In 2023, DEBATIN celebrates its centenary anniversary – which means we’ve now been supplying our customers and partners with groundbreaking products and innovative solutions for an impressive one hundred years. Over the years, our reputation for flexibility and innovative, sustainable and reliable solutions has spread far beyond the borders of our region. We’ve also made a name for ourselves as a family-friendly employer offering a healthy work/life balance. Throughout the industry, we’ve become recognised experts for all the processes connected with transportation and logistics.

To mark our centenary anniversary, a regional newspaper (the BNN, Badische Neueste Nachrichten) chatted to CEO Thomas Rose about milestone product developments and some of our most memorable orders.

DEBATIN: mastering challenges for 100 years with courage and resolve

“We’ve had good years and challenging years, but we’ve always been ready to strike out boldly in new directions,” says Thomas Rose. These traits – courage, and the resolve to strike out in new directions – are hallmarks of DEBATIN. They shaped DEBATIN back in 1923, and we continued to practise them throughout the recent pandemic. Without doubt, they’ll continue to help us develop the best possible solutions in the years to come. Courage and resolve infuse our approach to all areas of work, from product development through to sustainability and recycling through to our reputation as a modern, family-friendly employer.

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Kraichgau / Bruchsal
by Thomas Liebscher
25 February 2023

Bruchsal company celebrates its centenary anniversary

DEBATIN’s biggest contract: 35 million security bags for the launch of the euro

Document wallets for invoices on packages, security bags for cash, or bags for medical samples – they’re all made in Bruchsal. However, packaging specialist DEBATIN started out very differently.

DEBATIN’s film bags and mailing bags for transporting cash or medical samples are in high demand throughout Europe. CEO Thomas Rose introduces us to a few of the special products the company has produced over the past one hundred years. Photo: Martin Heintzen

When people order parcels, the accompanying invoice or packing list is often tucked into a plastic pouch on the outside of the box. These are bright red, indicating that the contents are important. “One in every two or three of these printed plastic wallets is made by DEBATIN,” Thomas Rose tells us. Rose is CEO of the Bruchsal-based company Anton Debatin GmbH.

Debatin also helps with detective work – by supplying police with the special forensic evidence bags they need at crime scenes. Which brings us back full circle to the early days, when the company sold paper bags made by prisoners.

ducument pouch

An eye-catching DEBATIN product: many of the document wallets we see on parcels are made in Bruchsal. Anton Debatin GmbH has been producing innovative new packaging solutions for a whole century. Photo: Martin Heintzen

Today, the company employs more than 200 people to meet the high demand for plastic bags and pouches.
CVIT bags and safe bags for hospital patients

Supermarkets use DEBATIN’s CVIT bags to transport their takings to the bank. The Bruchsal-based SME also supplies the medical industry with DEBAMED products. For example, bags to transport COVID-19 tests safely from the surgery to the lab.

In clinics and hospitals, patients use DEBATIN’s tamper-evident bags for storing their glasses, watches and keys. A blue stain on the seam indicates that the bag has been tampered with – for example, opened by a thief.

We produced no fewer than 35 million security bags to collect Deutsche Marks when the euro was introduced.

Thomas Rose, CEO of the Bruchsal-based company Anton Debatin.

The production halls in Vichystrasse extend over 8500 m² and are filled with a range of different machines that can produce thirty product types. “Lots of our processes have been digitalised, but the machines are still tooled by hand. Soon we’ll be introducing a second packing robot,” says Thomas Rose.

He has been working for the 100-year-old company for ten years.

Proud of the Bundesbank contract

Although he wasn’t working for the company at the time, Rose knows all the details about DEBATIN’s biggest and most spectacular contract. “We produced no fewer than 35 million security bags to collect Deutsche Marks when the euro was introduced,” he smiles. “It was a very proud and fortuitous moment for the company. We were in the right place at the right time for the Bundesbank contract.”

a packing robot

A packing robot: automated processes are now a familiar sight in DEBATIN’s production halls. Most of the machines, however, are still operated by hand by DEBATIN’s 230 employees.
Photo: Martin Heintzen

Thomas Rose is no stranger to challenges: he’s also a triathlete and has taken part in the Kraichgau Ironman. Describing DEBATIN’s challenges on the packaging market, he doesn’t beat around the bush: “We’ve had good years and challenging years, but we’ve always been ready to strike out boldly in new directions. The speed at which we deliver innovations has remained extremely high for the last twenty years.”

We’ve had good years and challenging years, but we’ve always been ready to strike out boldly in new directions.

Thomas Rose, CEO of Bruchsal-based Anton Debatin GmbH.

Over the last four years, DEBATIN has had to fight and adapt more than ever before. The first challenge resulted from quality issues with a product – the adhesive on one type of bag disintegrated over time. The next challenge was COVID-19, quickly followed by supply chain problems. Last year was marked by inflation and the repercussions of Russia’s attack on the Ukraine.

Films from recycled plastic

But isn’t the company worried that plastic packaging is on its way out because of plastic waste issues? That’s exactly why waste film is now re-granulated and recycled, and it’s also why DEBATIN founded the DERIBA Group and partnered with a corresponding recycling expert.

Rainbow colours flag

Rainbow colours at the factory gate on Vichystrasse: respect for diversity is part and parcel of DEBATIN’s corporate philosophy.
Photo: Martin Heintzen

Rainbow colours at the factory gate on Vichystrasse: respect for diversity is part and parcel of DEBATIN’s corporate philosophy. Photo: Martin Heintzen
Some of the employees who work at the headquarters in Bruchsal have commutes of up to 50 km. Many have been working for the company for decades. To promote the atmosphere of solidarity, DEBATIN attaches great importance to flat hierarchies and family-friendly structures. The aim is to get employees on board with all company processes. Rose commissioned a team of twenty employees to develop the company’s mission statement, or “Debavalues”.

The DEBATEAM: diversity in action

Practising a modern leadership style and standing shoulder to shoulder with the workforce isn’t always easy. Senior management has to be authentic. However, CEO Thomas Rose is convinced that personal responsibility and a passion for one’s work are the only way forward for an ambitious SME in Germany’s “premier league” of business – an SME that also juggles international sales accounting for 45 % of its turnover.

The DEBATEAM is planning a private celebration on 8 July to mark the company’s 100th anniversary. Their colleagues from France will join them in Bruchsal, where they’ll be greeted by the rainbow flag at the factory gate. This was hung up in 2022 and has been there ever since. It symbolises the diversity that prevails at DEBATIN, where thirty different nationalities are employed.

Anton Debatin GmbH Bruchsal

A company with a long tradition: In 1923, Anton Debatin set up business – trading with paper and printing bags – in a former stables in Prinz-Wilhelm-Strasse in Bruchsal. After registering as a limited liability company in 1953, DEBATIN soon turned its focus to producing plastic bags and pouches. For some time, the company’s business was dominated by disposable plastic bags. Following the demise of Anton Debatin in 1961, his widow Regina took over the management of the company, which was then based in Schnabel-Henning-Strasse. Regina died in 1980 and the family-owned company has now passed into the hands of the third generation, with Veronika Debatin as stockholder.

Business success with plastic films: In 1983, the company stopped producing paper products. By 1989, DEBATIN had advanced to market leader in Europe with its UNIPACK film bags and moved to new premises on Vichystrasse, close to the motorway. Today, some 205 people are employed at the Bruchsal site, plus a further twenty-five in Hoenheim near Strasbourg. DEBATIN’s annual turnover totals around € 60 million. The company is headed by business economist Thomas Rose (54).