• Our History

1882 - 2007

125th anniversary

2007 saw the 125th anniversary of the founding of our business project in the late 19th century. That project is the result of dreams and ambitions, successes and failures and four generations of accumulated efforts and sacrifices.

Looking back, it is clear that a great many people have devoted their best efforts and talents and given their all for the successful development of this project that we call Erhardt.


Guten morgen Bilbao

The founder of the company, Eugen Erhardt Kausler, arrived in Bilbao in 1882 and from then on his life, his family and his work were inextricably linked to the city. He started out as an agent for the German steel firm Krupp, with responsibility for supervising purchases of iron ore and shipping it to Essen. He also managed the ships that carried the iron ore north and sailed back to Bilbao laden with processed steel products.

Those were years of growth and prosperity in Bilbao, which saw major development in mining, industry and port activity.

1882 - 1919

First generation

The story starts in the second half of the 19th century, more specifically in 1882, when brothers Eugen and Karl Erhardt created Erhardt&Co GmbH in Stuttgart. The company set up premises in Bilbao, Santander, Cologne and Rotterdam with an initial stock capital of 100,000 pesetas. Eugen settled in Bilbao, where his four children were later born. In the early years of the 20th century the port of Bilbao was one of the busiest in Europe, and Erhardt went into the shipping business on the regular lines sailing to northern Europe and South America.

World War I (1914-1918) greatly curtailed the development of the company.



The company started out with a single customer: the German steel firm Fried Krupp GmbH, one of the biggest companies of its day. Krupp procured raw materials in Spain, and in 1873 set up its own shipping company in Rotterdam to assure supplies of mainly Spanish iron ore. Thanks to these close links with Krupp, Erhardt set up premises in Cologne and Rotterdam to act as a shipping agent and supervise the vessels that brought iron ore to northern Europe and sailed back to Bilbao laden with processed steel products such as railway tracks, piping, etc. Many of these products were made at the Krupp steel mills, and Erhardt marketed and sold them in representation of Krupp.


Heading for Havana

In the late 19th century there was major industrial development in Bilbao, which led to a boom in the economic life of Bizkaia. From 1900 onwards more shipping companies appeared that plied regular trade routes sailing out of the port of Bilbao. Erhardt became the agent in the port of Bilbao for some of these companies, including Norddeutscher Lloyd, Deutsche Dampfschiffahrts Gesellschaft Hansa Linie, Hamburg-Amerika Linie and Oldenburg-Portugiesische Dampfschiffs-Rhederei.

1919 - 1951

The second generation

By 1919 the founder's sons Eugenio and Otto were working in the family business. The eldest son remained in Bilbao, where he took over control of the company and had three children named Mercedes, Eugenio and Alberto. Meanwhile Otto took over the family business in the Netherlands: Erhardt&Dekkers. From 1920 to 1945 trade in Bilbao went into a downturn. The worldwide economic crash reached Spain in the 1930s and the economy was hit by an industrial agricultural and monetary crisis. During that period the company extended its activities into the chartering business and also began to act as agents for insurance companies, while also maintaining its role as an agent for Krupp and other firms such as Franz Haniel, etc.


E. Erhardt y Cía., S.A.

In 1921 the company changed its form to become a private limited liability company under Spanish law, so as to continue the business started by Erhardt & Co GmbH. The deed of incorporation of E. Erhardt y Cía. Ltda. was signed before Celestino María del Arenal, a notary public of Bilbao. Its corporate headquarters were in Bilbao, with branch offices in Santander and Barcelona. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and World War II (1939-1945) forced the company to place its operations on hold in the context of an economic recession that lasted until 1947.

1951 - 1989

The third generation

Brothers Eugenio and Alberto Erhardt joined the business in September 1946. Following the death of their father Eugenio Erhardt Lingenbrink in 1951, the third generation took up the reins of the business and Eugenio Erhardt Hormaeche was appointed as its managing director. In the years that followed Eugenio and his brother Alberto led the expansion of the company. Subsidiary companies were incorporated all over Spain, including shipping companies Tráficos Navieros and Naviera Eco, the stevedoring firm Carmesa, the Ercos insurance company, the industrial firms Mecánica de La Peña, Itasa, Erpo, Mecaner, Tamese, Talleres Moreda, Talleres Serantes and others, the engineering firms Sener, Remasa, Indesa and the construction firm Inducosa, among others.


Engineering and industry

Erhardt developed up a strong industrial business area with stockholdings in engineering firms, workshops and factories. This area was headed by Alberto Erhardt, and in 1971 the two brothers reached an agreement under which Alberto became the sole shareholder in the Industrial Area firms. The flagship firm in this area was Mecánica la Peña, which designed and built capital goods and turnkey industrial plants. The third generation of Erhardts and the Sendagorta brothers joined forces to set up the engineering firm SENER, which is now a worldwide benchmark firm for technology. Other companies set up included ERPO, Talleres Moreda, Talleres Serantes, TAMESE, MECANER, EINSA, INDESA, SACES and SINOR.


A passion for the sea

Erhardt's track record as a shipping company features companies such as Naviera Eco, Tráficos Navieros and Off-Shore España. Naviera Eco was founded to construct and subsequently operate five vessels for regular lines and tramp trading. Tráficos Navieros (TRAFINASA) had three sister ships that were used for regular trading lines and subsequently for tramp trading. Off-Shore España was founded in the 1970s to handle anchors for offshore oil rigs and provide oil-rig supply and towing services. It worked off the coasts of Spain, Italy, France and Ireland and in the North Sea.


The ERCOS insurance company was founded in this year.

From the outset Erhardt acted as an agent for insurance companies, offering cover for risks arising from trading. ERCOS, S.A. de Seguros y Reaseguros was set up in 1964 specifically for this purpose. By 1981 the company had 30 offices throughout Spain. In the mid-80s it was floated on the stock exchange, with trading in its shares beginning in Madrid in 1987. The insurance sector was undergoing far-reaching changes at that time, and there was freedom of establishment for foreign insurers. In that context Erhardt requested the cessation of stock trading and negotiated the sale of the company to Allianz. In December 1988 and early 1989 Allianz, Europe's leading insurance company, bought out the stock of Ercos.

1989 - Today

The fourth generation

In 1989 Eugenio Erhardt Hormaeche passed on the chairmanship of the company to his eldest son Eugenio Erhardt Oraá. This brought the fourth generation of the family into the management of Erhardt. 1991 saw the company move into IT with the founding of Serikat. In the wake of Spain's entry into the EEC in 1986, Erhardt was reorganised into three divisions: Transport & Logistics, IT and Foreign Trade. The company is currently run by the brothers Eugenio and Rafael Erhardt.


Technology: the new frontier

There had been a strong information systems department (then called "Mechanisation") at Erhardt since the 1970s. In the late 70s the company's analysis and programmers were providing services for the banking sector and for the recently established Basque government. This was the precursor of the area set up in 1991 with the founding of Serikat as Erhardt's flagship company in the field of ICTs, with a workforce of 400. More projects were to follow, including openAula. This youngest of Erhardt's divisions now boasts 30 years of experience, talent, hard work and technology.


Ertransit: 21st century logistics

Erhardt Transitarios (ERTRANSIT) was founded at the turn of the 21st century to reinforce the company's position in the logistics sector. Although it was only incorporated in its present form in 2005 the company is the result of over 60 years of logistics operations conducted under other leading names, especially in groupage operations between the Spanish mainland and the Canary and Balearic islands.
With the founding of ERTRANSIT logistics platforms were set up in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, the Canaries and the Balearic Islands. The new company has set itself new challenges in international markets and seeks to provide custoemrs with innovative, integrated logistics services.


Innovative ports

With the advent of the 21st century Erhardt has reinforced its presence in ports such as La Coruña, Ferror, Bermeo and Cartagena, has begun a process of industrialisation and has moved to recruit talent and make major investments in improving its processes and technological development in terms of efficiency and environmentally-friendly goods handling.
The company developed the first environmentally-friendly bulk product hopper, which features one of the most sophisticated pollution prevention systems in the sector, with closed bulk conveyor circuits. The first geodesic dome for coal storage was also developed. These processes and technologies have since been adopted as standard by the port industry in Spain.


125th anniversary

2007 saw the 125th anniversary of the founding of our business project in the late 19th century. That project is the result of dreams and ambitions, successes and failures and four generations of accumulated efforts and sacrifices.
Looking back, it is clear that a great many people have devoted their best efforts and talents and given their all for the successful development of this project that we call Erhardt.


A tradition of steel-making

A new steel product distribution warehouse in Santurce was opened in December 2009. This new platform in Vizcaya, located adjacent to the port of Bilbao, is to be used to consolidate the processing and sale of sheet steel and other steel products in the markets of northern Spain and France.
The new distribution centre and the first-rate logistical services provided have made Alsider, the Erhardt subsidiary that handles the operation, to lead the market for the sale of sheet steel.


Outer port of A Coruña

Through its subsidiary Terminales Marítimos de Galicia (TMGA), Erhardt became the first company to provide loading, unloading and warehousing terminal services at the new Punta Langosteira Outer Port of A Coruña.
TMGA is the port's main stevedoring company, and the decision to invest in the terminal at the new port is of vital importance in promoting activity in the agriculture and foodstuffs sector. TMGA also received the Premio PYME 2015 ("2015 SME Award"), granted by the La Voz De Galicia newspaper and Banco Pastor.


Setting up of ERTRANSIT Shanghai

In May 2016 Erhardt's subsidiary ERTRANSIT set up ERTRANSIT Shanghai. The legal form used was that of a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) to operate and provide full logistics services as a Chinese company (with Spanish capital). The company hods an NVOCC licence to provide maritime consolidation services.
The initial workforce at the company in China is made up of both Spanish and Chinese personnel, and its efforts are centred particularly on trade between Spain, China and Latin America.
The official opening of the new offices was attended by representatives of Spanish companies and organisations present in Shanghai and by a delegation from Erhardt headed by Chairman Eugenio Erhardt.


Erhardt returns to the insurance sector

It is doing so through MatErh, a company that focuses on risk management in all its forms, with the aim being to detect, prevent and neutralise the expected or unexpected threats that may affect any organisation. In pursuit of this remit, MatErh also provides the best market solutions for the transfer of risk to the insurance sector.
This new company encapsulates Erhardt’s profound understanding of the technical, financial and business fundaments of the insurance sector, reviving a business that has been present since the company’s first steps as an agent for other insurance companies and through its own company ERCOS, S.A. de Seguros y Reaseguros.


ERHARDT receives the prize for Business Innovation

Erhardt receives the Business Innovation Award Vodafone-DEIA Innovation Sariak 2018. The Vodafone DEIA Innovation Awards 2018 honour those companies and institutions that stand out for their firm and bold commitment to innovation as a way of ensuring greater efficiency and a more successful performance”.
The award was received by Eugenio Erhardt Barrenechea, CEO of the Steel & Trading division who, in his speech, acknowledged the work to the “thousands of people who, over five generations, have put the best of themselves in this company” and presented Erhardt as “an open corporation that has always tried to connect people, ideas and businesses”.


Launch of Erhardt France

In January 2019 a new Erhardt company has launched in France: Erhardt France. The new company belongs to the Logistics & Maritime Services division, and began its journey by establishing in the south-west of France, in the town of Bayonne.
Erhardt France has as main lines of business the management of all aspects related to the handling and logistics of goods in port, providing terminal services for general cargo, solid bulk and special cargoes, it will also provide another series of maritime services, such as the consignment of ships.