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History

A biography of Alois Kober, the company founder

1908 alois_1 Alois Kober is born in Edenhausen near Krumbach in June, 1908. At the age of 13, he joins his parents’ company and learns the locksmith’s trade from his father.
1931 meisterbrief_1a In November 1931, aged 23, he becomes self-employed and buys a locksmith’s shop in Koetz. A year later, he receives his master craftsman’s diploma and enlarges his locksmith’s shop into an engineering shop.
1939 After he and his journeymen have been called up at the beginning of World War II, the company temporarily comes to a standstill.
1945 Mr Kober starts again with what has been left. From this time on, he dedicates his company to vehicle technology and mechanical engineering.


maenner_6Thanks to his great entrepreneurial initiative and unflagging diligence, the company soon prospers. He is supported by his wife, Hedwig, and later on, by his three sons, who all learn the locksmith’s trade from him. With the assistance of his three sons, Herbert, Kurt and Wilhelm, he turns the business into an internationally active group of companies.


With a lot of talent and unremitting dedication he develops the company into one of worldwide reputation.


In recognition of his merits, Mr Kober is granted the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (”Bundesverdienstkreuz”) and also the major decoration of the Austrian State of Steiermark.

He is made freeman of both Koetz and Obdach/Steiermark.


Up until his death, he takes a lively interest in the company business.
1980 Mr Kober is awarded the honorary master craftsman’s diploma in recognition of his outstanding services to Swabian handicraft.
1996 In February 1996, he dies at the age of 87 after an acute illness.

Company history decade by decade

1931 As a 23-year old locksmith Alois Kober becomes self-employed and establishes his company in a street called “Kurze Gasse” in Grosskoetz. He starts under the most modest of conditions and does the jobs which typically fall to a locksmith in a farming community and rural surroundings.
1936 Soon, the work of a locksmith’s shop becomes too limited for his entrepreneurial energy, and thus he expands his workshop to include vehicle construction and mechanical engineering.
1937 The small locksmith’s shop has already turned into a medium-sized industrial company.


In early 1940, Alois Kober’s locksmith’s shop, a company primarily engaged in locksmith’s work, the repair of agricultural machinery and the handicrafting of small vehicles, is one of many handicraft companies in Swabia employing a number of apprentices and journeymen.


The production workshops are those in which the company was established in 1931.


By the outbreak of war, Kober employs 10 employees.

He and his journeymen are called up and the company comes to a temporary standstill.

World War II and its consequences prove to be a trial, which, however, is successfully overcome

1945 New start after the end of the war.

Orders from local blacksmiths are not sufficient for Alois Kober; he broadens his local clientele by offering special products and services, such as a farm vehicle with rubber tyres.

The craftsman’s business, which initially worked to order, now turns into a supraregional provider. A sales organisation thus becomes necessary. The number of incoming orders calls for efficient manufacturing and finally, extended and then new production facilities. Problem-solving innovations follow, such as a brake system for trailers, which can be operated from the tractor.
1947 Under his father’s instruction, Mr Kober’s son Herbert starts his apprenticeship to become a locksmith and mechanic; he is the company’s sixth employee.

1950 Under his father’s instruction, Mr Kober’s son Kurt Kober starts his apprenticeship to become a locksmith and mechanic.
1952 haus_2
In 1952, with the development and manufacture of hand-brake levers mainly for agricultural trailers, the company Kober experiences the beginning of a major upswing.
1952 maenner_5 Commencement of hand-brake lever manufacturing, marking the start of series production of vehicle parts.

Even if this sounds extremely strange, it is a bad car accident, in which Alois Kober and his eldest son Herbert are involved, that marks the beginning of AL-KO brake design and development.

auto_1bThe months of recuperation give Alois and Herbert Kober plenty of time to think about all sorts of things. Hence the idea arises to design an automatic overrun brake for farm vehicles which responds to the slightest pressure and thus prevents the trailer first having to ram the towing vehicle in the dreaded manner from behind. Only just recovered, Alois Kober sets out to realise his ideas and soon the first brake tests (using an old jeep) are carried out. Continuous refinement in design produces an automatic overrun brake which is superior to comparable products in many ways.


Soon, large companies operating in the relevant sectors start to show an interest in AL-KO products. Kober becomes their supplier since he is quick to develop efficient production methods, and is thus able to keep pace with his competitors as far as prices are concerned.
1952 anzeige_1 Manufacture of the first tested automatic overrun brake in Germany (test mark M1).
1952 First series production of hand-brake levers for agricultural trailers.
1953 Under his father’s instruction, Mr. Kober’s son Willy starts his apprenticeship to become a mechanic.
1953 AL-KO already employs 30 persons.
1955 anzeige_2 In 1955 Kober is granted the first patent for a continuously variable hand-brake lever.
1954 The products catch on quickly, so that in 1954 when an extension of the old company premises becomes impossible, the construction of new business premises is started at a new site in “Ichenhauser Strasse” (seat of company headquarters still today).


The company continues to grow year by year; incoming orders make it necessary to recruit more and more employees. The factory has to be extended almost every year.


The manufacturing programme is broadened too, not least because many clients continually approach the company with new requests, all of which are fulfilled in some way or other.
1954 This results in the development and manufacture of:

stuetzraeder_1automatic brakes for farm vehicles and trailers,

automatic overrun brakes for passenger-car trailers,

automatic overrun brakes for travelling machines,

brake cable connections for all types of vehicle,

draw bars for farm vehicles and lorry trailers,

drawbar jack castor wheels,

parking brakes,

coupling devices,

kupplungand more than a hundred different types of hand-brake levers.

Apart from these key products, manufacture of steel wheel chocks for farm vehicles and lorries and for various types of wheel barrow.


menschenTrade-fair exhibits:

The continuously variable hand-brake lever is awarded a gold medal.

medalie_1
1954 The company’s success is the result of unflagging diligence and great entrepreneurial initiative.

In 1958, senior partner Alois Kober appoints his son Herbert commercial director.

Kurt Kober is appointed technical director.

Willy Kober is involved in operation and process planning.

The senior partner’s wife, Hedwig Kober, helps out in the office and assists her husband in every possible way.
1954 The company has approximately 40 employees.
1958 The company already has 150 employees.
1958 haus_1 Establishment of the first subsidiary, SCHWABENGER?TE GMBH, GROSSKOETZ, as sales and marketing organization for Germany; this subsidiary has to sell and market all products except those of the vehicle sector.
1958 zeitung A newspaper report is published in the “Guenzburger Zeitung” of October 15, 1958. Among other things, a factory tour is described.
1959 Re-organisation of the sole proprietorship into a KG (= limited commercial partnership).

1961 werkstatt_1The company ALOIS KOBER KG, AUSTRIA is established in Zell/Tyrol, so as to serve the EFTA market better.
1961 30-year anniversary of AL-KO.
jubilaeu_1
1961 The DIY saw is included in the programme.
1963 Production of the first concrete mixers in Zell.

mischer_1
1963 Production of the 100,000th hand-brake lever.
menschen_2d
1963 The company ALOIS KOBER S.A.S. is set up in Verona in order to obtain a better footing on the Italian market.
1964 A sales office is opened in Vienna.
1965 The AL-KO machine factory is established in Obdach to manufacture concrete mixers and supply the EFTA market.
1965 obdach_1 The plant in Zell soon becomes too small, so that a further plant has to be set up in Obdach, in the Austrian state of Steiermark, as a branch of the Zell am Ziller business location.


werkstatt_2aConcrete mixers, cellar windows and snow shovels are manufactured there.
1966 maeher_2 In 1966, the first lawn mowers are manufactured. The go-ahead for the manufacturing of gardening products is given in Kleinkoetz.
1966 The Klagenfurt sales office is opened.
1967 The company moves into a new office building in Grosskoetz.

The Kober company now employs more than 600 people.
1967 rennen_1aThe company starts the production of ‘builders’ winches, snow bobs (NORDSTAR I) and rotary snow ploughs in Obdach.
1967 Design and manufacturing of a hexagon rubber axle.

achse_2
1968 Chassis for caravans.

fahrgestell_1
1968 kaminThe Obdach plant manufactures the garden chimney “Serenade” and the new mixer ZB 100 L.

 

geraete_1aIn June 1970, the company celebrates production of the 75000th concrete mixer.

 

mann_2

maenner_3

1968 First stage of construction of the Kleinkoetz plant.
1969 Takeover of two marketing and sales companies in England.
1969 jubiare_1
Photo: Mr Kober honours an employee celebrating a round anniversary.


kupplung_1In the late 60s, development of a ball coupling for single-handed operation.
1968 maeher_1— one of the first lawn mowers.

1970 17th August, 1970: go-ahead for the trainee workshop in Koetz.
1970 More companies founded in England, France, Switzerland and Italy.

vintl
1970 schneeraser_1
1974 1973/74 AL-KO “Rückmatic” designed and launched on the market.
1974 1,200 employees/ turnover DM 125 million.
1975 maenner_4Investment in the “Ventilation Technology” sector.

Takeover of the Fritz Haugg GmbH, founded in 1961, “polar air heater plant” based in Jettingen Scheppach;

AL-KO Polar GmbH, now called AL-KO THERM GmbH.
1976 Warm-water and air-heating equipment and process-engineering components added to the programme.
1977 Start of activities in the alternative energy sector, with heat pumps and solar collectors.
1977 10th February, 1977: takeover of the ORION Werke AG Spreitenbach, Switzerland; and establishment of ORION AL-KO AG
1977 Large inspection and test facility including a roller dynamometer to simulate kilometres driven; practice-oriented stress tests can now be conducted within a very short time.
1977 1976/77 = introduction of the delta semi-trailing link axle.
1978 anzeige_3Investment in the Ventilation Technology sector; equipment and components for ventilation and air conditioning in buildings.
1979 Foundation of the Alois Kober GmbH, a machine factory in Koetz, to manufacture vehicle components.
1979 kamin_1
1979 The company”Schobel-Klimatechnik” is taken over to round off the ventilation and air-conditioning equipment programme.

In 1979, development of the AL-KO amc chassis a system lightweight chassis. Development and construction of chassis made from components of the Peugeot J9 for camping and vending vans.

60s/70s foundation of further subsidiaries in Germany, Austria (1961), Italy(1963), Switzerland(1970), England (1970), France(1970), Spain(1988), Belgium(1979), Netherlands(1980), Norway(1983), Sweden(1982)

1981 1,900 employees
1981 akkomat_1
1983 Design of the AL-KO geometric four-link drawbar.
1983 Production of the first garden shredder.
1983 Establishment of AL-KO CONSULTING-ENGINEERING GMBH for in-house services and management services within the AL-KO Group.
1984 anzeige_4
1985 Market launch of today’s amc chassis based on Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Jumper.
1987 1st January 1987, re-organisation of ALOIS KOBER KG into a shareholding company,

the AL-KO KOBER AG, with Herbert, Kurt and Willy Kober as members of the Board of Management.

Board of Management:

  • 15th May, 1993 Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded to Herbert Kober.
  • 1st July, 1994 Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded to Kurt Kober.
  • 18th February, 1995 Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded to Willy Kober.
  • 1997 Roland Kober is appointed member of the Board of Management.
  • 1st September, 1998 Günther Diermann becomes a member of the Board of Management.

Further decorations for Herbert Kober: large silver decoration of the Republic of Austria, state medal for outstanding services to the Bavarian economy, freeman of Obdach. In this way, tribute is paid to Herbert Kober’s personal commitment in the economic and cultural sectors, and also his largely unknown commitment in the social sector.


Further decorations for Kurt Kober: golden eagle decoration of Tyrol, freeman of Ramsau, a municipality in Zillertal/Austria, freeman of Obdach.


Further decorations for Willy Kober: freeman of Obdach, carrier of the golden ring of the chamber of industry and commerce.


In 1994, the entrepreneurial families Kober of the city of Koetz are awarded the gold medal for their support to the music association Allg?u-Swabia.

Numerous other awards and honours.

1988 Foundation of AL-KO ENTSORGUNGSGER?TE- UND SYSTEME GMBH

(today “Suction and Extraction Technology” division).
1989 Innovation prize for compact extraction apparatus.
1988 Optimisation of equipment and components by means of the plant-owned, T?V-calibrated test rig.
1988 Development and introduction of AKS 2000.
1989 Development of directional control programme.
1989 Establishment of AL-KO THERM WITTENBERG GMBH for the prefabrication of components used in ventilation appliances.

In the 80s/90s, establishment of subsidiaries in USA (1983), Australia (1986), Hungary, Poland and the CIS.
1987 AL-KO MFK MASCHINENFABRIK GMBH, Lilienthal (founded in 1980) becomes a subsidiary of ALOIS KOBER GMBH. The company manufactures coupling devices and off-road accessories.
1989 Cooperation with the Japanese Yamaha Group in the production and development of lawn mowers.

1990 Optimised ventilation equipment following development of the free wheel.
1990 Establishment of a voluntary environmental-protection work group for employees in Koetz.
1991 Design of mobile suction and extraction systems especially for the wood processing sector.
1991 AL-KO takes over Aero Tech Gesellschaft f?r Klima- und K?ltetechnik GmbH (company active in air conditioning and refrigeration technology), Frankfurt, and starts with the production of air-conditioning cabinets and cold chambers.
1991 3,400 employees.

Start of the AQS programme (AL-KO quality and safety), the company-specific TQM system.
1992 In April 1992, after thorough planning, construction of a new office building is started in Industriestrasse, Kleinkoetz, and the existing plant is extended.
1993 In July 1993, the new building is ready. Approximately 1,200 square meters of office space accommodate the following units: “Operation and Process Planning”, “Computing Centre/IT/Organisation”, “Production Control”, “Central scheduling”, “Personnel”, “Plant Management” “Quality Assurance”, “Production-Facility Design” and “Maintenance”.
1993 The AL-KO Euro-axle system designed for caravans and other trailers is awarded the “Golden C” of the Deutscher Campingclub e.V.(German Camping Club).
1994 AL-KO Koetz is certified as per DIN ISO.
1994 Establishment of a joint venture in China.
1995 AL-KO takes over the Ginge company.
1995 Organisational merger of the individual companies active in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology) now named AL-KO Ventilation Technology and comprising the “Air-Conditioning Technology”, “Heating Technology” and “Suction/Extraction Technology” units.
1997 Introduction of SAP/R3.
1998 Re-organisation of the “Vehicle Technology” division into “Vehicle Technology Europe”, “Automotive” and “Vehicle Technology Overseas”.
1999 68 years of AL-KO — well equipped for the coming millennium.

The company AL-KO Kober has always been inseparably connected with the family Kober, the family who founded it and still owns it.

2003 AL-KO takes over SECAMAI S.A. in France to force the air-technology distribution activities

Foundation of a subsidiary in Riga, Latvia, for the distribution of AL-KO Vehicle Technology and AL-KO Garden + Hobby products in the baltic states
2004 Takeover of the SIEMON GmbH in Emmerzhausen, manufacturer of air technology appliances

Foundation of a distribution company for AL-KO Vehicle Technology and AL-KO Garden + Hobby in Kiev, Ukraine
2005 AL-KO takes over RTN-Goett SAS in France, manufacturer of axes, brakes, overrun devices and other vehicle technology accessories

Harald Kober was appointed to the board of management