The founders Ferdinand David Schlüter and Johann Georg Maack.
The same code of trust, which the founding fathers took to heart in their overseas transactions, still applies at the company’ s modern office located on Hamburg’ s Stadthausbrücke. A network of international business connections has grown over the course of five generations which continuously allows SCHLÜTER & MAACK to explore new inroads, in addition to pursuing traditional avenues.
The first hundred years
From the very outset, SCHLÜTER & MAACK has devoted itself to the challenges of world markets. During the period from 1820 to the beginning of World War I, the company’ s interest focused on trade with North, Central and South America. In addition to coffee, meat and cattle products, the company imported Chile saltpeter, which for centuries was highly coveted as the only raw material for the manufacture of aniline dye, explosive materials, fertilizer and sodium nitrate. In 1866, SCHLÜTER & MAACK took over the lucrative representation of the Liebig Company from Uruguay. For nearly fifty years, the company’ s legendary meat extract molded the corporate image, in addition to import of phosphate and ferrous sulfide.
The First World War
The end of the First World War marked a major turning point in the company’ s successful corporate history. The trading company lost important overseas partners. Sailing ships, which had crossed the Atlantic since 1909, were confiscated as spoils of war, along with their cargoes. The import of coffee, which the company had initiated in the 1870’ s, came to a standstill.
Between the world wars – beginning of trade in rice and pulses
The post-war period with the adverse impact on trade caused by the Treaty of Versailles was the pre-war period of World War II with its political and economic restrictions. SCHLÜTER & MAACK used the sales organization from its idle coffee department and began trading rice and pulses in 1918. This business transpired in close cooperation with the London-based Edm. Schluter Co., which was established in 1858 – both companies have preserved their cordial relation to date.
The success of sugar imports also benefited other business sectors
Until the end of the Second World War, SCHLÜTER & MAACK was preoccupied with new assignments within the scope of a government-regulated foreign trade policy that focused on providing the general population with foodstuffs. During this period, SCHLÜTER & MAACK placed main emphasis on sugar, a product which is still important to the company today. The company’ s success during this overall critical phase was based on over one hundred years of trading experience and the professional competency of corporate management.
Good prospects after the World War II – with sugar as start-up capital
Four thousand tons of sugar, stored at the company’ s own risk at the dawn of the currency reform, were the start-up capital after the end of World War II. The demand for sugar was immense in the wake of many years of deprivation and surrogate products. The loss of growing areas for sugar beets in Eastern Germany made imports necessary to meet domestic demand. Traditional export markets were served via purchases in Central and South America. SCHLÜTER & MAACK had not lost its good name internationally and experienced little difficulty in reviving its old international connections. Just three years after WWII the house had good business prospects.
The 1950s – Resumption of trade in coffee, pulses and sugar-based feed
Other business interests benefited from the success in sugar import. In the 1950s, the company managed to take up again its traditional trade with coffee, pulses and sugar based feed. The establishment of the European Economic Community in 1958 led to structural changes in foreign trade. SCHLÜTER & MAACK had to adapt to the new Common Agricultural Policy for Sugar: instead of distributing overseas sugar the company started distribution of sugar from neighbouring EEC countries.
And took up the export of German surplus sugar to world markets. Meanwhile the expanding EU domestic market, with some 300 million consumers, presents the company with new challenges. Based on a tradition of over 200 years of international trade, the company explored new paths, in addition to pursuing its traditional avenues.
Experts in the trade with socialist countries, governments and NGOs
Already in the early 1950s the company started the trade with socialist countries, especially GDR, USSR, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Also this sensitive mission confirmed the reputation of SCHLÜTER & MAACK as reliable partner. Based on the experience with government contracts SCHLÜTER & MAACK in the early 1990s became a major food supplier of international organizations for humanitarian aid projects. Based on a traditional global network the company gained a unique reputation as bridge builder between developing countries: SCHLÜTER & MAACK managed to source for humanitarian aid projects from developing and neighboring countries – even under the most difficult conditions.