History of the Kirchdorfer Group

“History does not only refer to what happened but also to what has been accumulated – that is to say, the ground which we stand and build on.”

1888 – it all starts with a railway

Emil Dierzer Ritter von Traunthal and Adolf Hofmann from Linz, joint owner of Linzer Mühlen mills and a food factory, commission the construction of the Kremstalbahn railway, which takes up service in 1881. Over the course of the construction work, limestone and calcareous marlstone are discovered in the upper Kremstal valley.

Dierzer and Hofmann know how to make use of this profitable synergy. For the cement works, however, comprehensive planning and preparatory work is needed. First, the raw material base is secured and a property rich in calcareous marlstone acquired.

On April 1, 1887, the company Cementwerk Kirchdorf, Hofmann & Comp. applies for a concession for the construction of a cement plant at the district commission of Kirchdorf.

Construction negotiations proceed to the utmost satisfaction: the concession is granted rapidly with the aim of promoting the positive development of a structurally weak area.

Construction work begins immediately, and on July 24, 1888, “Portland-Cementwerk Kirchdorf, Hofmann & Comp.” is registered in the company register.

Development shows a steep upwards trend: after 125 years, the 20 millionth ton of cement was produced and delivered to customers in June 2013.


1930s – from cement to concrete

In the first years, construction sites in Vienna and Salzburg are already supplied with cement. This successful development is enhanced by ongoing investments. From 1892 to 1912 three more Dietzsch storey furnaces go into operation, and in 1908 electricity starts its success story thanks to the Steyrdurchbruch power plant.

With the spun concrete plant, the first step is taken from raw materials to the finished product. In summer 1932, the first ready for use mast bases made of spun concrete are produced, the company management acquires the patent and authorization to be the sole manufacturer in Austria. In the year of its establishment in 1933, about 800 mast bases are produced for the mounting of wooden pylons.


1950s – The Kirchdorfer cement plant gets off to a dream start

From the end of the 1940s, cement production is steadily increasing. 1952 marks a major improvement for the almost 300 employees.

A “Gefolgschaftshaus” building with common rooms, washing rooms and showers is erected. It quickly turns into a social meeting place.

The run on products for reconstruction in the aftermath of the war calls for large-scale investments: in March 1957, Austria’s first rotary kiln for cement production including technical facilities (mixing plants, round silos, conveyors, drying and grinding plants for coal) is brought into service.

The Kirchdorfer cement plant demonstrates pioneering spirit in the matter of environmental protection as early as in 1958: the first electric filters almost entirely reduce dust emissions. This path is pursued in the 1960s with the increased use of gas instead of coal and district heating provided for the town of Kirchdorf.

In order to cope with the continuous growth, more money is invested in new equipment: a combined drying and grinding plant, a gas-fired thermal power plant, a steam turbine plant and the rotary kiln II, just to name a few. In 1964, more than 200,000 tons of cement are produced for the first time in a year. With the introduction of paper instead of jute bags the “Kirchdorfer Löwe” lion makes its first appearance. To this day, the lion symbolizes strength and perseverance.


1970s – strong partner on board

The 1970s are years of constant change. It all starts with a large-scale investment: one of central Europe’s most modern spun concrete plants is built for a total of 32 million schillings (more than 2.3 million Euros) in Micheldorf – fittingly it is entirely made of concrete, thus  taking into account the increasing demand for concrete masts.

In January 1976, the course for the Kirchdorfer Zementwerk cement works is set anew. Perlmooser Zementwerke, a group with several cement works operating at a national level, takes over 48% of its shares. In 1992, a large block of shares of Perlmooser AG is sold to the Lafarge group, one of the largest cement manufacturers worldwide. In Austria, this new shareholder focuses on the core cement business, which results in an unbundling of the area of diversification of the Kirchdorfer group in 1995.

This provides the basis for the expansion course of the Kirchdorfer group.


1980s – visionary and innovator

As of 1 January 1980, Max I. Machanek joins the Kirchdorfer cement plant as authorized signatory. He is committed to the company and enjoys the shareholders’ trust. The rest is a mere matter of form: In a shareholders’ resolution he is unanimously appointed manager as of 1 January 1981. He was the first family member holding a leading position in the company management after so many years

With Machanek at executive level, the dynamics of the company changes significantly – he brings a breeze of fresh air, has leadership qualities and is an excellent negotiator. This marks the start of a new era characterized by diversification, start-ups and investments. For more than 20 years Max I. Machanek has been the leading figure who turns the Kirchdorfer group into a dynamic business with qualitative and quantitative growth. In 2000, a total group turnover of more than 1 billion schillings is made with over 1,000 employees. On April 3, 2004 , Max I. Machanek dies aged only 56 after battling a long and painful illness.


1983 – now is the time to add color

Diversification sets in in 1983 with the acquisition of long-standing Schreibwarenfabrik Brevillier-Urban, manufacturer of stationery in Graz-Gösting. Now the well-known Jolly brand has a future again. In addition to crayons and graphite pencils, the wide range of products includes primarily wax crayons, ballpoints, felt-tip pens, ink pens, artists’ colors, the artists’ program Talens and cosmetic products.

The driving force behind this investment is Max I. Machanek: after close examination of the business, he makes large-scale investments, strengthens sales and distribution and motivates employees. The result: within one year, Jolly is in the black again.

In order to concentrate exclusively on its core cement and concrete businesses in the future, the Kirchdorfer group parts with the traditional brand almost a quarter of a century after its acquisition. In 2007, the Imarco group becomes the new owner of Jolly.


1984 – new perspectives with precast elements

The history of MABA goes back to 1924: the first concrete goods are manufactured in Wöllersdorf in Lower Austria. The 1950s mark the beginning of a success story with reinforced concrete, which continues well into the 1960s with special components, rationalization and new production processes.

On an appropriate occasion, the Kirchdorfer cement plant seizes its chance: it takes over the company, with the new Kommanditgesellschaft MABA Betonwaren Gesellschaft m.b.H. & Co. KG being registered in the company register in Wiener Neustadt on May 16, 1984: this marks the entry into the world of precast concrete industry.

The purchase of MABA is attractive for the Kirchdorfer cement plant in many respects: on the one hand, it presents a reasonable addition to the spun concrete plant creating new market potential. On the other hand, MABA is member of the Verband österreichischer Beton- und Fertigteilwerke [Austrian Concrete and Precast Concrete Association] – an excellent network promoting synergies and innovation.

Today, MABA Fertigteilindustrie GmbH is Austria’s largest manufacturer of precast elements in its market segment. 250 employees and a broad product portfolio guarantee ideal solutions for a wide range of applications. Mobile and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities allow for an efficient handling of high-volume production.

The core business of the company are stairs, residential system solutions, road construction, structures /spun concrete products, civil engineering /large-scale and environmental projects.

Product lines that are developed with customers in the fields of tunnel and road construction / noise protection expand the range of services on a continuous basis. Up and coming are environmental products, such as the fish migration aid enature® fishpass.

Another recent example of the high level of expertise and maximum quality of processing are precast elements for wind power plants, which are made from high-strength, self-compacting special concrete.


1990s – Expanze!
(Czech for expansion)

The Kirchdorfer group is changing further – and not only within Austria’s borders: at the end of 1992, after several negotiation rounds, 80% of the company shares of Kámen a písek in the Czech city of Crumlaw are purchased, laying the foundation of the raw materials sector. The company has several stone quarries in the south of Bohemia.

Continuous investments, innovative products and a strong customer focus make Kámen a písek one of the leaders in the sector. In addition to operating stone quarries, the affiliated company ČR Beton Bohemia manufactures ready-mixed concrete, reinforcements and concrete blocks, and also offers construction services.


1998 – Maba pre-fabricated house

In 1998, the Kirchdorfer group enters in the business segment of pre-fabricated houses together with MABA, opening a new chapter in the history of the company. The key to this decision lies in the development of the solid building material “Ziegelit®”.

The Eurohaus brand is taken over. Six years later and following on relocation, the MABA Fertighaus GmbH comes into being – a 100% subsidiary company of the Kirchdorfer group.

The Maba pre-fabricated house is unique as far as its solid construction made of Ziegelit® or Liapor is concerned. Several certification marks confirm its outstanding structural and physical properties. From the core and shell construction to the house ready for occupation: given that all solid components are manufactured by MABA, customers can choose freely between various stages of construction. Maba prefabricated houses are robust, of stable value, secure and built to last for generations: the criteria to measure this success are a total of 6,500 satisfied residents.


1999 – stepping beyond the border

The successful development of Kámen a písek gives the Kirchdorfer group the necessary tailwind to continue on its expansion course: in 1999, several activities both in Austria and abroad are launched in the raw materials sector. In addition to the Czech Republic, companies are operating in Hungary, Rumania, Serbia and Bulgaria in the areas of sand, gravel, natural stone and ready-mixed concrete.

In Austria too, the market position is gradually being strengthened. Two milestones are the founding of Martini Beton and the joining of WIBAU. This long-standing company was founded as an industrial and provident society in 1946, with the aim of supplying the construction sector with affordable raw materials. Under WIBAU holding company operate several renowned businesses from Upper Austria. The Kirchdorfer group holds a share in the following: WIBAU Kies und Beton, WIBAU Gerüstbau and Rems Beton.

As of 2013, in the wake of the acquisition of a majority stake in WIBAU, the Kirchdorfer group is prominent in the area of sand, gravel and ready-mixed concrete in Upper Austria too.

WIBAU is in the lead in particular in the field of environmental protection: the companies UWT Umwelttechnik and BRG Bauschutt Recycling recycle construction waste, thus making a direct contribution to environmental protection.

The 1990s are eventful years for the Kirchdorfer cement plant too: a lot of money is invested in productivity, quality and environmental protection to reduce emissions and improve noise protection. A new low NOX burner system and a new kiln control system ensure emission reduction of the greenhouse gas CO2, whilst improving the quality of life of the inhabitants of Kirchdorf significantly. 


2000 – International activities

The turn of the new millennium marks another growth period for the Kirchdorfer group: 50% of Rauter Fertigteilbau is acquired in 2000. The company manufactures and assembles precast concrete components for structural engineering, commercial and industrial construction as well as special prefabricated components.

In the same year, another gem of the Kirchdorfer group is founded: DELTA BLOC International. By now, the leading developer and manufacturer of precast concrete vehicle restraint systems is present, either directly or through its license partners, in more than 30 countries on five continents.

DELTABLOC® safety barriers make a substantial contribution towards increasing road safety. In Austria alone, such vehicle restraint systems prevent serious consequences in about 300 to 400 collisions per year.

More than 20 patents, utility models and developments based on expertise gained in more than 100 crash tests characterize these internationally renowned high-tech products.


2004 – strategist with vision

Early on, Max I. Machanek grooms his successor: Erich Frommwald, his assistant for many years, gradually grows into the role as a leader. In 1994, Frommwald joins the company and, initially, attends primarily to the subsidiary companies.

He takes over more and more tasks. When Max I. Machanek dies in 2004, the transition in management is hence smooth. Continuity in its strategic orientation combined with new ideas secure dynamic growth of the company.

Erich Frommwald restructures the group further pursuing the expansion course. Of particular importance to him are the employees’ personal responsibility and a corporate culture guided by values – factors that are vital for the success of the Kirchdorfer group. 


2005 – civil engineering gains new heights

MABA Fertigteilindustrie GmbH purchases a majority stake in the Bauer Betonwerk concrete plant in the east of Styria. This company manufactures precast concrete components for sewer construction, civil engineering and road construction. In 2006, it holds 100% of the shares, with the company being incorporated into TIBA.

TIBA is founded in 2005, with the aim of bringing together activities in the areas of pipe systems, road and building drainage as well as environmental engineering.

Today, TIBA Austria is a leading company supplying both Austria and Slovenia with a broad range of concrete products. Sewage treatment plants, separator systems, sewer shafts, containers, shaft rings and covers as well as road gullies are manufactured at four locations. With its customized solutions for building projects, TIBA Austria has gained an excellent reputation in this sector.


2006 / 2007 – back to the roots

2006 and 2007 see a number of improvements at organizational level in particular.

On the initiative of Erich Frommwald, the entire group is put on a new footing. The three holding companies operating in the cement, raw materials and precast products & prefabricated houses sectors make it easier for operative units to concentrate on their core business. Overarching functions, such as accounting, payroll administration, EDP, staff and legal issues, controlling, etc. are the task of the parent company.

Such an efficient structure provides the basis for further growth. An example of this is the foundation of MABA TRACK SOLUTIONS on January 1, 2007. The company has a production capacity of approximately 200,000 sleepers per year.

The year 2007 marks a milestone, with corporate headquarters being relocated from Linz to Kirchdorf, where it all began. Especially customers profit from short distances in one place. Moreover, this investment upgrades the image of the location and is a positive sign for the area, as is symbolized by the prominent outer façade: a human chain made of concrete represents both close links with each other and the surroundings. 


2010 / 2012 – the old and the new in perfect unity

The Kirchdorfer group thinks in generations and invests in economically difficult times too. In 2010, it acquires the Katzenberger Beton und Fertigteilwerke GmbH in Gerasdorf. Its products are an ideal addition to the Kirchdorfer group, in particular to the precast components sector for building construction. The acquisition of H. Katzenberger Beton- und Fertigteilwerke in Wiesing / Tyrol 2013 is backed up by a long-term plan: in the precast concrete components sector the inhabitants of Kirchdorf are now represented all over Austria, with distribution areas in the west of Austria, South Tyrol and Southern Germany.

Yet another milestone is the opening of a new administrative headquarters in Wöllersdorf on May 23, 2012. The history of the grounds goes back to 1815, when they housed an ammunition factory. The listed building undergoes major renovation work and is revitalized with love for detail. Behind the spectacular façade all in white, several floor ceilings equipped with state-of-the-art technology for 150 workplaces are installed. A marriage of modern and tradition: the special ambience is perceivable at every turn. The former ammunition factory has been linked to the history of the Kirchdorfer group for many years, and has been revived to its former glory with respect for tradition and nature – lived corporate philosophy of the Kirchdorfer group.


2013 – on the path to global success

Today, 125 years after its foundation, the Kirchdorfer group operates worldwide. Its successful path has led the group to 13 European countries, and further to Africa and Asia. The private company is characterized by dynamic growth and continuous expansion of its three product fields “cement, raw materials as well as precast products & prefabricated houses.”