From history to modern

Every successful story has finally arised from only one source: human and the power of their scope for design...

The most important milestones in the history of our parent company Stephan Witte & Comp were:

1785 Foundation of the needle manufacturing company by Conrad von der Becke.

1805 Master needle craftsman Stephan Witte, along with master tailor Franz Hermann Herbers. Herbers knows what the market needs and Witte has command of the production technology.

1816 The company already produces 10 million needles a year and competes on all the world markets for needles, with the previously dominatin English needle industry

1827 The English reconquer the leadership of the world market. Their machine-made needles achieve a precision and quality unknown until then. The needle industry in Iserlohn is threatened by ruin.

1840 The son of Stephan Witte, Hermann Witte, manages to learn about the production techniques of the English competition, and in the following years, with the help of a local master locksmith in Iserlohn, succeeds in further developing the English machines robots.

1855 28 years before the statutory regulation for a public health insurance system is proclaimed by Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Stephan Witte establishes a company health insurance and pension fund for all employees which becomes a trademark for business social partnerships during those politically turbulent times.

1856 The company chronicle registers 1100 to 1300 employees. They produces up to two million needles a day. 1864 It becomes too crowded for the expanding company in the five-story "factory houses" in the inner city. WITTE builds a new factory out of the city gates, powered entirely by steam and transmission drives.

1894 At the initiative of Friedrich Kirchhoff, who rose from being a borrowed commercial apprentice to joint proprietor of the company within 15 years, a pressing and stamping plant is built. This "second pillar", considered as risk compensation for the global economic crisis towards the end of the 19th century, is the boldest venture as yet taken in the now over 100-year history of the firm. It initially begins with a failure, since the market does not sufficiently accept the first product right away, a patented belt pulley for transmission drives.

1900 The company has managed to survive this challenging test. The railroad car and locomotive factories recognize the advantages of pressed sheet steel components. The mining and automotive industries follow. Ahead of its time, the WITTE pressing plant has opened the gates to a future-oriented chapter in industrial technology.

1914 The First World War is also a catastrophe for the to export-oriented needle industry.

1918 The main sales  markets in East Asia fall to the Japanese competition.

1925 Hans Kirchhoff, the son of the pioneering entre-  preneur Friedrich Kirchhoff, manages to gain a foothold in the Far East again with a long trip through the region, but the heyday of needle manufacturing is over.

1926 The "age of ready-to-wear goods", the machine production of clothing, has triggered a first "classic structural transformation".

1945 After the end of the Second World War, the WITTE pressing plant is temporarily threatened by dismantlement, but due to good contacts maintained by the Kirchhoffs to the leading English industrialists, the company is spared, and in 1946 receives a production permit for producing essential products such as vibrating oscillating conveyors and mine trolley housings for pit coal mining, wagon parts for the railway industry, wheelbarrows for construction workers, and frying pans for common household use.

1948 After the beginning of the currency reform, WITTE also manufactures steel boilers and radiators for hot water central heating systems. And suddenly there is also a demand for needles again. With a monthly production of up to 60 million sewing, darning, and handcraft needles, the traditional company experiences its last heyday.

1949 WITTE uses the know-how of skilled needle workers and the machines of the needle factory to establish a new branch of production, the manufacture of screwdrivers for industry, skilled craftsmen and home craftsmen.

1954 The needle production is discontinued for good, and thus marks an economically necessary conclusion to this traditional chapter in the company's history 170 years after its founding.

1955 WITTE promotes the creation of new branches of production. Apart from the dominating pressing plant, the "hand tool" and "heating technology" sectors show growing capacities. The production of screwdrivers is expanded to over 1000 different articles. Dr. Fritz Kirchhoff is joined by his son, Dr.- Ing. Jochen Friedrich Kirchhoff, as co-proprietor in the company. From hot-water central heating the path leads to electrical space heating and the series production of thermal storage heating units with dynamic discharge.

1960 For the second time in its 175-year existence, the company moves to beyond the city limits. A new production plant for manufacturing electric heaters is built in the Iserlohn Heide. The subsidiary "WITTE Heiztechnik GmbH" is founded for development, engineering, and sales.

1975 The company division "Hand Tools" also gets a new production plant in the Iserlohn Heide. With a daily capacity of 20,000 screwdrivers, WITTE becomes one of the most important manufacturers in Europe.

1980 WITTE begins with the production of inserting tools, so-called "bits" for electric drilling machines, and in 1986 acquires a new 10,000 m² production factory for the increasingly successful company division "WITTE Werkzeuge" on a 60,000 m² piece of property in Hagen.

1981 The company takes the third big leap in its history, this time into a new Iserlohn industrial park. Due to increasing lack of space and various environmental protection constraints, the company management has already decided to give up its site in the Iserlohn inner city in 1979, and relinquish the production of electrical units, in order to concentrate the company' s entire financial resources in building a new pressing plant. The capacity and customer spectrum for the automotive industry can be extensively expanded on grounds of about 100,000 m² with about 40,000 m² production floor space, and the machining facilities are now geared to the demands of the future.

1984 The company owner, Dr.-Ing. Jochen F. Kirchhoff, and his wife acquire all the shares of Mathias Kutsch GmbH & Co. KG in Attendorn, thus achieving an ideal supplement to the company group. Whereas WITTE produced with presses of up to 5,000 t pressing power and 12 m table length, primarily working for the commercial vehicle industry and the excavator, railroad car, and mechanical engineering industries, Kutsch mainly operates for passenger car manufacturers and the armature industry with machines of 50 to 400 t and 2 m table length.

1993 Acquisition of the company Gametal company in Portugal, today KIRCHHOFF Portugal, and Sigro in Olpe, with the KIRCHHOFF plant in Ireland

1994 Acquisition of the FAUN Umwelttechnik Deutschland with plants in Belgium, France, Poland and Switzerland

1995 Foundation of FAUN Municipal Vehicles in Wales/ Great Britain

1997 Foundation of KIRCHHOFF Mexicana, Puebla/Mexico

1998 Foundation of KIRCHHOFF Polska in Mielec/Poland

1999 Foundation of the Joint Venture Van Rob/KIRCHHOFF (VRK) in Querétaro/Mexico

2000 Foundation of KIRCHHOFF España in Zaragoza/Spain

2001 Foundation of the Joint Venture Witte-Urrea Guadalajara/Mexico

2004 Foundation of KIRCHHOFF Hungária, Esztergom/ Hungary Opening of the Plant KIRCHHOFF Polska Assembly I, Gleiwitz/Poland

2005 Acquisition of the company SOEC company in Ymeray/France. New construction of the KIRCHHOFF Polska Assembly II plant in Gleiwitz/Poland

2006 Acquisition of REHA Group Automotive, Hilden with a plant in Poland, foundation of KIRCHHOFF Automotive China in Suzhou

2007 New construction of the KIRCHHOFF Automotive China press shop in Suzhou. New construction of press shop KIRCHHOFF Hungária, Esztergom/ Hungary

2008 New construction of the tool shop KIRCHHOFF Polska. Mielec/Poland

2009 New construction of the 2nd plant of KIRCHHOFF Automotive China in Chongqing

2010 Opening of the Sales & TD Office in Hamamatsu/ Japan

             225th anniversary of the KIRCHHOFF Group

2011 Takeover of the majority shares of Van-Rob North America

2014 The KIRCHHOFF Group has 46 factories in 16 countries

Future: The Management  by Dr. Jochen F. Kirchhoff and his sons Arndt G., Dr. Johannes F. and J. Wolfgang Kirchhoff guarantees its successful advancement in the sense of 225 years old tradition.