With a lot of dedication, hard work and a strong sense of family, DOLLE has made it from a pure dealer to a successful stair producer. For almost 70 years, DOLLE has been successful and family-owned.
The history of the DOLLE begins in Sauerland. Company founder Carl Dolle spent his childhood in Eversberg with his father Franz and his brother Robert. A flour mill and a sawmill provided for the livelihood of the family and everyone took part in the business. Carl Dolle experienced from an early age what duty and perseverance means.
With the same industriousness, Carl Dolle worked in the bank after school until the Second World War began in 1939. Carl Dolle was recruited as a soldier and he spent 1945 in French captivity. The sawmill in Eversberg had been spared of any war damage, so that the family business "Gebrüder Dolle" was now in the economic boom post-war period. Wood was in extreme demand and the business was now focused on painter's ladders and loft laddders and grew to the point where the family decided to open a distribution centre in Bremen.
Carl Dolle, returning from his captivity and now working as roofer, made his way back in late 1950 to Bremen. He planned to visit several days, but he stayed.
Carl Dolle knew no people in Bremen and nobody knew him. When his father and uncle asked him to run the business in Bremen for a limited period, he bravely made a bold request "If I do it, then not only as a substitute, but forever." His father and uncle agreed and the business grew beyond their expectations.
Carl Dolle rolled up his sleeves and began to push his business forward being involved in all areas of the business. Promoting the sales, taking care of customers, delivery of orders and even drove fortnightly to Sauerland to deliver materials for Bremen operations. His evening were then taken up running the administrative side to the business. This great effort was rewarded, the Gebr. Dolle GmbH company continued to grow beyond all expectations. As a result, Carl Dolle leased a new office in Bremen-Oberneuland on the site where the headquarters of the DOLLE company are still located to this day. He also hired his first employee, Fiddi Boschen. Both the same age, they established a strong partnership in the years to come leading complex projects to success. Carl Dolle was never deterred by critical voices, but persistently pursued all his goals.
In 1958 the business expanded to cover 80 kilometers beyond Bremen's borders, and an salesman was hired. A now settled Carl had many friends in Oberneuland. Finally, in 1959 he married Ursula Knesek and laid the foundation for turning his independence into a family business.
If Carl Dolle was convinced of something, he pursued it purposefully and was always convinced of one thing: "The safety of the family" is the most important thing. It must remain unchallenged. With his marriage in 1959 and the birth of his two sons Matthias (1960) and Stefan (1963), the entrepreneur rearranged his business which he felt had become stagnant. For Carl Dolle this was a highly unsatisfactory situation. His vision was to design, turn new challenges into successes and further develop the company in a marketable way.
It was important to develop the business in the most effective way and at the same time work on a turnaround back on the road to success. In 1970, Carl Dolle separated from his partner but also entered a world of new product development. It was the start of the business unit DOLLE Kunststoffe. Ursula Dolle was planning her return to work and her husband suggested that she ran the plastics business.
The team worked well and the patience of the 1960s paid off, the company experienced a new heyday. As was his nature, Carl Dolle considered after each successfully financial year what he could improve or supplement. During family holidays in South Tyrol he began to keep an eye on neighboring Switzerland. In 1980 he opened a new location.
When the Dolle family think back to 1982, everyone agrees it was an important year. Two developments threatened to dampen the success of the staircase wholesaler at the beginning of the 1980s. DIY stores conquered the favor of the end users, while building materials distributors joined forces to form purchasing groups which ordered their goods directly from the manufacturer. Similar difficulties arose across the Danish border with products very similar to those of DOLLE acquired new customers in northern Germany - with success. Because the competitor benefited from general conditions that offered significant advantages, lower production costs, lower taxes and easier access wood from Sweden. The result was lower production costs and more attractive prices for buyers. Both situations got Carl Dolle moving. As always, his nature, he did not wait, but took the initiative. He negotiated a deal with his Danish competitor and DOLLE took over the production of the stairs for the German market out of the Danish manufacturing plant, in return, the sales region Germany was taboo for the competitor. When the Danish partner unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy about a year later, Carl Dolle decided to fully enter the production business with his company DOLLE A/S founded in Frøstrup, Denmark in 1982. Carl Dolle made the decision to change the direction for the future of the business. Thanks to a will of iron, the determination and the great commitment of all parties involved, the former wholesaler DOLLE became a producer and the company got a new boost. Carl Dolle had not only solved the competitive situation emanating from Denmark, but also reorganised the relationship with the numerous DIY stores. Competitors became customers! The fact that companies such as OBI, Max Bahr or Hellweg, as well as purchasing cooperatives were acquired as large customers and due to the committed sales activities between 1983 and 1987 the company had high growth.
Reunification was a true blessing for the West German economy with a spirit of optimism, wherever you looked! Especially for the construction industry, there was a lot to do, the houses in the former GDR were not up to the western standard so DIY stores settled in East Germany.
The high demand for new customers also reached Bremen, but the DIY stores had to ensure sufficient inventory. And so DOLLE produced considerably more stairs than usual in Denmark at the beginning of the 1990s, and the sales department in Bremen not only looked after the supply of existing customers, but also set about being on-site and winning new business.
In 1988 DOLLE introduced the first take-home spiral staircases based on the unit construction principle.
It was Matthias Dolle, the oldest son of the company founder who built and expanded the business in the former GDR in the early years. On January 1, 1989, he joined his father's company. While the junior in the early 1990s expanded the trade in the DOLLE loft ladders, Carl and Ursula Dolle dealt with another idea that arose from reunification. Would it be possible to transfer the successful plastics location in Bremen to East Germany. The answer is yes and in 1993 the construction of a large site in Bad Köstritz began.
With the opening in April 1994, the fourth family member joined the company. Stefan Dolle, the younger brother of Matthias Dolle who became managing director of the East German plastics company. Two years later, he handed over his task to a successor. DOLLE then added a third division, DOLLE Shelving to date, the company, based in Hesse and successful in the global market, Stefan operates as the CEO.
The demand for DOLLE staircases remains high around the turn of the millennium, but the willingness to pay for the quality products declines alarmingly. Reason for this was the EU enlargement which enabled German wholesalers to easily bring cheap goods from Eastern Europe to Germany, the pressure on German manufacturers grew accordingly. At the same time, it was boosted by massive demand from DIY stores for low asking prices.
The spiral staircase assortment was extended in 1997 with a new production of wooden modular staircases.
DOLLE realised that production in Denmark needed to be cheaper to continue working economically. In 2000, Francois Grimal traveled to DOLLE Denmark with a trade delegation from the Chamber of Commerce China to find out if metal fittings production could be relocated. And in fact, he finds a suitable company with whom DOLLE works in partnership from 2002. In 2005, DOLLE opened its own production facility, DOLLE Industrial Limited which is based 100 kilometers from Shanghai.
EU enlargement also opened Western European producers to new sales territories. For this reason, DOLLE founded a trading company in Poland in 2005. While the growth around the staircase trade went on internationally, DOLLE Kunststoff increased within Germany. In 2003, the division acquired a plastics wholesaler in Lehrte near Hanover, which specialises in engineering plastics.
DOLLE has also developed an influential, international profile on handrail banister system for indoor and outdoor use. Especially the factory Dolle Suzhou Industrial Company play a essential part in this as base to facilitate the development and production of complex metal components used in the manufacturing of metal stairs and banisters.
Dolle Suzhou is wholly owned subsidiary of Dolle Holding A/S part of the Dolle Group of companies.
In 2008, another production facility for the wood processing and production of product components in Ukraine was added.
In 2012, international business was expanded to the USA with a new sales location.
In the beginning of 2014, the sales company DOLLE Nordic opened covering sales in all the Scandinavian countries.
In autumn 2017, DOLLE opened another new sales location in the UK.
And recently during spring 2019, to increase our turnover and to reinforce our sales- and procurement synergies and logistic set-up in Europe, DOLLE has acquired the well-established SOGEM group. SOGEM group has production in Romania and the sales department is based in Belgium covering sales in the Benelux countries and in France.
Today, DOLLE is the market leader of loft ladders and staircases in Europe, and we even export to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, the USA and Russia. We are established in more than 40 countries worldwide; loft ladders remain our flagship product. We also produce modular, spiral and space saving staircases as well as a very versatile high-quality range of banisters under the PROVA brand.
More than 430 dedicated employees take part in the manufacturing of our products at our four factories in Denmark, China, Romania and the Ukraine.
The Chinese factory based in Suzhou is responsible of producing metal components and is the main center of our PROVA handrail and banister-system production.
Based in Velykyi Betenznyi, our Ukrainian production operates our full timber supply chain including forestry, sawmilling and manufacturing of FSC® certified solid wood components that is dispatched to our Danish factory producing loft ladders and space saving staircases.
Our production in Molid in Romania manufactures stairs in kit, wooden stairs and custom-made stairs.
Each factory is specialized in a specific task throughout the production process and operates in partnership with a strong network of sourcing partners.
For more than 60 years DOLLE has been "the safe way up!" This success is not only thanks to the vision and creativity of Carl Dolle, but also to the commitment of all employees at the DOLLE Group. Not forgetting the loyalty of all the customers who in partnership have accompanied DOLLE on our journey.
We are ready to meet your design needs and provide you with inspiration and the room for a simpler more comfortable life.