Foundation and development
From the multi-purpose oil to the brand BALLISTOL
In 1874, in Cologne, Friedrich Wilhelm Klever, a lawyer with entrepreneurial talents, founded Chemische Fabrik F.W. Klever. He started with the production of coal-based oils and fats, and soon acquired a mine in order to be independent from raw-material suppliers.
The company made a breakthrough at the turn of the century, when the German Imperial Army needed an all-round oil with very special properties: a multi-purpose oil that would be suitable for all the materials of a weapon – for cleaning, care, and conservation of the metal parts, wooden stocks, and leather straps. At the same time, it was to be used by soldiers as a wound oil for smaller injuries, chaps, and abrasions.
Such a multi-purpose oil was successfully developed in1904. The son of the company founder, Dr. Helmut Klever, who was at that time a chemistry lecturer at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, developed the special oil with all of the desired properties. The new multi-purpose oil was named “Ballistol”, from the word “ballistic” and the Latin “oleum”, meaning “oil”. From 1905, the Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil was used in the German Army and became increasingly well known as a “miracle oil” in the years afterwards, thanks to its surprising versatility.
In the following years, millions of consumers experimented with Ballistol Multi-Purpose Oil and found more and more surprising new applications. After the Second World War, which only the branch factory in Leverkusen survived, the sites in Cologne and Krefeld were relinquished. In 1971, the young chemist Dr. Heinrich Zettler joined the company and from then on ran it as the managing director.
Dr. Heinrich Zettler recognised the potential of the BALLISTOL brand, and took over the company after the death of Jenny Klever in 1989, together with his wife Herta. They gradually developed it into a commercially healthy and globally operating brand manufacturer.
In 2006, Dr. Heinrich Zettler passed the company onto his sons Dr. Christian Zettler and Andreas Zettler, who now manage BALLISTOL GmbH.