Anton Waldner - human momentum par excellence
This month marks the 25th anniversary of Anton Waldner's death. Anton Waldner was not only the "father" of the “Milchpilze” - he was much more: a pioneer, a free spirit, a thinker around corners, a doer and an entrepreneur with a heart. A portrait - on this occasion.
Anton Waldner’s playmates realized from a very early age that one day he would be someone special. They admired him for his ability “to tell the difference between male and female hares even then”. This at least is what a friend from his youth, Hans Maier from downtown Wangen, reports. However, it was to take a while until he achieved great business success. The pre-conditions for this were energy, hard work, lots of good ideas and assertiveness. He had all of these in abundance. His “good nose” for real opportunities and his excellent knowledge of people were the basis for the rapid expansion of the company in the future
And let us not forget his great affinity with the dairy industry. No sooner had he completed his training in 1934 than he began to look around in the business world. The regional business field of his parents’ company soon became too small for him and he set out on his long period of travels. He visited cheese dairies, first in Württemberg and Baden, then all over the German Empire, as it was at that time. Numerous devices for the milk and cheese industry were soon added to the product range of the “plumber’s workshop”, which had meanwhile grown to a respectable size. The fact that Waldner products from the pre-war period were still in use in East German dairies after reunification proves how successful he was and how highly developed and robust the products must have been.
Milk - the gold of the Allgäu
Anton Waldner was an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word. He never failed to take advantage of a promising opportunity. “All for milk” became his business principle. He was quick to realize that the dairy industry is a sector that is relatively independent of the economy. Two of his key phrases were “People eat every day, especially cheese” and “Cow juice flows every day and has to be processed every day”, which show simply but clearly that this sector was concentrated on with great success at an early stage.
The Second World War ended the rapid expansion of the company for the time being. Starting again afterwards was difficult. A wealth of ideas, organizational talent and courage were required to keep the business going in times of material shortages and the restrictions imposed by the occupying powers and occupied zones. Unusual procurement and sales methods had to be employed. Bartering was inevitable. And as trade between the occupied zones was not possible, a branch was quickly founded in Buchloe on the site of a partner firm, the Karwendel milk factory.
A new start with far-reaching changes
Many things changed as a result of the currency reform of 1948. Suddenly almost everything that had previously seemed unattainable was available again. Anton Waldner, his cousin Franz, the authorized signatory Müller and Ludwig Kofler, the later Managing Director of the laboratory furniture division, put their 40 DM “bounty” from the state together and used the money to print brochures which were sent to former customers. An unusual sign of company loyalty which still applies to Waldner employees today. The term “Waldner family” has survived to the present day and is actively promoted.
The plumber’s workshop in down-town Wangen had long since become too small. The company moved to the current location. In the following decades, the company experienced strong growth. The laboratory furniture division was built up and soon developed into the sector with the highest turnover. Subsidiaries were founded at home and abroad. In the area of cheese-making technology, Waldner became the leading manufacturer of complete soft cheese lines. Pressure and batching tanks as well as high-tech processing plants for the chemical-pharmaceutical industry were developed as further mainstays of the business. The packaging machine sector experienced a rapid upswing and has become one of the most profitable divisions of the company.
New structure for the successful model
The company structure was adapted to this development. The traditional plumbing sector, the metal department and the business field of laboratory furniture each became legally independent, with their own operative management. After the death of Anton Waldner in 1998, control of the company passed to eight executives and persons of trust. The plumber’s workshop was sold to its Managing Director by way of a management buy-out and the other companies were combined under the roof of a holding company.
What remains of Anton Waldner is not only a flourishing and growing company, but he also leaves us his entrepreneurial DNA: his courage to take risks, his nose for opportunities and his unconditional demand for quality. His motto was always "hard work should pay off" and "I have enough and can give it to others". These social thoughts can still be found today in our training concept and the social commitment of the Waldner Group.
The Waldner company is gearing up for the future
Waldner develops into a group of companies with different, yet interlocking business areas. Through the purchase of Hohenloher Spezialmöbel, the education product line is stringently developed further. Other additions to the group of companies such as HAS Technologie (Process Systems), GD Waldner in India (steel laboratory furniture) or most recently the Laboratory Systems Group in Australia strengthen the product portfolio and would make Anton Waldner's entrepreneurial heart swell with pride.
In the meantime, Waldner's products are making ground-breaking contributions to nutrition, health and education - in diverse industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to research and development to food and pet food. In our more than 100-year history, we have developed into a globally sought-after partner. Behind the successful transformation into a globally active technology company are 1,600 innovative people worldwide - and the entrepreneurial legacy of Anton Waldner.