Year Reich', however. Bernhard Friedrichs' knowledge of the dubious past of these authority members ultimately leads to the intervention of the district president and he is given special dispensation to continue his work. By this time, all five sons already work in the small business in the afternoon after school – Benno, Dieter and Rolf exhibit particular talent and commitment. At this point, Friedrichs is purely a family business with no additional full-time staff members.
Benno Friedrichs, the eldest son and a passionate roofer, goes out into the big wide world. He leaves Germany to seek his fortune in the New World. Canada is the land of his dreams.
Since the remaining older brothers are unable to continue the business, the second youngest son, Dieter Friedrichs, decides to train as a roofer. At the same time, he has the objective of becoming a master craftsman firmly in sight.
Dieter Friedrichs successfully completes his examination at the Arnsberg Chamber of Crafts on 3 October 1963. It is finally possible for a member of the Friedrichs family to hold the master craftsman's diploma in the roofing trade unchallenged.
Benno Friedrichs returns from Canada. The two brothers run the company under the name 'Friedrichs Brothers' from 1 January 1964 to 1 May 1965. The first tax audit is due a year later. The outcome of this audit forces Benno Friedrichs to move away from Germany again and return to Canada to seek his fortune. He wants to work with his hands and make money rather than working for the State. The company's first new site at Flaßkamp 1 is bought during this period.
Dieter Friedrichs and his wife Anita continue to run the business without his brother. The era of the economic miracle and especially the boom in construction allow him to position his business on the market successfully. It doesn't take long before several full-time roofers can be employed. The foundations for a sustained and solid customer base are laid in the years 1965 and 1966. The company's catchment area is gradually extended to include the City of Münster.
Thanks to sustained economic success, purchasing the company's second site at Flaßkamp 24 heralds the start of a forward-looking path. These additional areas are urgently needed for the
ever-expanding company to work more efficiently. As sole owner of the company, Dieter Friedrichs is responsible for increasingly large projects in the years that ensue.
The first mobile crane is bought – an investment that imitators in the roofing industry do not make until years later.
Bernhard Friedrichs, the son of Dieter Friedrichs, decides to carry on the family tradition and starts his apprenticeship at local roofing company Wolfgang Kreimer GmbH & Co. KG. In return, the son of Wolfgang Kreimer, Uwe Kreimer, starts his apprenticeship as a roofer at the company of Dieter Friedrichs. An agreement between two entrepreneurs that underlines the friendly relationship of the two family businesses and demonstrates that competition does not have to mean hostility. The staff of Friedrichs grows to 30 employees.
Bernhard Friedrichs successfully completes his examination for the master craftsman's diploma in the roofing trade at the Arnsberg Chamber of Crafts at just 22 years of age.
The company changes its legal status. 'Dieter Friedrichs Bedachungen' becomes 'Dieter Friedrichs Dach und Wand GmbH'. From this point on, Dieter Friedrichs and Bernhard Friedrichs Jr. run the company as co-directors with equal powers. Although the company enjoys constant growth, it never loses the character of a family business. There are times when nine members of the immediate family work in the company simultaneously. Two nephews of Dieter Friedrichs, Jürgen and Jochen Friedrichs, as well as the older brother, Rolf, carry on the tradition of qualified roofers. Even Simone Friedrichs, his daughter and the sister of Bernhard, successfully completes her final examination as a roofer. In his wife, Heike (née Stöppler), Bernhard Friedrichs has not only found the right partner for the rest of his life, but also a comrade-in-arms – coming from the textile industry – for the future development of the company.
The end of the 1980s was marked by a deep recession in the construction industry. After the shock of the reunification, anything seems possible. The sky is the limit. The industry is booming, making it possible to increase the Friedrichs headcount to more than 50 in the mid-90s. At the same time, the continuous and sustained training of the company's own specialists proves a decisive advantage. The business trains almost 90% of all the craftsmen, thus making them the backbone of the company.
Regular new investments, such as buying a third mobile crane with remote control, the purchase of CNC sheet metal processing machines, and the permanent enlargement of the fleet of vehicles with simultaneously increasing pressure to rationalise accelerate the company's alignment toward major projects. The largest and most profitable projects to date with contract values of up to DM 2.2 million are carried out successfully during this period. The Stadtwerke Münster utility company's new development, the Tibus retirement home's new development, the Theatre car park or Provinzial insurance company's new development in Münster are only a few examples.
Friedrichs is one of many companies to be affected by a drop in orders in the construction industry. As a result, the full-time headcount has to be reduced to 35 employees. Where possible, this
inescapable downsizing is absorbed by natural staff turnover and the retirement of a number of employees – for it is important that we don't lose sight of our social responsibility in such
periods, too. Retaining good employees is a particular challenge when there is a lack of orders and profitability is on a downward trend. People who are purely economically-minded wouldn't
understand this way of thinking.
During this period, voices that criticise employee loyalty are always met with the question: "What is happiness?" Anyone who considers this question will discover their own answer at some point. And the answer does not have a euro symbol as its unit of measure.
Thanks to investing steadily in previous years and the enduring principle of quality, the steady expansion of the range of services, but thanks especially to the ongoing training of employees, the company is able to fall back on a large customer base, which makes it possible to overcome such dry spells as this, too.
Bernd Friedrichs is elected Master of the Steinfurt Roofers' Guild by his fellow guild members. Another step on the journey to moving the roofing trade forward with the firm intention of assuming responsibility in the society on a voluntary basis.
The company's site at Flaßkamp 1 is expanded by a further 1,100 m² through the purchase of a section of a plot. The idea is that part of this plot will be used in the future for a showroom with adjacent outdoor area for a high-quality presentation of the company's various services. The two sites now cover an area totalling some 8,000 m².
Delegates of 28 affiliated guilds of the Westphalia Association of Trade Guilds elect Bernhard Friedrichs vice-chair of the Westphalia Association of Roofers' Guilds. As one of two regional vice-guild masters, he thus represents some 1,200 roofing trade businesses in Westphalia and is fully committed to supporting them on a voluntary basis.
The sudden and unexpected death of senior partner Dieter Friedrichs represents a sad chapter in the company's history. In Dieter Friedrichs, the family loses an exemplary leader, a perfect craftsman, and a loving father. The void he leaves behind both on a personal level and in terms of craftsmanship is extremely difficult to fill. From this point on, Bernhard Friedrichs continues to run the company as sole director in the spirit of and with a constant eye on the far-sighted actions of his father.
A cooperation agreement is concluded with the Ahaus-based roofing company Helmut Daume Dachhandwerk. The aim is to cooperate in the execution of ventilated curtain façades. In architect Michael Neuhaus, a highly qualified staff member is employed. In his capacity as project manager for the two companies, Michael develops this area of business further.
Luis Friedrichs, son of Heike and Bernhard, begins his training in the roofing trade.
The course for carrying on the business in the fourth generation has thus been set.