Success story since 1961

A future built on tradition

November 1961 saw the beginning of an unusual success story. At just 20 years of age, Reinhard Wirtgen set himself up as a self-employed road haulier with a single truck to his name. This step marks the birth of WIRTGEN GmbH.

Since then, that one-man company has blossomed into a construction machinery specialist of international renown and a central pillar of the WIRTGEN GROUP.

Reinhard Wirtgen, Founder of the compay

Reinhard Wirtgen, Founder of the compay

A passion for road construction and mining, know-how and experience acquired through a pioneering spirit, a driving desire to innovate and find the right solutions for customers time and again: these are the qualities that permeate the history of WIRTGEN GmbH. The family-run company successively expanded its product range, morphing from a pure service provider into a manufacturer of construction machinery and the world market leader in cold milling machines, recyclers, soil stabilizers and surface miners.

Pioneering spirit – The 1960s

The first steps are always the hardest, but after a few early successes, the ambitious pioneer soon had a reliable team he could depend on. His ten employees eagerly supported him and shared his visions: outstanding machines, innovative technologies, premium services in road construction. His customers placed their trust in him and Wirtgen began to pave the way along its road to success.

  • Establishment of WIRTGEN GmbH as a service provider
  • Use of company-developed concrete breaking machine in road construction

Revolution on the road – The 1970s

What followed then were initial successes with a concrete breaking machine, some determined tinkering and a never-ending search for new solutions. The early 1970s saw the emergence of "a modern-day monster before which even stone crumbles", as a headline in the daily press read: the road milling machine was born. Milling was introduced as a standard process in tender invitations and was soon an acknowledged method in road rehabilitation, too.

Following on the heels of hot milling machines, cold milling machines emerged as the next stage of development in the late 1970s – machines which could for the first time mill asphalt without pre-heating it. But the founder of the company was still far from satisfied. He was searching for a way to rehabilitate entire surface courses. His idea was to reuse the damaged pavement right there and then on the job site. Hot recycling – and later cold recycling – caused a stir in the industry. This cutting-edge, environmentally friendly process enabled road construction companies to operate extremely cost-efficiently.

WIRTGEN technologies were in great demand – in Germany and beyond. It was at this time that the small-to-medium-sized company began to internationalize its operations, establishing its own subsidiaries in Europe. Overseas operations became commonplace for Wirtgen machines – be it in the USA, Brazil, China or India.

  • Expansion of the fleet of milling machines.
  • Cold milling is introduced as a standard process in tender invitations for road rehabilitation. Meanwhile, hot recycling is developed as a second rehabilitation method.
  • Establishment of the first international subsidiaries in Europe.

New solutions, a new business sector – The 1980s

WIRTGEN established itself as the world market leader for road milling machines in the early 1980s. The company's sights remained set on its objective to offer customers an appropriate solution for each individual application. Meanwhile, the number of requests for quote was rising steadily. New challenges spurred the company on. By the mid-1980s, the construction machinery specialist boasted a range of machines unmatched in the industry. In fact, even at this time, milling and cutting technology was already one of WIRTGEN's core competencies.

With all of this know-how and far-reaching experience behind it, it was more or less a logical move for the company to diversify into a brand new area of application. And so, all of a sudden, the watchword was: a "milling machine" that can cut mountains. WIRTGEN branched out into open-cast mining. With its surface miners, as they were known, mine operators could extract large quantities of useful minerals, operating selectively and highly economically. This new technology offered an alternative to the conventional methods of drilling and blasting. And indeed, surface mining technology became increasingly popular in the course of the following decades. Today, surface mining has become indispensable in open-cast mining. Here, too, Wirtgen leads the field as a recognized applications specialist.

As a result, the product range had grown further by the end of the 1980s. As if this were not enough, another development was in the offing. Up to this time, WIRTGEN had focused on the rehabilitation of asphalt roads. However, when it took over the slipform paver product line of a Belgian company, the company embarked on yet another new line of business – the construction of concrete roadways and monolithic profiles – extending the range of applications once again.

  • WIRTGEN stops operating as a service provider and focuses on the production of construction machines
  • Systematic expansion of the product range to comprise four professional product divisions and technologies: milling, cold recycling and soil stabilization, concrete paving and surface mining. After launching its surface miners, WIRTGEN first begins to offer solutions for open-cast mining and routing in hard rock alongside road construction
  • Set-up of international sales and service

New family members and the expansion of sales and service – The 1990s

With its product divisions road milling machines, cold and hot recyclers and soil stabilizers, slipform pavers and surface miners, WIRTGEN was already a major international manufacturer of construction machinery by the mid-1990s. It had long been the plan of founder Reinhard Wirtgen to develop the company into a full-range supplier of mobile machines for road construction and rehabilitation. After taking over the management of the company in 1997, his sons Jürgen Wirtgen and Stefan Wirtgen transformed this vision into reality.

To this end, they successively merged their company with the renowned manufacturers Joseph VÖGELE AG and HAMM AG to form the WIRTGEN GROUP. The formation of the Group brought a decisive competitive edge, as there had so far only been a handful of full-line suppliers of mobile road construction machines worldwide.

Back in the 1980s, WIRTGEN had invested in the expansion of its sales and service network in order to best meet the rising requirements worldwide. These efforts were redoubled with the merger that formed the WIRTGEN GROUP. Subsidiaries were set up on every continent while the dealer network continued to grow. Meanwhile, the comprehensive service – so greatly appreciated by customers – was also expanded to include many new service options. With subsidiaries located around the globe, WIRTGEN was able to provide even speedier on-site assistance. The combination of customized machine solutions and genuine proximity to the customer opened up new markets to WIRTGEN all around the world.

  • WIRTGEN, VÖGELE and HAMM merge to form the WIRTGEN GROUP, greatly extending the range of mobile road construction and rehabilitation machines
  • Expansion of the three German brand headquarters and the international sales and service network

New potential – The 2000s

The start of the new millennium was very much an era of innovative machines and cutting-edge process technologies. WIRTGEN focused on consolidating its leading position in milling, cold recycling and mining and on acquiring new shares in the concrete paving market. In this way, WIRTGEN extended its range of cold milling machines, launching an entirely new generation of small milling machines. At the same time, the state-of-the-art machine technology and innovative features of the company's small and large milling machines raised cold milling to a whole new level.

During this phase of great innovation, WIRTGEN also continually extended the recycler and soil stabilizer product division for in-situ or in-plant cold recycling applications. Thanks to these new developments, WIRTGEN was perfectly positioned to extend its market-leading position in this segment in the years up to 2005 – from the mobile cold recycling mixing plant to the wheeled and tracked recyclers and the wheeled soil stabilizers. Similarly, WIRTGEN also rounded off the range of slipform pavers for concrete paving.

WIRTGEN then went on to develop the most powerful machine in the surface mining product division – the new 4200 SM – testifying to its decades of mining competence. Starting out as a niche technology, surface mining developed into the main mining method for useful minerals in many different locations.

Meanwhile, WIRTGEN GmbH made further investments in its brand headquarters in Windhagen. It gained a new assembly plant, a plant for special-purpose machinery, a new administrative building and other infrastructural facilities.

Between 2006 and 2010, Jürgen Wirtgen and Stefan Wirtgen proceeded with their growth strategy. Aiming to harness potential in the future, too – beyond the domain of road construction – the WIRTGEN GROUP entered the material processing market. It set up two business sectors: "Road Technologies" and "Mineral Technologies".

The establishment of the second business sector began in 2006 with the integration of KLEEMANN GmbH, a long-standing German manufacturer of mobile processing plants. Having successively integrated KLEEMANN into the WIRTGEN GROUP's worldwide sales and service network and erected new brand headquarters for KLEEMANN in Göppingen, the WIRTGEN GROUP was able to consolidate its "Mineral Technologies" business sector in the period up to 2010, placing it on a firm footing for the future.

  • Transition to systematic series design with the small milling machines
  • Expansion of the product range in all four product divisions and implementation of innovative machine features
  • Expansion of the Windhagen location
  • Integration of KLEEMANN in the WIRTGEN GROUP and creation of the "Road Technologies" and "Mineral Technologies" business sectors

A series of innovations – The 2010s

The second decade of the new millennium once again saw a dazzling array of innovations. Be it the new generation of large milling machines, the new recycler and soil stabilizer series or the brand new concrete paver: all the machines launched in this period are bursting with features that deliver crucial value-added to customers on the job site or in the mine. This is because our innovations are inspired by requirements in the field and developed in a close dialog with our customers.

With its broad product range, WIRTGEN is able to offer solutions for a vast range of applications based on its construction machines and mining equipment. Thanks to leading technologies and application processes, customers can carry out their projects cost effectively and to the highest quality standards.

What's more, backed by the wealth of experience of WIRTGEN's applications experts and the know-how of the leading construction machine manufacturer, our customers can always rely on a strong partner – a partner that offers them everything from applications consulting, technical support right on the job site and a workshop service to the reliable supply of original wear and spare parts.

WIRTGEN stands for solutions, experience, reliability and passion. Nourished by the know-how acquired in the course of decades, it is from this firm ground that WIRTGEN's innovative spirit springs – a spirit that will inspire WIRTGEN to continue developing tailored solutions for its customers long into the future. For our satisfaction depends on the satisfaction of our customers

  • Expansion of the product range in all four product divisions and implementation of innovative machine features
  • 2013: bauma Innovation Award for the AutoPilot Field Rover
  • 2013: iF Product Design Award for the recycler and soil stabilizer WR 240
  • 2014: New generation of small and compact milling machines for increased performance, higher efficiency and maximum ease of operation
  • 2014: Innovation S-Pack: integrated spreader module for WIRTGEN soil stabilizers and cold recyclers

Further information on the WIRTGEN GROUP history is available here.

History of our technologies

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Market-leading and cutting-edge products for the Road and Mineral Technologies business sectors are constructed at the WIRTGEN brand headquarters in Windhagen, Rhineland-Palatinate. With its innovative, high-performance and cost-efficient products and technologies for cold milling, soil stabilization, hot and cold recycling, concrete paving and surface mining, WIRTGEN leads the world market in road construction and repair, as well as in mining natural rock and pay minerals.

© 2017 WIRTGEN GmbH