Experience has future - History of the VULKAN Group

The VULKAN company has been owned solely by the Hackforth family since 1889. The VULKAN Group companies are committed to a common set of values from the tradition grown out of a medium-sized family business. Our customers requirements for punctual delivery, quality, product safety and eco-friendliness with reduced costs are and continue to be a constantly growing challenge. Our aim is to offer benefits to the user from development and production to the marketing of products and services. All members of the family provide maximum support to reach this goal, now and in the future. Although the 5th generation won't be able to contribute for some time yet.

The milestones of the VULKAN Group

  • 1889

    The foundation

    VULKAN’s history began following the foundation of Maschinenfabrik Louis Schwarz in Dortmund. The company initially functioned as a supplier of brewing equipment, tanks and low pressure compressors for the already well-established Dortmund breweries.

  • 1898

    The conversion

    The world’s first clutch, which was capable of being activated under load, was produced for use in lifting machinery, hoists and reversing gearboxes. It was manufactured by Louis Schwarz and it marked the beginning of VULKAN couplings.   

  • 1918

    The renaming

    The merger of Maschinenfabrik Louis Schwarz and the company Heinrich Behrend resulted in the establishment of Dortmunder VULKAN AG.

  • 1926

    Foundation of the Maschinenfabrik Hackforth & Co.

    Foundation of Maschinenfabrik HACKFORTH & Co. by the engineer Bernhard Hackforth Sr (1871 – 1954) in Herne. The company was primarily involved in repair work and small amounts of contract work for the local mining and foundry industries. 

  • 1930

    The spin-off

    The flourishing construction of couplings and transmission units for ships was separated from “Dortmunder VULKAN AG” and made autonomous under the name “VULKAN Kupplungs- und Getriebebau GmbH”. 

  • 1941

    The takeover

    Maschinenfabrik HACKFORTH & Co. took over the production from VULKAN Kupplungs- und Getriebebau GmbH. This resulted in the foundation stone for the co-operation between ”VULKAN” and “HACKFORTH” being laid.

  • 1945

    The reconstruction

    All commercial and technical installations of VULKAN (in Dortmund) and HACKFORTH (in Herne) were destroyed during a World War II air-raid. The reconstruction of Maschinenfabrik HACKFORTH & Co. in Wanne-Eickel commenced immediately after the war.

  • 1949

    The change

    Bernhard Hackforth Jr (1914 – 1990) assumed sole responsibility for the business from his father. As a result, Maschinenfabrik HACKFORTH & Co. passed to the second generation.

  • 1951

    The highly flexible VULKAN EZ-coupling

    VULKAN acquired the sole manufacturing and global marketing rights for a highly flexible coupling, aptly named the “Highly flexible VULKAN EZ Coupling”.

  • 1956

    The modification

    Bernhard Hackforth Jr acquired VULKAN AG. Consequently, the company was transformed into VULKAN Kupplungs- und Getriebebau B. Hackforth GmbH & Co. KG.

  • 1967

    The largest

    VULKAN was entrusted with the construction of the largest highly flexible couplings that had ever been built – the EZ 560 – with a nominal torque of 981 kNm.

  • 1971

    The foundation of VULKAN Corporation

    Foundation of the production subsidiary American VULKAN Corporation in Winter Haven, Florida.

  • 1976

    The foundation of VULKAN do Brasil

    Foundation of the production subsidiary VULKAN do Brasil Ltda. in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

  • 1977

    The third generation

    Bernd Hackforth (1949) joined the company as joint owner. This resulted in the third generation of the Hackforth family taking over a share of the responsibility.

  • 1978

    The foundation of the company VULKAN Lokring

    Foundation of VULKAN Lokring Rohrverbindungen GmbH & Co. KG, the headquarters of which were and remain located in Herne. The company is engaged in the development, production and marketing of solder free tube connections for air conditioning and refrigeration.

  • 1982


    Foundation of VULKAN HAREX Stahlfasertechnik GmbH & Co. KG, the headquarters were located in Herne. HAREX milled steel fibres were used as a substitute for the standard steel reinforcement in concrete buildings. VULKAN Kupplungs- und Getriebebau developed a coupling with an extremely high torsional flexibility, which bore the name RATO. Following this, the manufacturing of the patent-registered RATO S coupling began.

  • 1997

    The foundation of the manufacturing location WUXI VULKAN

    Foundation of the production subsidiary WUXI VULKAN Technologies Co., Ltd. in Wuxi, China.

  • 2001

    The foundation of the manufacturing location VULKAN Technologies

    Foundation of the production subsidiary VULKAN Technologies Pvt. Ltd. in Pune, India.

  • 2005

    Own vulcanization

    VULKAN Kupplungs- und Getriebebau established an in-house vulcanisation ensuring the control, knowhow and reproducible quality of a core process.

    The merger of VULKAN Harex Stahlfasertechnik GmbH & Co. KG and Krampe Strahltechnik GmbH & Co. KG resulted in the establishment of the joint venture KrampeHarex GmbH & Co. KG; the headquarters were located in Hamm.

  • 2011

    Opening of the 20th VULKAN subsidiary

    After working with the management of VULKAN Lokring for four years, Sebastian Hackforth (1978), the son of the sole proprietor Bernd Hackforth, was appointed President of the Hackforth Holding GmbH & Co. KG. This meant that the fourth generation had now taken co-responsibility for the VULKAN Group.

    VULKAN Group celebrated the opening of the 20th VULKAN subsidiary located in Istanbul, Turkey. 

  • 2013

    Inauguration of the Hackforth Academy

    Inauguration of the Hackforth Academy in the former residence of Bernhard Hackforth. 

  • 2014

    A new office building is built in Herne

    As a fitting tribute to the 125th anniversary of the company a new office building is built at the headquarters in Herne. 

  • 2015

    Opening of the new headquarters' office building and celebration of the 125th anniversary of the VULKAN Group

    The VULKAN company has been owned solely by the Hackforth family since 1889. On occasion of the 125th anniversary of the company the new headquarters in Herne was inaugurated in September 2015.

  • 2020

    Hybrid Architect

    VULKAN has entered the market for hybrid and electric drives, offering customized and more efficient solutions as a Hybrid Architect. 

  • 2022


    Together with the technology company NEMOS, VULKAN presents a world first: the flexible drive shaft N-Flex®.  

    With the patented technology, the required installation space and the mass of the drive train can be significantly reduced.