The foundation of our company, the WENZEL Group with all its subsidiaries, goes back to our senior boss Werner Wenzel . He was a master toolmaker and originally wanted to start a machine building company in his hometown Heigenbrücken in 1968. But the community was anything but enthusiastic. Tourism was expected to do much more in our beautiful Spessart region, and Heigenbrücken wanted to avoid a permanent disturbance of the idyll by manufacturing industry. The neighboring community of Wiesthal had no objections and gave Werner Wenzel a plot of land.
The business idea was "precision measuring tools and testing equipment". To get started with our first three employees, Werner Wenzel built an assembly hall and an office building with an apartment on the second floor. The order situation was very good from the beginning, already in 1973 more than 30 employees were employed. The first buildings are still standing today, but they are only a part of today's total complex with 54,000 m² of land and 15,500 m² of building space (5,000 m² of which is air-conditioned), which literally disappears behind a large office wing and huge halls. In the former apartment with the children's room for daughter Heike, employees of the IT department, for example, are tinkering today.
Dr. Heike Wenzel is now the sole managing partner and characterizes her father as an "absolute visionary", "strong implementer", unshakable optimist" and "person who woke up every day with a new idea". Her mother Helga, on the other hand, was responsible for the financial side of things, did the bookkeeping - initially also for other businesses. She "didn't put the brakes on the father, but restrained him in the waves of implementation.
Werner Wenzel was an ambitious person. He had quit a permanent job in a mechanical engineering company and founded a company with rather small savings. Despite strong and traditional competition, he had ensured that the WENZEL Group always kept pace with the rapid technical development and developed, produced and sold high-quality measuring machines.
Today, WENZEL's response to the increasingly complex requirements of the markets, strong growth, progressive internationalisation and the expansion of the product portfolio of the largest family-run company in the metrology. The introduction of new technologies, the development of automation solutions and the reorientation of software development, was recognised twice in this decade with the award 'TOP 100 Innovators of German Medium-Sized Businesses'.
Our first years of operation were very successful, so that the first structural extensions were made as early as 1971. The equipment used was already among the most modern of its kind at that time (even if from today's point of view it seems a bit old-fashioned).
WENZEL was one of the few manufacturers worldwide able to supply components with an accuracy of less than 1 µm. As a trendsetter, we had recognized early on that granite as a base material for measuring machine construction guaranteed the highest precision and a long service life for reasons of its unique physical properties. Cast iron was gradually being displaced at this time.
The workforce grew continuously from 3 to 22 employees until 1973 and the turnover was already 1.5 million DM. At this time, the product range consisted of measuring cubes, test plates as well as angle/clamping and test tables. The company premises grew to 10,000 m2 and the building area was already 1,350 m2.
By the end of the 1970s, WENZEL had established itself as one of the leading manufacturers of precision measuring tools and was supplying them all over the world. We had already reached the mark of 60 employees and established our own development and contruction department.
Until 1973, the development of coordinate measuring technology was limited to 2D or 3Dmachines in column design. These were mainly used in car body metrology for measuring and marking out. Manufacturers in Germany were Stiefelmayer, Mora, WENZEL and Zettmess. Internationally, the companies Portage/Bendix, Poli, Trimek, ITP, and Brown&Sharpe were in this business. Later, the stand gauges (also called horizontal arm gaugesmeasuring machines ) were equipped with measuring head systems mainly from Renishaw.1)
In 1980, the time had come. At the Wiesthal site, we produced the first WENZEL 3D measuring and marking machines and thus started a success story that continues to this day. The positive response to the new development at home and abroad enabled WENZEL to continue expanding.
"I can still remember very well how proud my parents were of the first machines that left our factory," says Managing Director Dr. Heike Wenzel. "Innovation, close customer contact and the highest quality have been our goal and the driving force behind development and production since the first coordinate measuring machine - this understanding still motivates our employees and me every day!"
20 years after the company was founded, Werner Wenzel was able to look back proudly on the achievements to date in his celebratory speech. At that time, we were generating sales of over DM 16 million with 117 employees. Due to the expansion of Plant 1 in 1983, the company's building area had grown almost 20-fold.
In the meantime, the second generation of machines had already been designed and the product range expanded. At that time, the customers were mainly from the automotive and supplier industry, from the aerospace and mechanical engineering sectors. In order to meet the high demands of the customers, high investments were necessary. For example, 2.5 million DM were invested in a universal grinding machine, which is still doing its faithful service today.