From a file cutting workshop to a tool specialist – A company history stretching back over 50 years
In 1960, when Albert Knebel manufactured the first carbide-tipped circular saw blade in his father’s file cutting workshop in Engstlatt in Balingen, the chances are that neither he nor his five employees would have ever thought that, over the next fifty years, the enterprise they were starting would grow into a company operating worldwide with 500 employees. Things were difficult to start with – Albert’s small workshop, which had an annual turnover of just 25,000 East German marks in 1961, had to fight for survival on more than one occasion.
It was not until the end of the 1960s that things started to look up, when carbide-tipped saw blades began to boom in the wood industry and, at the same time, several field service employees left a large competitor to start working for A. Knebel Werkzeugfabrik. At the time, carbide saws were still extremely expensive. In 1968, an alternate top bevel saw with a diameter of 300 mm and 96 teeth was worth 190.00 marks. For comparison, the standard wage at the time was 350.75 marks per month.
The money brought in by these successes was invested in new employees and machines and, in 1971, a new building in Hölzlestraße. This was followed by the founding of a subsidiary in Herford and the first overseas subsidiary in Strasbourg. By 1975, existing grinding machines were no longer good enough to manufacture tools to the level of quality expected by A|K|E, prompting Albert Knebel to build his own “AKEmat” machines.
These machines were first built for use in-house by AKE Knebel, then later for customers throughout the world. Further milestones for the ambitious company were the introduction of laser cutting technology, the production of milling cutter saw blades and diamond saw blades and the establishment of further subsidiaries and a worldwide network of partners. Several patents and trailblazing innovations, such as the Mustang solid wood circular saw blades or the Bombastic circular saw blades for machining aluminium, significantly boosted the market position of the company. Albert Knebel handed over the reins of the company to his son, Alexander Knebel, at the start of the new millennium, laying the foundations for the continuing success story of this family company.
1960 Foundation of AKE Knebel
1975 Foundation of AKE France
1980 Foundation of AKE Knebel & Forster
1990 Foundation of AKE Bernau and AKE Hungary
1995 Foundation of AKE Rietberg
1997 Purchase of WAGNER saw blade manufacturing
1999 Foundation of AKE Romania
2002 Foundation of AKE Poland
2004 Thermoface environmental protection award, foundation of AKE UK
… to success
2006 Foundation of AKE Technology Thailand
2006 Foundation AKE China
2007 Consolidation of Bad Oeynhausen and Rietberg subsidiaries
2008 Foundation of AKE Czech Republic and AKE RUS
2009 Exclusive CMT Partner in Germany
2010 50th anniversary of the company
2011 Foundation of AKE Woodtech Malaysia
2013 Awarded the LIGNA Innovation Prize
2014 Awarded the Red Dot Award, awarded the VR Innovation Prize