Our company is built on a tradition of blacksmithing and wagon-making dating back to the 19th century. Founded by Albert Grünenfelder senior, the company is still family-owned today. Over the years, we have developed from a farriery into a modern production company and have greatly expanded our business areas.
Our company is based on a 19th century black smith tradition. In 1948 Albert Grünfelder Sr enters his fathers black smith business and begins with the production of trailers for the agriculture and construction industry in Balgach. At the beginning of the 1950s father and son produced more and more truck trailers for the agricultural business.
Until 1964, the vehicles are manufactured in the original blacksmith’s workshop in Balgach. However, they soon outgrew the space and Albert Grünfelder Sr. decides to transfer the production to neighboring town, Kriessern. The location is well accessible since it is located right next to a motorway entrance of the A13 motorway. A modern production hall with offices are built.
The company continues to grow through commitment and innovation. In 1965 the first double-decker aluminium body, for the transport of live animals (pigs), is developed and constructed. In 1966 Europe’s first 16 t trailer in all-aluminum construction was developed and constructed. Between 1967 and 1971, a large number of 3-sides 2-axle tipping trailers are manufactured. In order to meet the growing demand, Pistenbully tracked vehicles are produced on a contract basis.
In 1973, a 17x6x6m stove enamelling booth is added to the Kriessern production site. In 1973, the plastics processing plant in Kriessern is also taken over, where the company builds up expertise in the processing of plastics.
In order to harm Israel’s western allies, various oil countries cut their oil production during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The price of oil then rises considerably, plunging the Western industrial nations into recession. The Swiss economy is also hit by the oil crisis. Business stagnates or declines. Albert Grünenfelder Sr. therefore looks for new markets and opportunities. He finds them in the very part of the world where the crisis began: The Middle East.
During a scouting and market research tour in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Albert Grünenfelder Sr. notices the great potential for commercial vehicles and superstructures in this region. Together with Esmat Al-Saady, he founded the joint venture CGS (Consolidated Grünenfelder Saady) in 1976.
With the help of many Swiss and other European employees, Albert Grünenfelder Sr. is the first to build a factory in Riyadh. Material for the workshop and the residential camp are mostly transported by trucks from Switzerland. The first customers include Swiss companies, that are also active in the Middle East. Soon the first trailers, superstructures and semi-trailers leave the factory.
As the company develops, new locations are added. Today the CGS Group employs about 750 people from over 20 nations in Riyadh, Jeddah, Damman and Bahrain and is one of the largest producers of refrigerated vehicles and refrigerated storage in the Middle East. The company also acts as general contractor for the refrigeration equipment manufacturer Carrier Transicold in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. For more information on the CGS Group, please visit: www.cgs.sa.com
The years between 1980 and 1990 are shaped by modernisation and increased orders for the Swiss Army. In 1984 the company GK Grünenfelder is converted into a public limited company. In 1988 an additional warehouse and goods hall is built in Kriessern. At the same time the offices are converted and expanded. 1996 the engineering office aquires modern 3-D CAD equipement. In 1997 the company receives a ISO 9001 certification.
As early as the 1970s, the company was able to deliver trailer series for the Swiss Army. Additional orders followed later. In 1993, for example, the company delivers 50 1-axle special trailers to the Swiss Army. In 1995, a series of truck structures for the Swiss Army followed.
Circues also order their vehicles at GK Grünenfelder. Among the most important orders are the production of 180° and 360° cinemas, which were very popular at the time. The National Circus Knie is acquired as a customer and from the 90s onwards regularly ordered special vehicles, including control room containers, kitchen trailers, crew trailers, dressing room trailers, mobile saddlery, mobile locksmith’s, and carpenter’s workshops, even some monkey cage trailers.
On December 24th 2004, the second generation, Marcel and Albert Grünenfelder, took over the management of the company. Gradually, the next generation is able to drive the transition to a modern production company. The “00s” are marked by large orders from the German Army and NATO. In 2001, ND Satcom orders the first special low-loader tandem trailer for the mobile use of parabolic reflector antennas type AFE, on behalf of the German Armed Forces. Additional deliveries of these trailers are made in the following years. In 2005, development work starts on a mobile transmission module “TÜM” for the German Armed Forces. In the end, 90 of these units are delivered.
Orders in the defense sector require restructuring and investment in the production infrastructure. The company grows with these challenges and has evolved from a craftsman’s business to a modern production company. In 2007 a second factory premise opens at Rheinstrasse. A 9-axis welding robot is bought, which can proccess long components and beams. In 2011, a 3-D water jet cutting machine is purchased, which is used for the production of small parts, which are used for the production of bodies, trailers, and semi-trailers. Production is restructured and adopts the “modular construction method”. This construction method saves time and allows vehicle chassis to be tailor-made according to the customer needs.
The company is able to carry on the momentum from the 00’s. Since 2010, the company’s product portfolio has been consolidating. The defence sector has become an important market for GK Grünenfelder. In 2011 the company entered into a cooperation agreement with Fischer Frech-Hoch Estech and was awarded the contract for the production of 400 pieces of 4×4 and 6×6 Iveco superstructures for the Swiss army in 2012.
In 2009 the factory premises at Zollstrasse is renovated. The building from the year 1962 is demolished to a large extent and equipped with new steel construction, roof and new façade on three sides. Thanks to the outstanding work of all involved parties, the production can be resumed within four weeks. Through the renovation, the production of the vehicles can be continued in optimal conditions. In 2013, the company acquired the property of Tapmatick at Rheinstrasse in Kriessern. The property expands the company premises by 4,000 square meters and allows parts of the production to be moved to the halls of “Werk III”.
In the meantime, the refrigeration sector is also becoming a major business field. Almost all Migros cooperatives can be supplied with vehicles from the GK production. Other Swiss wholesale distributors Coop and Spar have become customers. They rely on the quality and functionality of the products of GK Grünenfelder AG. Today, the company serves customers in the areas of standard vehicle construction, special vehicles, refrigeration, defense and industrial services. The company is supplier of individual, high-quality and innovative mobility solutions for the road, factory premises and military logistics.
The history of Frech-Hoch Nutzfahrzeuge AG in Pratteln goes back to the considerable history of FHS E. Frech-Hoch AG in Sissach, but only as its offshoot. FHS, which is known throughout Switzerland, has a success story of over 100 years. For decades, it developed, designed and built customer- and practice-oriented vehicles and a wide variety of special constructions for the transport and traffic sectors. FHS E. Frech-Hoch AG in Sissach was one of the most important vehicle manufacturers in Switzerland. A large number of commercial vehicles and containers left the factory halls every year.
In 2013, the refrigerated vehicle division separated from FHS Frech-Hoch and appeared independently on the market under the name Frech-Hoch Kühlwagen AG. In 2016, the physical separation also followed and Frech-Hoch moved its headquarters to Pratteln. The name was changed to Frech-Hoch Nutzfahrzeuge AG and the focus was placed on the manufacture and repairs/service of the proven Frech-Hoch refrigerated vehicles. Since 2017, Frech-Hoch Nutzfahrzeuge has been part of the GK Grünenfelder Group.
The long-established companies, vehicle manufacturer Frech Hoch and GK Grünenfelder AG are joining forces and bringing together years of know-how and Swiss engineering expertise at the highest level. On January 1, 2021, Frech Hoch will be fully integrated into GK Grünenfelder AG. The approximately 80 employees at the Kriessern and Pratteln sites will operate on the market under the GK Grünenfelder brand.
The new decade will start under the banner of the energy and mobility revolution: in 2020, the first series production of ten Hyundai Xient Fuell Cell hydrogen trucks will be handed over to various Swiss logistics companies.
In 2022, GK will commission a new photovoltaic system on the roof of its production hall in Kriessern. Since then, the vehicle manufacturer has been generating more than half of its annual electricity consumption itself.
For its 75th birthday, GK Grünenfelder 2023 presents a new vision and also renews its brand identity. As the centerpiece, the branding is modernized and the company’s positioning is sharpened for the future. GK Grünenfelder becomes a provider of innovative transport solutions for a sustainable future.