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The history of Keller & Kalmbach

This is the success story of Keller & Kalmbach, today's leading supplier in the field of fastening technology and experts when it comes to intelligent C-parts management.

Our company history began over 140 years ago in Munich, with the founding of "Christ & Kalmbach" in 1878. A lot has changed since then and yet the cornerstones of our company, such as the company philosophy "Fit.Fair.Friendly" are still firmly anchored in our corporate policy.
 
Take a journey with us through the impressive history of the company, from the beginnings of a small screw trader, through the expansion of our business areas, to the establishment of new locations and today's modern technology.

In 2019, K&K established an Enterprise Lab with Fraunhofer IML to develop innovative solutions to strengthen its role as one of the leading C-parts system suppliers. Since then, not only has the "Enterprise Lab" evolved, but so has the company's direction, which is reflected in K&K's Vision 2025: We see our main mission as optimizing the supply chain. We want to organize the best material flow, help our customers to use optimal products, and be a leader in the area of C-parts in the procurement and supply of production and maintenance.
In 2020, we expanded our presence to Sweden by acquiring the company "Fameco Holding AB". We were also very pleased to be named one of the TOP100 most innovative medium-sized companies in Germany. Additional sales of certified mouth-nose masks and disinfectants enabled us to cope well with the fiscal year despite the Corona pandemic.
We celebrated our 140th company anniversary in 2018. We look back on a long company history with many highlights. Two families who helped shape and lead it and, last but not least, our loyal employees. Together with our customers and suppliers, they make Keller & Kalmbach what we are today.
In 2016, we introduced eLogistics. eLogistics is an intelligent software solution for automated goods management. This enables the control of all material and information flows of items with recurring requirements. This made our platform the first with a third-party supplier connection.
This year, we introduced the first systems with RFID function, enabling our customers to achieve even more efficient and cost-effective C-parts management. The first systems were turnLOG® and pushLOG®. In the meantime, we have a wide range of logistics systems, modern software and technologies, and all-round service. We adapt to your needs.
The new central warehouse and distribution center in Hilpoltstein, which went into operation in 2009, was expanded in 2016. Today, it is one of the most modern and efficient in the market. Also in 2009, the department for quality assurance was established in Hilpoltstein and ensures the quality of our products with its certifications. In 2011, we introduced our RFID systems. More information about our intelligent C-parts management solutions can be found here.
Our in-house quality management was certified according to VDA for the first time in 2003. This strengthens customer confidence in our high-level quality and safety requirements.
Despite all the awareness of tradition, you also have to part with old things from time to time. This was also the case with the iron department, which had been one of the strongest in terms of sales until the death of its manager. Nevertheless, the company's growth was almost always stronger than forecast. The company also continued to expand in the Asian market and founded "Keller & Kalmbach HK" in Hong Kong in the same year. In the meantime, we have purchasing offices all over the world, thus contributing to networking and internationality.
Keller & Kalmbach was first certified according to DIN ISO 9002 in 1993. Years earlier, we had already started to set up an in-house quality management - making the company one of the first. And there was also something new in Pasing: Florian Seidl, who is known to have a passion for art, opened a screw and tool museum for customers, employees and visitors in the upper semicircular section of the building.
In this year, we started the first Kanban project at Siemens. In order to also fulfill the dream of a central warehouse, the sister company Koblin & Seidl, founded shortly before, bought a plot of land in Unterschleißheim. Construction began in 1988 and operations started in 1990. This building also has the typical curves of architect Straßl and is still the headquarters of Keller & Kalmbach today. A glance at the map made it clear that the next branch had to be built: Nuremberg. It was opened in the spring of 1991.
In April 1981, the new building for the Straubing branch was inaugurated, and in March two years later, the extension in Munich-Pasing was occupied. The architect Peter Straßl, a friend of Florian Seidl, gave the building the curves that became a Keller & Kalmbach landmark. In 1984 the first Christmas party took place. Since then, it is the biggest and most popular event of the company. Employees from all branches come to Munich, there is good food and drink and the theater group - consisting of talented employees - performed funny plays even then. A year later, a sales store was then opened for the first time in Regensburg.
Keller & Kalmbach celebrated its 100th anniversary. To commemorate the company's beginnings, a long-time customer shoes a horse (see picture). Emil Seidl looks back on the company's impressive history and the entire staff joins in the celebration. This year also saw the first publication of the company's own customer magazine "Keller & Kalmbach Kurier". Shortly after Florian Seidl completed his doctorate and became managing director, his father passed away. This left him largely on his own in day-to-day operations from 1980 onward. However, this did not prevent him from helping the company to grow further.
The 70s did not start well for K&K. Emil Seidl developed heart problems. The company was relocated to Munich-Pasing and opened in September 1974. A year later, Emil Seidl's son, Florian Seidl, joined the company as a commercial employee, although his interests initially lay elsewhere. His father, however, insisted on tradition, just as his father had already done. Florian Seidl's lack of professional training aroused skepticism among the employees - he proved himself, among other things, by introducing an EDP system for the first time in the mid-70s. On 01.01.1977 the company was transformed into a limited liability.
The entry into the automotive industry succeeded early. At that time, we already convinced car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and BMW with our competence and product variety and were able to meet the high standards. As the first German screw dealer, we were allowed to supply fasteners directly to the production of the automotive industry as early as 1962! But also in general, the 50s and 60s were golden times for dealers of fasteners. The economy was booming and Keller & Kalmbach soon had 100 employees for the first time. Working hours had changed and were 8:00 am to 6:00 pm during the week and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturdays. In 1956, we established our first branch in Straubing, in a former blacksmith store.
Until the currency reform in 1948, the procurement of goods was very difficult. Emil Seidl himself drove with employees and the remaining company truck to "Bauer & Schaurte" in Neuss to exchange food for screws. In 1949, Keller & Kalmbach participated for the first time in the International Crafts Fair and Emil visited the large industrial consumers in Bavaria at an early stage. Initially, mainly the agricultural machinery industry, for which Keller & Kalmbach quickly became the sole supplier of screws and fasteners for some.
Keller & Kalmbach benefited little from the industrial recovery that began in 1933. When all men of military age were drafted at the beginning of the war, only 15 employees remained. Women, older men, including only one representative - the 67-year-old Mr. Gestacker. He was the last one who still visited his customers by carriage until one year after the beginning of the war. Initially, the Keller & Kalmbach buildings were only lightly hit by incendiary bombs, but on July 13, 1944, they were heavily damaged. Only in the buried cellars, filled foot-high with water, was there still merchandise. When the last parts, still provisionally used for shop and office, were also destroyed, the office was moved to Hermann Seidl's apartment.
Munich's population continues to grow, while Keller & Kalmbach's sales stagnate. On the one hand due to the general economic crisis, on the other hand due to structural causes. Farriery is less and less in demand in an increasingly motorized society. That year, Hermann's son, Emil Seidl, joined the company as an apprentice. One of Emil's great achievements was to be winning the industry as a new clientele. He recognized the importance of the high-strength steel screw and introduced it to some industrial consumers beginning in 1935. By 1928, Keller & Kalmbach had 40 employees and was recovering well from the First World War.
Keller & Kalmbach delivered 200 tons of horseshoes and about 800 tons of iron annually. After the turn of the century, the clientele extended from Vienna to Lake Constance, from Merano to Würzburg. At the age of 56, Mr. Kalmbach wanted to retire, as was customary at the time. But since he has no children or wealthy relatives who can take over his business, he comes into contact with Emil Seidl. The latter is looking for a company in Munich for his son Hermann and becomes aware of the opportunity. On September 1, 1908, the contract of sale is signed between Hermann Seidl, Gustav Keller and Friedrich Kurz, with which they take over the company. One day later, Kalmbach also sells the land to the company Keller & Kalmbach OHG.
Heinrich Kalmbach was a very socially minded boss. At the turn of the century, he already granted his employees one week of vacation per year. This was exceptional for the time. The working hours were from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with one hour for lunch - from Monday to Saturday. The store was also open on Sunday for customers from the country from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Until today, of course, the hours and vacations have changed, the justice and social attitude of the management still exists.
After the Great Depression, which lasted until the 1980s, there was an economic upswing again. Heinrich Kalmbach was also aware of this and acquired new business premises in 1892. One was at Schwanthalerstrasse 14, where the company logo can still be seen on the building today. The other was at Schommerstrasse 8 and 8a, today's Kolpingstrasse.
Heinrich Kalmbach (1852-1914), a trained iron merchant, founded the company "Christ & Kalmbach" in 1878, thus setting the stage for today's company. Registered in the trade register under number 2999, the company was initially based in a rented business premises at Sonnenstrasse 27 in Munich. On 01.01.1880, Kalmbach's brother-in-law Heinrich Keller joins the company in place of his original partner Mr. Christ. The company is renamed "Keller & Kalmbach, Eisen- & Eisenwarenhandlung". In the screw sector, the company quickly becomes the number one in Munich.