Our History

Our History

tesa’s success story begins with the unsuccessful development of an adhesive bandage. Paul C. Beiersdorf, a pharmacist, was at work on the bandage when Dr. Oscar Troplowitz took over the lab from the company’s founder in 1890. The bandage adhered excellently, but was irritating to the skin. Troplowitz made a virtue of necessity and, in 1896, launched the first technical adhesive tape.

Today tesa is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of self-adhesive product and system solutions for industry, professional craftsmen and consumers. Follow us into the exciting history of tesa and tape technology.


Secretary Elsa Tesmer invented the brand name tesa®

The Name “tesa” Is Born
The name tesa® traces back to the secretary Elsa Tesmer, who worked at Beiersdorf in Hamburg from April 1903 through to the end of October 1908, first as an office clerk and then as the office manager. She thought up the term from the first two letters of her last name and the last two letters of her first name.


tesa® toothpaste tube

tesa as a Brand Name of a Tube for Toothpaste
In the beginning, the brand name tesa® adorns several products. For example the patented tube used for Pebeco toothpaste. Unfortunately the tube business fares poorly.


tesa Klebefilm packaging

Birth of tesa Adhesive Tape – Hamburg

Transparent rubber tape enters the market on February 17, 1936 as the latest product to be given the catchy name tesa. 25-year-old Hugo Kirchberg applies to Beiersdorf for a job and decides to make his new employer’s then-insignificant rubber adhesive film a resounding success. The “K Klebefilm” (K adhesive tape) is manufactured in two lengths and six widths right from the start in the versions “colourless-crystal-clear”, “yellow transparent”, “yellow covered,” and “black covered”. Other colours follow later.

At a time in which industrial production of food and its shelf life plays an increasingly important role, the K adhesive tape is praised for sealing jam jars, tin cans for bread and biscuits, as well as cardboard packaging for dried fruit. When this predecessor of the subsequent tesafilm® comes to the market in 1936, Kirchberg shows his keen sense for the requirements of potential customers. In the same year, he develops a dispenser that can be found in a modified form on almost every desk to this day. The principle behind the “receptacle for dry-glue-coated adhesive strip rolls”, registered under patent number 661115, is held by tesa up to the 21st century. A product is only really good if it can be used easily and has recognisable benefits.

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tesa® logo 1941

tesa Becomes an Umbrella Brand
Only five years later, besides the tesa adhesive tape, Kirchberg advertises another product. With the launch of the painters’ tape tesakrepp®, tesa evolves into an umbrella brand for all the group’s self-adhesive products. The tesafilm® name is created as an abbreviation of “tesa-Klebefilm” (tesa adhesive tape). Today, both the tesa masking tape tesakrepp® and tesafilm® are classics of the product range.


tesamoll® advertisement

tesamoll® Development
The temperatures almost reach zero. An icy wind blows through the streets. How nice it is when it’s cosy at home. But that is rarely the case at the beginning of the fifties. Buildings are damaged from the war, and high-quality building materials are in short supply. This gives the engineers at tesa an ingenious idea. There would have to be a product that protects windows and doors against drafts without requiring a great deal of skilled craftsmanship – and is also inexpensive. The product developers invent a self-adhesive profile seal made of plastic foam in 1954. One year later, the strips appear on the market under the name tesamoll®. Here, “moll” indicates an elastic material (mollis: lat. soft) and creates an association with the German word “mollig”, which means “cosy warm.” The product is still very popular internationally to this day. In warm countries, tesamoll® protects living space against heat, sand and insects.


Sales display, 1968

Ahead of the Times: Displays for Speciality Retailers
tesa develops special displays to clearly and professionally present its products to DIY enthusiasts in speciality shops.


Kati: A self-confident girl gives her “dad” DIY tips in German TV commercials.

“Kati” Conquers the World of tesa
tesa positions itself in the construction and do-it-yourself markets with a number of unusual TV spots in Germany, which cause a stir not only on the advertising scene. The cheeky and happy Kati flickers on the tube reliably for three years on Saturdays at the best broadcast time just before the main news. The little girl explains to her daddy how adhesive tapes from tesa make life in the home and garden easier. It is a change of roles that would have been unthinkable in the 1950s – even in tesa advertising. DIY was a man’s world, and hobbies and handicrafts were for the women. However, after the movement in 1968 with the beginning of women’s emancipation, tesa strikes social gold with the Kati advertising. “Kati and Daddy” are also used in different media. Since television still plays a subordinate role, the popular duo also appeasrs in print advertisements.


Hugo Kirchberg, 1973

Mr. tesa Retires
After 39 years of service to the company, Hugo Kirchberg, head of the tesa department, retires. The tesa portfolio now consists of about 600 different products.


tesa becomes a division

tesa as a Division
Beiersdorf introduces its four divisions Cosmed, Pharma, Medical and tesa as a prelude to the further expansion of its adhesive tape business.


Warehouse in Offenburg

Automated Warehouse Technology
In Offenburg, tesa celebrates the initial opening of a high-rack warehouse – offering state-of-the-art automated warehouse technology with a separate picking area and nearly 8000 pallet spaces to start out (later 10,300). tesa now offers a total of 2500 product solutions.


Drying channel at the tesa plant Hamburg

1200 Metres of Adhesive Tape Strips
The tesa plant in the Hausbruch district of Hamburg puts a complex coating unit with suspended drying for 1200 metres of adhesive tape strips into operation. Recovery and recycling of the solvents used in the unit enable highly efficient cleaning of exhaust air.


tesa plant Sparta, Michigan, USA

First Non-European tesa Plant – Sparta, Michigan
The first major tesa plant outside Europe opens its doors in Sparta, Michigan, United States. Today, some 60 employees produce adhesive tapes for the general industrial market, particularly for the regional automotive industry.


Tape production in Offenburg

25th Anniversary
In the year of its 25th anniversary, the tesa plant in Offenburg begins running a new large-scale unit. The total usable space at the site is expanded from 4000 to 65,000 square metres.


Protect your windows with fly screens

tesa® Insect Stop – a Top Seller
Consumers can keep annoying insects from paying a visit: tesa® Insect Stop makes its debut and goes on to become a top seller.


tesa logo development 1936 to today

New tesa Logo Is Introduced
The tesa brand name has been a key component of the logo since the very beginning. The uniform design that has been used around the world since 1990 symbolises the very essence of the tesa brand: the sticking together of two parts.


tesa Powerstrips® 1996: TV commercial 1996

tesa Powerstrips®
Nails and screws suddenly have to compete with the newly patented tesa Powerstrips®.ISO 9001 Quality Standard
The tesa division meets all of the requirements for the ISO 9001 quality standard, setting a new benchmark in the adhesive tape business.


The PrioSpot technology protects brands from counterfeiters

tesafilm® as a Data Storage Medium
Two scientists from Mannheim, Germany, discover that you can store data on tesafilm®. Today the technology protects brand-name items from counterfeiting and secures original products against theft on their way along the supply chain. The scientists and tesa jointly establish tesa Scribos GmbH.


tesa Easy Splice assortment

tesa Revolutionises the Printing and Paper Industry
tesa becomes a global market leader in this segment with the launch of EasySplice®. This technology enables secure, ultra-fast splicing when changing rolls.


tesa AG is founded

From Company Division to Independence
The Beiersdorf Group’s original tesa division becomes tesa AG.


Solvent-free production unit in Offenburg

New Solvent-Free Production Technology
The Offenburg plant begins working with a new solvent-free production technology developed at tesa. All painters’ masking tapes are the first items to be switched over to the environmentally friendly new method, later followed by other products.


tesa plant Suzhou

New Plant Built in China in Record Time – Suzhou, Jiangsu
On December 8, tesa opens a plant with a research department in Suzhou, China, so it can be closer to its global customers.

BAUM: Bundesdeutscher Arbeitskreis Umweltbewusstes Management e.V.

Environmental Award for tesa

The Association of the German Chemical Industry (VCI) gives tesa its Responsible Care Award. tesa is also granted an environmental award by the German Environmental Management Association (B.A.U.M.).

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tesa supports the UN Global Compact

tesa Joins the Global Compact of the United Nations
The Global Compact is a worldwide pact between companies and the UN to make globalisation more socially and environmentally sound.


Labtec is now a tesa subsidiary

tesa Gains a Subsidiary
Labtec Gesellschaft für technologische Forschung und Entwicklung mbH becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of tesa. The company develops special administration forms for pharmaceutical active substances as an alternative to pills and specialises in transdermal therapeutic systems (TTS) among others.


tesa becomes SE

From AG to SE: tesa Becomes a European Corporation
As a Societas Europaea (SE), on March 30 tesa adopts the modern cross-border legal structure for corporations in the European Union.


Clean room in Hamburg

Unique Production Plant – Hamburg
An ultra-modern cleanroom and the world’s only ACX production plant for new double-sided adhesive tapes open their doors in Hamburg.


In 2011 tesa celebrated its 75th birthday

tesa Celebrates a Double Anniversary
75 years of tesafilm® and ten years of independence as a Beiersdorf company


tesa® ACXplus

Launch of tesa® ACXplus
tesa® ACXplus is a new category of tapes for constructive bonding. The strongest and best performing product range so far has a powerful bond on materials with different surface characteristics, offers optimal stress dissipation due to its viscoelastic behaviour, and is resistant to temperatures and demanding weather conditions.


Technical illustration of the new tesa Campus

Ground Broken for the New tesa SE Building
The new headquarters of tesa SE is built close to Hamburg Airport. The marketing, administration and research and development departments as well as the technology centre are all brought together for the first time. The complex is precisely tailored to tesa’s business model and will enable tesa to further concentrate its strengths and bolster the tesa Group’s international competitiveness.


tesa SE Headquarters

tesa Campus Inaugurated
On January 28, Torsten Albig (Premier of Schleswig-Holstein), Hans-Joachim Grote (Mayor of Norderstedt), and Thomas Schlegel (tesa CEO) inaugurate the tesa Campus in front of about 1000 employees and numerous guests of honour. In a symbolic act the trio complete a huge puzzle showing the building and its three components: headquarters, research and technology centre. “Three in one” is the concept of the new tesa headquarters, which is finished after little more than three years of construction. Costing some EUR 160 million, it is the largest investment in the history of tesa.