Sonax celebrates its 65th anniversary
On 11 May 1949, the Sonax brand was registered and legally protected. And in 1950, the company began to pioneer the development and manufacturing of car care products.
When Manfred Hoffman senior and his father took the entrepreneurial venture of manufacturing a car polish, the success was not at all certain. Inventiveness, a keen feel for market situations and excellent products played a major role in their success: today, Sonax GmbH in Germany employs around 350 people and, in 2014, yielded a turnover of approx. € 90million.
A brand with history
The Sonax brand’s history goes back to the beginning of the last century. From as early as 1903, the great grandfather of the present company owner Manfred Hoffmann, in Neuburg extracted siliceous earth – an extremely fine mineral which was used in many household polishes.After World War II, a second source of income was developed by manufacturing are products. So, on 11 May 1949, two brands were registered and legally protected: the “Sona” brand was mainly used for household silver polishes; for car care products, an “X” as synonym for wax was added – “Sonax” was born. With this, the company started into the car care sector as many as 65 years ago.
The beginning was of very simple nature: four Sonax representatives drove through Germany in fully loaded Volkswagen Beetles.It was the personal contact to the customers that counted; at that time,advertising was unimaginable.
The frosty breakthrough
Step by step,further car care products were added. The Neuburg laboratory, for example,developed an effective de-icer which was the first to be marketed in an aerosolcan – a big seller in the cold winter of 1962.
In his book“For Love of the Automobile”, Wolfgang Sachs observes: “In the thirteen years from 1960 to 1973 the number of private automobiles quadrupled, the number of kilometres driven tripled, and the total extent of freeways doubled. (...) The wheeled society was launched.” The everyday life of Germans changed as well. OnSaturdays, the car was ritually washed, rarely by the petrol pump attendant but rather manually by the proud car owner. The car care products demand jumped up– and with it the success of the Sonax brand.
In the mid-1960s the first fully automated car wash facilities were built. Sonax accompanied the breakthrough right from the beginning as quality supplier of cleaning and care products. At the same time, the company had been advancing its programme for manual car care continuously.
In 1984,the year Manfred Hoffmann entered the company, the turnover had grown to are markable 30 million D-marks. First, the vast majority was achieved with private brands of trading, petroleum companies and car manufacturers. In the mid-1980s, however, the Neuburg enterprise began to systematically build up the premium car care brand. The product range was expanded continuously; the catchy brand image, advertising and first sponsorships helped gain more and more awareness. Thanks to successful motorsport partnerships such as withHans-Joachim Stuck, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna or Heinz-Harald Frentzen the brand had built up national and international reputation.
Another push for the enterprise’s development was the German reunification – since1989, the turnover has doubled within a short time. Today, the brand is represented in 100 countries around the globe. Exports increased to more than43 per cent, and Sonax products are sold throughout Europe and on all continents. Traditionally, the company reaches high market shares in theGerman-speaking countries and in Scandinavia. But the brand also excels inEastern European markets. Similarly,cleaning and care products “made in Germany” have made their mark in Asian countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and Thailand. And the Sonax products have won many fans in South America, the United States and Canada.
Sponsorships in international motorsports have had a lasting impact on the brand image –particularly in the Formula 1. In the royal league of motorsports, Sonax first delivered a brilliant performance as partner of the BAR Honda and McLarenMercedes teams. Since 2012, the brand has been in the pole position as“Official Supplier” to the team Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Many partnerships in the DTM such as with Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Audi or BMW have left a positive impression at national level. In addition, for many years Sonax has supported young talents on international race tracks by getting involved in the unofficial Formula 1 rookie series GP2 or in the Formula 3.
“Made in Germany” – geared to growth
The latest chapter of success has particularly been accompanied by extensive expansion activities. In 2008, the new and generous reception and administrative building with its modern training facilities opened its doors – and has become the company’s showpiece on the Münchener Straße. In 2012, the construction of the new centre for applications engineering set the course for intensified research and development activities. Tens of millions of euros have then be invested to expand the manufacturing and logistics capacities. The new facilities were put into operation in 2014. The opening ceremony welcomed employees, many guests from the worlds of business and politics including Minister-President of the FreeState of Bavaria Horst Seehofer.
Thus, Sonax meets the global demands with a high commitment to its location, as owner andManaging Director Manfred Hoffmann emphasises: “We feel at home in Neuburg, the city is our basis. And Sonax is part of it.” Hence, on their expansion path,the Bavarians deliberately set accents in terms of sustainability: “It was one of our key concerns to fortify our economic advancements with expansions that are compatible with our environment, that are linked to energy conservation and that are beneficial for biological diversity. We combine our corporate future with the ecological future of the region,” Hoffmann says.
For the perfect appearance of the automobile – and for many other areas
From compact cars, medium-sized vehicles to luxury cars, from motorsports, the tuning scene to the world of classic cars: Sonax supports all car enthusiasts and experts when it comes to the perfect appearance of vehicles. For the car care products to be available throughout the world, Sonax closely collaborates with trading partners from the specialised trade, DIY sector, petroleum companies and car manufacturers. Since the late 1990s, strong growth impulses has also emerged from the development and manufacturing of the product range for professional vehicle valeting and paintwork finish.
But Sonax also grows in other sectors: in recent years, many new application areas have been developed in industries and in the skilled crafts and trade that are new for the company. This includes the agro industry, hardware trade, forestry sector, construction, production engineering or the sanitary sector.
In spite of the meteoric development, from a silver polish to a broad array of products and services for car care, industry and trade, Sonax has always remained a family-owned enterprise. It is characterised by short decision-making processes, motivated and committed employees, and the readiness and ability to innovate. Thus, the Sonax brand can be certain to continue inspiring many customers in the future.
SONAX Building Germany
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Sonax petrol station, sales campain
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Sonax Product in the 50th
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Sonax Owner Manfred Hoffmann
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Sonax head office in Neuburg on the Danube
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Sonax “Microbus”: the VW T1
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Sonax creative marketing measures in the 50th
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New Sonax Production Area
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