In 1870, a machine manufacturer from Aachen by the name of Johann Michel Joseph Fecken founded the company Fecken-Kirfel. This young engineer received generous financial support from his father-in-law, Mr. Kirfel, hence the company’s present name.
Fecken-Kirfel’s first venture involved producing machines for manufacturing cloth and spinning wool, as well as “locomobile steam engines” with an output of 2–30 HP. In the years that followed, the company’s portfolio expanded to include machine tools. The production range has been in a state of constant development ever since, extending from manually operated leather processing machines to fully automatic splitting and cutting machines for the plastic, rubber, and cork industries, which is now the company’s sole focus.
The company was taken over by Aachen-based businessman Karl Haschke in 1905, whose death in 1918 marked a new era in the company’s history: It saw Fecken-Kirfel transform from the traditional company it once was into a successful family business. In 1919, Hermann Schiffler, a qualified engineer from Aachen, became a new company shareholder, deciding to keep the company’s existing name as it was already an established well-known brand. As early as 1921, Fecken-Kirfel had as many as 50 employees and an extensive facility complete with a whole host of turning, drilling, planning, and milling machines.
After Hermann’s death in 1954, it fell to his wife Anna to take the reins, having already been active in the company since 1917. The second generation of the family came to the fore in 1969, with their three sons Helmut, Robert, and Dr. Rudolf Schiffler taking over the ownership and management of the company. Following the death of Robert in 2000, Helmut and Rudolf Schiffler set - together with the 3rd generation, Dagmar Schiffler, Claus Schiffler, Jutta Rollinger and Dr. Christa Rübben - impulses determining the general strategy and the development of Fecken-Kirfel.
Fecken-Kirfel was originally situated in front of Jacobsthor gate in Aachen, although its address was set to change a number of times. In 1938, Hermann Schiffler – who had become the sole owner of Fecken-Kirfel – relocated the production facility to its present site, which was formally renamed in 1993 at a ceremony attended by the Czech ambassador of the time on the initiative of Fecken-Kirfel. Its new name was “Prager Ring” for the Czech capital and this is still the company’s headquarters.
Hermann Schiffler guided the company through the turmoil of the Second World War, despite workers being taken from the company after he refused to join the Nazi Party. In 1944, the production building only just managed to survive an incendiary bomb attack. Once the war was over, production was able to resume with just a few employees.
The 1970s marked a period of significant growth, with the number of employees jumping to over 200 and the production process consistently increasing in size. Three new crane halls were added to the original building for dealing with dispatch, mechanical production, and assembling. An office building was built in 1969, with additional crane halls built throughout the 1970s and 80s along with a sawmill and the first section of a fifth crane hall for the assembling.
Fecken-Kirfel had an international focus as early as the 1950s. At that time, the company specialized in the production of splitting and cutting machines, but Fecken-Kirfel soon made a name for itself as a real pioneer when it came to developing new technologies for machines in the plastic, rubber, and cork industries.
In 1974, the company founded its 100% subsidiary, Fecken-Kirfel America Inc. in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, USA, followed shortly after by its own production facility at its current US site at Leighton Place in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Fast forward to 1986 and Fecken-Kirfel had acquired additional land at its headquarters in Aachen to guarantee adequate space for the company’s future expansion. It is thanks to this acquisition that the sawmill and bandknife production crane hall, not forgetting the assembly hall, could ultimately be expanded in two phases in 2004 and 2007 to include additional two-story buildings.
And with the construction of yet another two-story building complete for their employees and a production hall for a state-of-the-art powder-coating system in 2016, expansion at the Aachen site shows no signs of stopping.
Fecken-Kirfel has had a big number of patents and utility models registered since 1950 – including those for the development of the carousel splitting machine and the horizontal and vertical contour cutting machines – which have helped it on its way to becoming the industry’s leading technological pioneers.
In 2006, our long-standing Managing Partner Robert Schiffler was inducted posthumously into the “Flexible Polyurethane Foam Hall of Fame” by the Polyurethane Foam Association/USA (PFA) for his merits and outstanding performances services in the development of cutting machines for the foam industry.