Albert Boehringer (1861 – 1939) was the grandson of Christian Friedrich Boehringer (1791 – 1867) who started a family company with his partner Christian Gotthold Engelmann (1787 – 1841) in 1817 in Stuttgart.
In 1885, Albert Boehringer purchased a small tartar factory in the Rhine-Hessian village of Nieder-Ingelheim. On 31 July, his company was included in the commercial register as “Albert Böhringer, chem. Fabrik vom 1. Aug. 1885 ab”. This laid the foundation for the present-day company Boehringer Ingelheim. He initially employed 28 people to manufacture tartaric acid salts used by pharmacies and dyeing works. Demand for this product surged in the first few years as fizzy lemonade and baking powder become popular.
In 1893, Boehringer made the ground-breaking discovery that lactic acid can be produced in mass quantities by means of bacteria, a discovery that saw the company pioneer large-scale "biotech" production. This new process, combined with the high demand for lactic acid in the dyeing, leather, textile and food industry, saw the company become the leading manufacturer of this agent.
By the time of Albert Boehringer’s death in 1939, the company employed 1,500 people. His two sons Albert jr. and Ernst Boehringer as well as his son-in-law Julius Liebrecht took over the family company, having served on the company's Board of Directors since the 1920s.
Research and development continued during the Second World War, although the production of organic acids (tartaric acid, lactic acid, citric acid) was temporarily suspended. A number of new agents were introduced during and after the war.
Albert Boehringer purchases a small tartar factory in Ingelheim am Rhein. On 31 July, his company was included in the commercial register as “Albert Böhringer, chem. Fabrik vom 1. Aug. 1885 ab”.
Work begins in Nieder-Ingelheim on 1 August.
Albert Boehringer launches the production of tartaric acid for use in the food industry (e.g. in baking powder and fizzy lemonade).
Following the death of his older brother Ernst (1860 – 1892), Albert Boehringer renames the company, with effect from 1 January, C. H. Boehringer Sohn in honour of his father, Christoph Heinrich Boehringer.
During experiments for producing citric acid, unwanted fermentation results in the formation of lactic acid. Instead of aborting these experiments, Albert Boehringer develops the process with the aim of producing lactic acid on an industrial scale.
The first protected company logo is registered: the letters CHBS are intertwined in an oval with the circumscription C. H. Boehringer Sohn.
Lactic acid is manufactured on an industrial scale, proving highly successful on the market over the following years and making C. H. Boehringer Sohn (CHBS) one of the pioneers of biotechnological processes in industrial applications.
The company registers its first patent for a new process for manufacturing lactic-acid-based baking powder.
Albert Boehringer founds the company’s first health insurance scheme.
For the first time, the company logo displays a stylised motif of the imperial palace of Ingelheim.
In search of new paths in chemistry, C. H. Boehringer develops an economical process for extracting alkaloids such as morphine, cocaine and codeine. The substances are sold to pharmacies and the emerging pharmaceutical industry, or they are exported abroad.
A benefit fund is set up for retired employees.
The first homes for company employees are built close to Bahnhofstraße.
The “Christoph-und-Mathilde-Boehringer-Stiftung” is founded to provide support for disabled employees.
The company celebrates its first major milestone: the 25th anniversary of C. H. Boehringer Sohn (CHBS). CHBS now employs 156 people.
As of 1910, all employees benefited from 14 days' paid annual holiday entitlement – with an allowance for travel expenses – graduated according to years of service and at graduated intervals, a scheme that was unusual at the time. The company owner also insisted that this holiday be taken, and it was mandatory for employees to send a postcard from their holiday destinations.
One year after the company’s 25th anniversary, the company owner celebrates his 50th birthday and, shortly afterwards, receives the title “Großherzoglich Hessischer Kommerzienrat” in recognition of his services to the chemical industry.
Employees with more than 20 years' service are now entitled to a company pension.
The plant fire brigade is founded.
C. H. Boehringer Sohn launches its first drug, Laudanon®, an analgesic based on six opium alkaloids. Its widespread market launch takes place in 1915.
The “Albert-und-Helene-Boehringer-Stiftung” for the war bereaved is founded.
While Albert Boehringer is away at war until 1917, his nephew Robert Boehringer (1884 – 1974) takes over the running of CHBS.
The research department is founded on the initiative of the chemist and future Nobel Prize winner for chemistry Prof. Heinrich Wieland (1877 – 1957), a cousin of Albert Boehringer. This department is responsible for all research and development activities in the company’s acid, alkaloid and pharmaceutical sector and forms the cornerstone for Boehringer Ingelheim’s now extensive research activities.
The partnership between Prof. Heinrich Wieland and his brother, the pharmacologist Prof. Hermann Wieland, began way back at the start of the century.
Following the Wielands’ research activities, production of bile acid and its derivatives begins in 1917.
Meals are issued to employees for the first time.
The founder’s son, Albert jr. Boehringer (1891 – 1960), joins the company's Board of Directors.
The founder’s son-in-law, Julius Liebrecht (1891 – 1974), joins the company's Board of Directors.
The company launches the cardiovascular drug Cadechol®, a camphor product rendered water soluble with bile acid. It is the first product derived from Professor Wieland’s work.
Prof. Heinrich Wieland and his brother, Prof. Hermann Wieland, manage to isolate the pure alkaloid lobelin from the plant “Lobelia inflata”. This is marketed that same year as Lobelin®.
A new production plant for manufacturing alkaloids is established in Hamburg-Moorfleet. From 1925, the basic elements of drugs, including caffeine, morphine and codeine, are produced at this plant.
The bile product Bilaval® is launched.
A new company logo is launched.
The founder's son, Ernst Boehringer (1896-1965), joins the company's Board of Directors.
Prof. Heinrich Wieland is awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work investigating the composition of bile acids and related compounds.
The antitussive Codyl® is launched.
To increase his opium share at the German Opium Convention, councillor of commerce Albert Boehringer took over the company Dr. Karl Thomä, based in Winnenden near Stuttgart, for 370,000 gold marks.
The antitussive Acedicon® is launched.
1930 sees the founding of the baking and food department.
1931 sees the launch of Sympatol®, which is designed to improve circulation and is a derivative of adrenaline.
Work begins on the production of citric acid from citrate calcium for the foodstuffs, drinks and tobacco industry.
C.H. Boehringer Sohn celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Work begins on the large-scale synthesis of Lobelin® and construction of the company’s first research laboratory – the Heinrich-Wieland-Bau – begins in Ingelheim (the laboratory opens in 1938).
The company founder, Albert Boehringer, dies on 11 March aged 78, which means that responsibility for company management now passes to the second generation. His sons Albert and Ernst Boehringer and his son-in-law Julius Liebrecht take over the management of C. H. Boehringer Sohn.
The respiratory product Aludrin® is launched, breaking new ground in the treatment of asthma. This respiratory agent would later pave the way for betablockers.
A new plant is constructed in Ingelheim for the large-scale production of synthetic caffeine, and enters production on 15 November.
On 5 August, the German Reich authorities for Chemistry issue a requirement that C. H. Boehringer Sohn is to construct alternative plants for the manufacture of Sympatol®, Aludrin®, Adrianol®, Lobelin® and Papaverin®. It was decided to locate the plant in Biberach an der Riss, where Sympatol® and Lobelin® will soon be manufactured.
On 16 March, C. H. Boehringer Sohn closes its factory gates in Ingelheim. Four days later, the first American tanks reach Ingelheim and the occupation begins. On 28 May, work resumes at the Ingelheim plant.
Dr. Karl Thomae GmbH in Biberach an der Riss is re-established with a workforce of 70 people. This also marks the launch of the analgesic Thomapyrin®, which remains a big seller to this day.
CELA Landwirtschaftliche Chemikalien GmbH is founded, initially producing pesticides to protect against potato beetle plague.
Olivin, which sells cosmetic products, is founded.