German injection molding machinery maker Arburg GmbH & Co. KG on Nov. 28 announced the death of senior partner Karl Hehl, who together with his brother Eugen turned the family engineering business into the international organization it is today.
Karl Hehl's influence as a technical specialist was decisive in shaping the family-run machinery business for more than six dec- ades. He served many years as chairman of the Arburg management board and until recently played an active role as an advisory partner.
Karl Hehl received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his work and, together with brother Eugen, held the Society of Plastics Engineers' Business Management Award for their lifetime achievement.
Aside from his technical contribution, it was Hehl who came up with the Arburg name in 1943. Then the company began to move away from its original roots as a small mker of surgical instruments to produce much-needed consumer goods for the German economy in the immediate post-war period.
It was this growing consumer goods market that pulled the company into the injection machinery business. In 1950, the company began manufacturing camera flash units but was experiencing problems in achieving reliable electrical insulation on the connector plug.
Hehl designed a simple injection molding machine to encapsulate the connector plugs in 1954. Two years later, the company began series production of these machines with 10 employees.
Arburg continues to manufacture all of its machines at Lossburg in Germany's Black Forest. Today, however, it has wholly-owned sales operations in 24 countries around the world.
Hehl died unexpectedly. In a statement, the company said: In Karl Hehl, Arburg and the entire industry has lost an extraordinary character, business man and pioneer. The partners, management and staff will always hold his memory in great esteem and will continue to work according to his principles.