German toolmaker Karl Marbach GmbH & Co. KG is celebrating 100 years in business in 2023. The following is a condensed version of information provided by the company in anticipation of its July anniversary.
Marbach has progressed during the past century from a three-person mechanical workshop to a global industry player employing 1,600 workers making die-cutting and thermoforming tools for packaging.
Despite Germany's hyperinflation and economic collapse following World War I, Karl Marbach Sr. founded the company in July 1923 with two partners, making manual top knives for the shoe industry. After economic conditions forced the firm to suspend operations in its very first year, Marbach restarted the company on his own in 1925 making steel rule dies.
During the Second World War, Marbach made much-needed tools for the sealing industry for engines, transmissions and pumps — despite being bombed out of two facilities and into an old cattle shed where what was left of the company became a locksmith's workshop.
After the war, the company was forced to start over — again — making steel rule dies and cutting dies. Ten years later, Karl Marbach Jr. left his position at IBM to join his father's business in 1955, and by 1957 Marbach expanded by starting its own thermoforming tool department.
In 1972, Marbach invested in Europe's first computer numerically controlled CO2 laser cutting system for cutting-die production. The company continued to pioneer innovations and today holds more than 100 patents.
The Heilbronn, Germany-based company began expanding internationally in 1984 and has become a key partner for the global packaging industry, with more than 20 production and sales subsidiaries as well as joint ventures and franchising partners.
The third generation of the family business, represented by managing partner Peter Marbach, came on board in 1988 and joined the management team four years later.
In 2012, the company established Marbach America Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., and in 2019, invested more than $4 million to open a plant in Michigan City, Ind. Also in North America, Marbach has a tool and die facility in Elkhart, Ind., and a subsidiary, Marbach Die Supplies, in Querétaro, Mexico.