As one of the oldest German family-owned companies, we will be celebrating a very special anniversary in 2023: the PFEIFER Seil- und Hebetechnik company from Memmingen looks back on 444 years of company history on February 13th. To mark this event, we will be providing a variety of insights into our eventful past over the upcoming months.
Few companies can boast history as long as PFEIFER’s. That is why we regularly appear in rankings of the oldest companies. The well-known German business newspaper Handelsblatt even lists PFEIFER as the fifth oldest family-owned company in Germany.
First mention in 1579
The first documented mention of PFEIFER dates back to February 13th, 1579. At that time, the ropemaker Linhart Biechele - an ancestor of today's owner family Pfeifer - and his colleagues complained to the Memmingen city council about the local hangman who had illegally bought horsehair at the market. This was the origin of our group of companies, which today is active worldwide.
From a craft business to a global player
Since 1579, the history of the family business can be traced back over 12 generations to the current owner Gerhard Pfeifer and his family. "My grandfather Eduard Pfeifer paved the way towards industrialization. Under my father Hermann Pfeifer, the handcraft business finally transformed into a modern industrial company from the 1950s onwards," says the current company owner. He himself served the company as its CEO for several decades and pushed the Group’s internationalization during this period.
From hemp rope to wire rope
Unlike in previous centuries, traditional hemp ropes no longer play a role in PFEIFER's business today. "With our Ropes & Services division, we specialize in wire ropes for cranes, elevators, industry and maritime applications," Gerhard Pfeifer explains. Over the decades, the portfolio expanded to include other product segments, which, according to Pfeifer, are derived from the traditional rope application areas and are combined in the Lifting Division: "We offer diverse and reliable solutions to efficiently lift, move and connect loads and goods of all kinds." The company's two core areas are complemented by the project business of the Structures Division, which specializes in rope-supported lightweight architecture and structures.
Pioneer in rope and lifting technology
As the company with the longest tradition in the field of rope and lifting technology, PFEIFER has been involved in numerous milestones in the industry and has consistently set standards in the market: the construction of the Munich Olympic Stadium as the first rope-supported building in the world, the roping of the largest and most demanding cranes and highest elevators around the globe, or the invention of groundbreaking innovations such as the transport anchor system for precast concrete elements, to name just a few. The list of the company's highlights is long. "Anyone who survives 444 years in the market has to be innovative and solution-driven," Gerhard Pfeifer is convinced. "There's a reason we have been building connections you can count on since 1579.”
On the occasion of this anniversary, we would like to share our treasure of experience with our customers, employees and partners this year with selective campaigns and events – under the slogan "PFEIFER 444".