The history of Wandfluh stretches back as far as 1946 and demonstrates how closely intertwined the highs and lows, joys and frustrations can be over so many years and beyond. Yet the story of Wandfluh’s
success was particularly shaped by stable, organic growth and international expansion with subsidiaries and partner companies across the world.
At the age of 21, Ruedi Wandfluh establishes a small mechanical workshop at Rybrügg in Frutigen. Together with two employees, he carries out general mechanical repairs.
Ruedi Wandfluh marries Gertrud Stucki in 1949. In the same year, he builds a new factory in Kandergrund. Apart from repair work, he develops various machines for the efficient machining of watch jewels, drilling machines, counting machines, automatic placing machines, etc.
Following a downturn in the watchmaking industry, a partial patent for Dotis knitting machines is taken over. The machines are developed further.
The unexpected death of the company founder challenges the existence of the factory. The first knitting machines are ready for sale.
Number of employees: 10
PERSEVERANCE, INNOVATION, UPTURN
The widow Gertrud Wandfluh decides to maintain the jobs in the region and lead the company into the future. She is a home economics teacher by profession and the mother of three small children.
On the advice of a friend of the company founder, Gertrud Wandfluh decides to enter into development, production and sales of hydraulic valves. This decision shapes the future of the company.
It takes two years for the first significant sales success to be realised in the field of hydraulics. But with the first good references, the breakthrough is achieved.
With sales growing strongly, mainly to the Swiss machine tool industry, the business starts to need more space. The production space in Kandergrund is doubled.
Number of employees: 40
OVERHEATING, RECESSION, UPTURN
As a result of the strong growth, the firm is changed into a limited company. Hans Hari-Wandfluh, the owner's second husband, becomes the first Chairman.
Following a restructuring of company management, Ernst Plüss is made Managing Director.
Number of employees: 75
The first stage of the new building in Frutigen is completed. The impact of the recession caused by the oil crisis is compensated to a great extent by the takeover of the competing company Müller Automation in Thun.
The first proportional valves are produced, as well as the electronics cards required to drive them. Miniature valves and soft-switching valves are also developed and in part patented as well.
After the completion of his engineering studies as graduate engineer ETH, practical experience in other companies and a two-year introduction period, Hansruedi Wandfluh, the son of the company founder, takes over the management of the business.
Number of employees: 127
The company becomes international through Wandfluh companies in the USA and in Germany. A holding company for the group is founded in 1985.
As the first Swiss manufacturer of hydraulic components, Wandfluh AG obtains quality certification in accordance with ISO 9001. This recognition is the reward for the many years of dedication to quality.
In Frutigen, a factory of Ascom AG with 50 employees is taken over and continued under the name Wandfluh Produktions AG. In the same year, the Wandfluh company in England commences operating activity.
Hansruedi Wandfluh is elected to the Swiss Parliament as a National Councillor. As a businessman, his main concern is to improve the general conditions for Switzerland as a workplace.
Total employees: 280
A NEW MILLENIUM
To work closer to the market, also in France a sales office is opened.
Wandfluh expands its range with a technology module and now offers 'DSV' hydraulic valves with integrated electronics.
After several years of activities in the Chinese market, a separate Wandfluh company is founded in China.
Responding to the call for local manufacturing, a new production plant is built and put into operation in Shanghai.
After having finished his doctorate at ETH Zurich, gaining experience abroad and completing an introduction period, Matthias Wandfluh, the grandson of the company founder, takes over the operational management of Wandfluh AG.
Total employees: 380