100 years – twelve stories

In our anniversary year, we would like to tell you a little about the history of iwis. And this blog is no exception. It will feature twelve stories spread across the year, all of which are illustrations of ours company’s “striding ahead” character. Each story will highlight a different person or period in our eventful, and sometimes turbulent, company history; at the end of the series you will have been given a glimpse of the past, as well as events and occurrences from the ten decades of iwis existence that you may have been unaware of.

We, the iwis Management Board, hope you will enjoy what we are sure will be a lively and interesting journey through the history of the company.

1: Happiness is owning a bicycle

“Fascination” is the word that iwis founder Johann Baptist Winklhofer used to describe his first encounter with the bicycle, which really was a very “new-fangled contraption” back in 1869.

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2: One final phone call

Never miss an opportunity: that’s how Johann Baptist Winklhofer expressed his determination in February 1919. His last hopes of saving the “Maschinenfabrik”, depended on a final phone call to the management of his old company…

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3: Every chain sold counts

Conversion to production of peacetime goods, branching out and experimenting with new products, production of the first chains and reorganisation as a family company the “Roaring Twenties” certainly lived up to their name as far as iwis was concerned.

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4: Pulling together

Choice is not always restricted to “either…or”, but sometimes allows “not only…but also” instead. And that was Otto Winklhofer’s attitude, too.  When he joined "Joh. Winklhofer & Söhne" on 1. August 1933, he did not insist on running the entire Company on his own...

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5: Denunciation

The year 1933 left its mark on iwis, too. The company and the Winklhofer family had to clarify their position vis-à-vis the new ruling National Socialist regime – and initially came under attack.

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6: Success through curry combs

When American troops enter Munich on 30. April 1945, it’s also the dawn of a new era for iwis. The company is facing its next economic challenge – and adapts admirably to the prevalent market conditions.

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7: The quick fish in the big basin

The year is 1963, and it’s an evening to remember. The future of iwis is at stake. Sell up, or stand firm and carry on? This is the dilemma facing young Gerhard Winklhofer after a competitor has made him a lucrative offer to buy the company...

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8: The supermarket principle

The customer as king? In the USA, where Gerhard Winklhofer lived with his wife Traudl from 1961 to 1963, this service-oriented approach has long been established. And at iwis, too, the supermarket principle of the 1960s also means a new customer-oriented era ...

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9: The "Kinderkette"

What sounds like the name of an especially cute chain, is actually a nursery. Since its foundation in 1973, the “Kinderkette” has made it easier for iwis employees to reconcile career and family – particularly mothers working in the production department ...

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10: Learning as a principle

In 1984, Karl Carstens, then President of the Federal Republic, presents Gerhard Winklhofer with a certificate in recognition of the exemplary performance of iwis in the field of vocational training. At the same time, he is also honouring a personal success, because the Managing Partner of iwis has turned one particular topic into a guiding principle: basic and advanced training for his own workforce.

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11: World Champion chains

In the early 1990s, Gerhard Winklhofer can finally enjoy the results of many years of hard work: the company’s evolution from a precision chain manufacturer to a designer of entire timing drive systems is complete.

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12: Small but powerful

By the end of the 1990s, the big basin is no longer big enough for the small, quick fish. The opening of the iwis Engine Systems plant in Shanghai, China, in 2004 simply confirms what everyone has known for a long time: the family company from Bavaria has risen to become a “Global Player”. 

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iwis 100 Jahre