Our story goes back to 1921, when 21-year-old Egon Oldendorff became a partner in a small Hamburg shipping business, renamed Lillienfeld & Oldendorff. The business endured the hardships of two world wars, but in the 1950s a freight boom saw the fleet rebuilt quickly. From a local focus in the Baltic timber trade, Oldendorff quickly grew to become Germany’s largest drybulk shipowner.
In 1980, his son Henning took over at the age of 23. Peter Twiss was appointed President & CEO in 2003, when Henning assumed the position of Chairman. The firm returned to its roots by opening a commercial office in Hamburg in 2014, while headquarters remain in Lübeck.
Our story began on 19th February 1921 in Hamburg, when young Egon Oldendorff became a partner in the small shipping company that he had joined as a trainee nine months earlier. At 21, he had just come of age. The company was renamed Lilienfeld & Oldendorff and at the end of the same year, Egon Oldendorff took control of the remaining shares. He was born on 17th February 1900 in a North Sea village, where his father ran a small bank.
HEADQUARTERS MOVED TO LÜBECK
Lübeck was a major port in northern Germany located on the river Trave. It was the leading city of the Hanseatic League.
WW2 REDUCES FLEET
At the outbreak of World War Two, the company was operating 13 steamers in European waters. Most of the ships were either requisitioned, seized, sunk or scuttled.
FIRST POST-WAR NEWBUILDING LAUNCHED
After the Allies lifted restrictions on what size of ships German owners were permitted to buy or build, the fleet was built up quickly. Post-war reconstruction and the 1950–1953 Korean War created a freight-rate boom.
COMPANY BUILDS FIRST BULK CARRIER
Oldendorff builds its first bulk carrier; 15,400 tdw Magdalana Oldendorff at Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft.
FLEET GROWS TO 33 UNITS
By the Company’s 50th anniversary it had already been through a Depression and World War II. The Company grew rapidly to become Germany’s largest bulk shipowner.
TWO 230,000 TDW VLCCS ORDERED AT HDW
Expansion into the tanker business was an experiment, the Company soon decided to re-focus on dry cargo.
HENNING OLDENDORFF BECOMES CEO AGED 23
Henning Oldendorff joined the company as CEO in 1980 at the age of 23 – his father had turned 80 a few months earlier.
FOUNDER EGON OLDENDORFF DIES AGED 84
Henning Oldendorff becomes the majority shareholder at age 26.
FIRST ASIAN OFFICE ESTABLISHED IN HONG KONG
Henning’s vision was to push for "bottom-up management" by delegating most decision-making to those employees who work closest with the cargo clients and suppliers. After opening the first base in Asia in 1989, he started up a separate cargo/parcel operator by the name of Concept Carriers in 1995.
TAKEOVER OF GERMAN YARD FLENSBURGER SCHIFFBAU-GESELLSCHAFT
FSG was a modern shipyard specializing in container vessels, ferries, offshore and naval vessels. The yard was sold in 2008.
TWO 77,000 TDW UNLOADERS ACQUIRED
These two self-unloading vessels were built in Korea to service the aggregates trade from Scotland to the Thames river. The aggregates were used to construct the concrete sections for the Channel Tunnel.
FLEET GROWS TO 80 SHIPS
As worldwide trade expanded, the Oldendorff dry bulk fleet grew primarily in the Handy and Panamax sizes.
EGON OLDENDORFF AND CONCEPT CARRIERS MERGE TO BECOME OLDENDORFF CARRIERS
This was a unique situation where a traditional German shipowner merged with an operator.
PETER TWISS APPOINTED CEO & PRESIDENT
Coming from an operator background, he brought the concept of freight trading to the Company.