History

PFEIFER has always been connected with the rope.
And that will remain so.

Over 430 years. Few companies in the world can boast such a tradition. And such a remarkable development. From a small family rope making business to a global industrial enterprise. Or to put it another way: from the hemp rope to continuously new interpretations of the rope – for continuously new application possibilities.

The gaps that PFEIFER bridges are also remarkable. Between past and future. Between tradition and trend. Between responsibility and innovation.

By the way: the fact that PFEIFER is still an owner-managed family company is another part of its astounding history.

  • Milestones 1579 – 1812

    1579

    The ropery of the Pfeifer family from Memmingen is mentioned in documents for the first time. In February 1579 the ropemaker Linhart Biechele, an ancestor of the Pfeifer family, had complained together with his colleagues in the name of the guild about illegal trading practices of the executioner Jacob Teuber. He was alleged to have bought all the horsehair from the market before the guild of ropemakers could buy it, although this transaction had been the privilege of the ropemakers from ancient times.

    Over several generations the ropemaking trade was carried on in the Kalchviertel in Memmingen by the Biechele family (or Büchele, as it was spelt from the beginning of the 17th century).

  • Milestones 1813 – 1949

    1814

    Sebastian Büchele relocates the ropemaking workshop and the general store to Kalchstrasse 23, the Pfeifer company's original building.

    1846

    Thanks to a magistrate's decision of 14 September, Ulrich Benedikt Hail, the foster child of Sebastian Büchele and Anna Catharina Hail, is able to continue the family's ropemaking concession.

    1925

    Following the death of Karl Benedikt Hail, Eduard Pfeifer, who originally trained as a master confectioner and was the husband of Karl Hail's youngest daughter Katharina, takes over the ropemaking business and calls it "Seilerei zum Kreuz" (Ropery at the Cross).

    1949

    The Seilerei zum Kreuz celebrates the 370th anniversary of its establishment. The machine pool already features two mechanical spinning machines and three rope laying machines. In addition to various ropery products and general goods, the first steel wire ropes are offered.

  • Milestones 1950 – 1962

    1950

    At 22 years of age, Hermann Pfeifer takes over his father Eduard's ropery. The manufacture of wire ropes begins – and thus the rapid development into an industrial enterprise.

    1952

    Liebherr. The ropery's first big customer

    1953

    Decisive competitive advantage. The introduction of a 280-tonne press for the manufacturing of rope connections with aluminium ferrules

    1954

    Construction of the first workshop building with office wing on Augsburger Straße in Memmingen.

    1956

    Acquisition of an 800-tonne press for the swaging of ropes up to 40 millimetres in diameter – a sensation and an important purchase argument for the customers.

    First patent application. Cable nets for protection against avalanches

    Establishment of the first sales branch with dispatch warehouse in Freiburg im Breisgau

    1957

    New patent and entry into lifting technology: load nets for the transport of goods by helicopter

    1958 – 1976

    Establishment of further sales branches with dispatch warehouses in Ludwigshafen, Munich, Nuremberg, Herdecke and Hamburg

    1960

    Expansion of the portfolio. In addition to hemp and steel wire ropes, PFEIFER offers self-manufactured lifting straps and rope accessories as retail goods

  • Milestones 1963 – 1974

    1963

    Entry into connecting and lifting systems. Manufacture and sales of anchor sockets and rope eyes for the transport of precast concrete elements

    1965

    Purchase of the ropemaking factory Robert Schneider KG in Berlin. Entry into the manufacture of steel wire ropes, mainly elevator ropes. The first production site outside Memmingen is established.

    1966

    Start of the production of load clamps through the co-operation with the American company J. C. Renfroe & Sons

    1968

    Extension through the building of a new workshop with administration building at Mammostrasse 1 in Memmingen

    1970

    True to the motto "the programme from the load hook downwards", a broad assortment of retail goods for the attachment, lifting, moving and securing of loads is built up. Attachment devices and lashing systems, chains and chain suspension gear, load tensioners, grip hoists and much more.

    Olympic Stadium in Munich. Discovery of the steel wire rope as a structural element in architecture. PFEIFER is involved in the first important cable structure of the modern era.

    Acquisition of the Memmingen branch of the Josef Pieper machine factory with functional workshop buildings and a large works site close to the Pfeifer company’s site. Relocation of parts of the production to the Pieper site.

    1971 – 1972

    Takeover of Gebrüder Kesel KG in Kempten. Establishment of the production of modern kernmantle ropes for mountaineering and water sports.

    Equipping of the first single-handed round-the-world sailor Rollo Gebhard

    Establishment of a proprietary mountaineering line under the brand name "Elite Bergsport". Exclusive co-operation with and equipping of Peter Habeler, who together with Reinhold Messner was the first to conquer Mount Everest without additional oxygen.

    Sale of the mountaineering line to the Swiss branded company Mammut Outdoor in 1987

    1972

    First rope stretching plant (20 tonnes) for the pretensioning and calibration of ropes for use in bridges and support structures.

    1973

    Second large cable structures project. A highly precise cable net as a sleeve for the cooling tower of the Hamm-Schmehausen nuclear power plant.

    1973 – 1974

    Construction of a 4,500 m² factory hall with administration building by the Berliner Seilfabrik with grand inauguration in autumn 1974 by the governing mayor.

    1974

    Takeover of the Memmingen company Huith & Fink. Establishment of the new manufacturing division building fittings and rack systems.

    First foreign subsidiary. PFEIFER Wire Rope & Lifting Technology as sales branch with dispatch warehouse in Salzburg, Austria

  • Milestones 1975 – 1988

    1975

    Economic crisis. PFEIFER banks on growth with the commissioning of a 3,000-tonne rope press

    1977

    Development of plastic fibre ropes with wire rope core for climbing facilities on children's playgrounds.

    1978

    Breakthrough to become the leading manufacturer of rope climbing facilities in playgrounds. The invention of the ball knot and the use of cross clamps for fibre-sheathed steel wire ropes for climbing nets

    First large cable structures project in a foreign country. The rope support system for the roof of a swimming pool in La Paz, Bolivia

    1980 - 1983

    Successful market introduction of further innovations. The new transport system for precast elements with concrete loops, innovative universal grippers for the conveying of sheet metal packages and coils as well as special turning grabs for sheet metal

    1984

    Gerhard Pfeifer joins the family company – in the 12th generation

    Market introduction of the patented “Waved anchor” for the transport of precast concrete elements. A resounding success and one of the company’s best-selling products for over two decades.

    1986 – 1988

    Construction of a new works hall with a floor area of 13,000 m² and an administration building with 3,000 m² at Karl-Lenz-Strasse 66 in Memmingen. Occupation with grand inauguration event in November 1988

  • Milestones 1989 – 2000

    1989

    Supply and assembly of the cable support structure for the gigantic sports stadium “Stadio delle Alpi” in Turin, Italy, in which the opening game of the 1990 FIFA World Cup was played.

    1990

    Establishment of the Hungarian subsidiary Garant Kft. in Budapest

    1992

    The first official GS mark. PFEIFER obtains the "Geprüfte Sicherheit" (Tested Safety) label for lifting anchors and concrete loops

    Establishment of a further sales branch with dispatch warehouse in Dresden

    1993

    Establishment of the J&P co-operation with Jordahl of Berlin for the strengthening of sales in Germany. Basis of an international sales co-operation under the J&P logo

    Establishment of the joint venture company Jordahl & Pfeifer Building Systems in Great Britain

    Establishment of a further PFEIFER branch in Straubing

    1994

    Strategic milestone. The takeover of the world's leading manufacturer of elevator and mining ropes, the wire rope manufacturer "Gustav Kocks GmbH" of Mühlheim an der Ruhr, makes PFEIFER Germany's most important manufacturer of elevator ropes.

    With this company PFEIFER also acquires further international rope sales branches with dispatch warehouses in Luxembourg, the Netherlands and England

    1995

    Production relocation and sale of the “Berliner Seilfabrik”. Parts of the rope manufacturing are relocated to Mülheim, the rope eye and anchor socket production to Memmingen. A PFEIFER branch is set up in rented premises

    PFEIFER sells the “Playground Equipment” segment to works manager Karl-Heinz Köhler. The “Berliner Seilfabrik” is still successful all over the world today as a specialist for rope-based playground equipment.

    1996

    Gerhard Pfeifer takes over the management of the company. PFEIFER becomes an internationally operative group of companies

    One of the world's largest stadium roofs. PFEIFER supplies the support cable structure for the roof of the National Sports Complex in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    1997

    Establishment of two joint venture companies together with Jordahl in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    1997 – 1999

    PFEIFER achieves certification of its quality management system to ISO 9001

    The Gustav Kocks steel wire ropery equips some of the world’s tallest buildings with elevator ropes: the Television Tower in Moscow (537 metres), the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur (450 metres), the Sears Tower in Chicago (443 metres) and the towers of the World Trade Center in New York with its tragic history (up to 417 metres)

  • Milestones 2000 – 2009

    2001

    Establishment of the two sales companies Pfeifer Cables y Equipos de Elevación and Jordahl & Pfeifer Tecnicas de Anclaje in Spain

    2002

    Acquisition of Rope & Tackle through the subsidiary PFEIFER DRAKO Ltd in Great Britain

    Establishment of a further sales company by Jordahl and PFEIFER in Denmark

    2003

    Establishment of the joint venture company J&P Building Systems in Singapore

    2004

    FIFA World Cup 2006. PFEIFER supplies amongst other things the cable support structures for the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne, the Allianz Arena in Frankfurt am Main and the AWD Arena in Hanover

    Establishment of the first subsidiary outside Europe in Shanghai, China

    2006

    Establishment of two further PFEIFER sales companies in Russia and Poland

    2007

    Strategic realignment of PFEIFER DRAKO and works extension at Rheinstrasse 19-23 in Mühlheim

    Establishment of a PFEIFER subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates as well as a further Jordahl & Pfeifer joint venture in Romania

    2008

    Establishment of a production site in Changshu, China as the first production facility outside Germany

    Rockfall protection products. Founding of the new business unit through the takeover of ISOFER AG in Switzerland

    Expansion of the works building at the Dr.-Karl-Lenz-Straße location in Memmingen by around 40%

    Establishment of the first PFEIFER sales hub in the USA

  • Milestones 2010 – present day

    2010

    Roofing of the two World Cup stadia in South Africa – the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and the Cape Town Stadium in the city of the same name – as the largest orders in the company's history

    PFEIFER is awarded the contract for supplying the ropes of the strongest crawler crane with a conventional design to date. Apart from hoisting ropes and adjusting ropes with a diameter of 52 mm, a length of over 2000 metres and piece weights of 30 tonnes, rope connections specially developed for this diameter were also supplied.

    2011

    First European Technical Approval for a connecting and lifting systems product, the DB anchor

    With the introduction of the European standard for the technical approval of building kits, PFEIFER ISOFER continues its innovative system optimisation

    2012

    The business unit organisation is introduced in the head office in Memmingen. Central functions are decentralised

    Reorganisation of the production in Memmingen according to the lean/Kaizen principle and improvement of the lighting, ventilation and noise conditions in the context of the “Healthy Factory”. Expansion of the project within the group

    The crane rope testing tower, a multi-layer winding test stand with a height of over 30 metres for comparison tests with ropes, is put into operation at the Memmingen location  

    2013

    PFEIFER ISOFER develops the highly innovative, patented ISODISK brake element as a system component for use in rock fall barriers

    Largest investment in the history of PFEIFER DRAKO. The new cage-type stranding machine, equipped with state-of-the-art mechanical, control and sensory components, goes into production at the Tunnelstraße location in Mülheim

    The Cable Structure business unit acquires the largest order for tension rods in PFEIFER’s history for the membrane roofing of the Expo Milano 2015

    2014

    Building extension at the Asten location in Austria, doubling the office space

    PFEIFER DRAKO produces the longest wire rope in the company’s history with a single length of 12,400 m, with which the new research ship “Sonne” is equipped

    2015

    Takeover of Covertex Membranes in China, a membrane manufacturing company

    2016

    Acquisition of the Austrian ErneuEner plus GmbH (now PFEIFER Systems GmbH), a specialist in drive technology for mobile and convertible structures, control technology for cable cars and small hydroelectric power plants

    PFEIFER Seil- und Hebetechnik GmbH strengthens the Cable Structures business unit North and Latin America by partnerships with FabriTec Structures LLC and Guard-All Building Solutions LLC. The partnership makes PFEIFER the only fully integrated complete solution provider worldwide, with production capacities for cables, stainless steel components, steel construction, movable and mobile systems and membrane assembly.

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