History

In 1807, the British chemist Sir Humphrey Davy melts iron with alumina to produce an iron-aluminium alloy. Aluminium is first released as a metal for a split second before merging with iron. This lays the foundation for the development of our products. Have a look back with us today on our over 100-year company history.

 

1897

At the age of 26, Alfred Gautschi († 1955), born in Menziken in 1871, lays the foundation for Alu Menziken in Fleurier. His experiments with the new raw material aluminium quickly make him a pioneer of the Swiss aluminium industry. The young entrepreneur from a modest background has already acquired many years of hands-on experience in a wide range of metal processing fields. Due to his profound sense of family and attachment to his home region and despite favourable conditions in the Jura region of Fleurier, he relocates his business to Gontenschwil around the turn of the century and, later on, to Menziken. Here, he expands his company step by step, but never forgets to let his employees participate in the success of Alu Menziken. In economically trying times, he pays group insurance, bonuses and donations out of his own pocket, when necessary, on behalf of the company.

1899

Gautschi manufactures the first aluminium pulley for the watch-making industry. He receives an increasing number of orders for engine casings from the vehicle industry. The foundry is extended as a result.
 

1903

Alfred Gautschi moves the company to Gontenschwil where he had acquired the abandoned «Lochmühle» mill. From that point onwards, he applies himself exclusively to the manufacture of aluminium. Gautschi builds a test rolling mill next to the foundry to manufacture aluminium foil.

1905

Gautschi founds the corporation and registers his patent for the manufacture of aluminium foil in all industrial countries.

1907

The first major customer for aluminium foil is from Germany. Orders are placed for a delivery of 1.9 million snuff boxes per month.

Acquisition of the new factory in Menziken. The healthy business environment permits company founder Gautschi to double his employees’ wages. He also establishes an employee benefit fund. Gautschi pays for group insurance, bonuses and donations out of his own pocket, when necessary.
 

1911

The milling of wire, rods and angle profiles begins. The director’s report states «we are struggling with the large numbers of orders».

1912

The company catalogue contains 208 different cooking items, from cutlery to stoves and pressure cookers, etc.

1914

The company presents itself at the Bern regional exhibition. Operations are strongly reduced due employees serving in the military.

1918

Company output has increased more than tenfold since the mill was built in Menziken. 146 employees, including all foremen and lead workers, fall ill with flu, some of them die. As part of the nationwide general strike, work also comes to a standstill for three days at Alu Menziken.

1921

Work begins on the construction of homes for employees.

1926

Take-over of the Leuenberger & Cie. machine construction workshops in Reinach which mainly produces turning machines.

1928

By purchasing its first vertical extrusion press (press force of 350 tons), the company lays the foundations for a successful future as a press works with international renown.

1932

General strike: In July, around 400 employees hold a one-day strike against the factory in Menziken and Gontenschwil. The contentious issues include the 5.5 percent wage cut and the 30 percent provisional reduction of annual leave. The wage cut enters into force, however, annual leave is not reduced.

Alu Menziken takes over the cookware company Ferdinand Sigg AG in Frauenfeld. At this point in time, Sigg is one of the company's biggest national customers. Sigg’s «Arta-Pot» pressure cooker is coveted by housewives for years, even serving well on Prof. Dr. Dyrenfurth’s first expedition to the Himalayas.
 

1939

Spectroscope purchased and chemical laboratory established. Participation at the Zurich regional exhibition. Strong production constraints as a result of World War II.

1946

The company is renamed «Aluminium AG Menziken».

1948

The lightweight metal window is developed. Roofing, wall cladding, tilting and rolling doors, slatted blinds, railing structures, etc all follow. Opening of the company canteen.

1952

Extension of the foundry to include state-of-the art features. Electrically-heated ovens replace oil firing. Initially, the ovens were heated with coke.

1953

Construction of the new roller plant in Menziken on the site of the former «Negerdorf».

1954

Commissioning of the 2,500-ton extrusion press in Menziken, which at this point in time is one of the most modern in the world.

1956

For the first time, the company supplies aircraft profiles to Fokker for its legendary F50.

1960

Building work begins on the multi-storey building in Menziken and is completed in 1962.

1962

The company builds a new extrusion press (with basement) covering a total surface area of 3,800 square meters in Reinacher Moos.

1964

Participation at the Lausanne exhibition.

1969

Extension of the Reinach press work to include a paint-spray line, a polishing department and a fully-automatic anodizing plant.

 

1972

A sudden flood of orders at the Reinach profile factory leads to delivery periods of 6 to 8 months.

1974

Construction and commissioning of a branch in Schüpfheim, Entlebuch. The Gontenschwil factory manufactures a 1,014 kg heavy cast piece used for cladding a three-stage European rocket.

1977

For the first time, the Alu Menziken group exhibits at the «Salon international de l'Aéronautic et de l'Espace» in Le Bourget, Paris, the world’s largest air show. Plans are made to further develop the field of aircraft materials.

1978

At the end of the year, the Alu Menziken group has a work force of 966 employees. As the labour market has dried up in the region, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain staff numbers. It becomes virtually impossible to find qualified staff.

1981

Over 40% of Alu Menziken’s direct exports go to Germany, almost 20% to Holland and between 3 and 8% to Italy, Sweden, France, the UK and Austria. In addition, 30 tons of painted belts are shipped to Nigeria (photo: bridge railing) and flagpoles are shipped to the United Arab Emirates.

1983

The Alu Menziken group settles in the USA and acquires Precise Inc. in Orangenburg, NY, a trading company for sports, leisure and hunting items.

1986

The Menziken machine factory opens up a branch in Charlotte, N.C., USA, under the name of Menziken Automation Corp.

1988

Acquisition of the majority of shares of Injecta AG, Teufenthal.

1991

The Alu Menziken group acquires the hard alloy extrusion press Universal Alloy Corporation (UAC), Anaheim, CA, USA. Primarily UAC supplies aircraft companies with high strength aluminium semi-finished products.

1992

The US trading company Intercontinental Metals (IME) in Miami, Florida joins the Alu Menziken group. IME trades aluminium rolled products for the aircraft industry. The Alu Menziken group acquires Afag AG with branches in Huttwil, Aarberg and Berlin (Germany). This is a well-known assembly automation company.

1993

Aluminium AG Menziken converts into a holding company. The semi-finished products operational area is taken over into the newly founded Alu Menziken Industrie AG. This is divided into three independent areas of press products, moulded parts and trade centre.

1994

Acquisition of the casting production of ABB high-voltage technology Oerlikon.

1995

The Alu Menziken group splits its activities into three segments: semi-finished products, cast products and aircraft materials. It acquires Leichtmetall AG Schaffhausen, a foundry of the Georg Fischer group. The Alu Metal Service Menziken AG is born out of the merger of the trade and service centres in Menziken and the trade company Bornhauser AG.

1996

Alu Menziken Guss AG is born out of the combination of the Gontenschwil foundry with Georg Fischer Leichtmetall AG. With the sale of Sigg AG in Frauenfeld, the Alu Menziken group focuses on its own core business.

1997

Alu Metall Service Menziken AG opens its new, ultra-modern profile warehouse. The group opens the trend-setting Wynental training centre in Menziken. Apprentices, employees and participants from external companies are trained at this centre.

The Alu Menziken group introduces profit sharing for all employees at the Swiss company. The pre-requisite is that the company makes a profit. Record-breaking casting! Alu Menziken Guss AG’s sand-casting team handles a massive job: it casts the world’s heaviest aluminium cast piece, weighing 7.3 tons. The achievement is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

1999

Almatec AG, which works in the electronic packaging technology, settles in the market of the future - China: in the Autumn, thanks to a joint venture, it builds its telecommunications shelter directly in Beijing.

2000

Strategic adjustment towards an integrated industrial group for high-quality aluminium semi-finished products: Sale of the companies Alu Menziken Guss AG and Afag AG.

2001

Alu Metall Service Menziken AG opens an automated high bay warehouse for plates, unique in Switzerland.

2002

Alu Menziken Industrie opens its new 3,500-ton extrusion line - the world's most modern of its kind.

2003

Sale of Almatec AG, Schüpfheim. Alu Menziken Industrie AG is renamed Alu Menziken Extrusion AG.

2004

Sale of Injecta Druckguss AG, Teufenthal.

2005

Alu Menziken Metall Service Menziken AG is sold to Debrunner Koenig Holding AG.

2007

Montana Tech Components AG takes over the Alu Menziken group.

2008

Sale of Universal Alloy Corp. (UAC), USA to the Montana group. A fully integrated SAP system is successfully introduced mid-year.

2009

Alu Menziken opens a new 1,600-ton press in record time and integrates this into the automated logistics system.

2010

Montana Tech Components AG purchases all shares of the Alu Menziken group. Reorganisation by incorporating all companies into Alu Menziken Extrusion AG.

2012

A huge investment in a new casting house with latest energy efficiency.

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