Hedwig Grünenfelder was not thrilled when her husband Albert took out a loan in 1963 to build a large factory building with offices in Kriessern. With this investment, the entrepreneur wants to secure the future of his still young vehicle manufacturing company. Today, 75 years later, GK Grünenfelder has become the leading vehicle manufacturer in Switzerland and employs around 75 people at its headquarters in Kriessern and its branch in Pratteln. On 20,000 square meters, GK produces around 300 vehicles a year for renowned Swiss retailers, logistics companies and for the Swiss army. Every week, at least five bodies, trailers or semi-trailers of all sizes and weight classes for dry freight, general cargo and food transport leave the factory halls.
From generation to generation
“GK Grünenfelder has been an integral part of the Swiss commercial vehicle industry for 75 years – this consistency alone speaks for itself,” says CEO Philippe Köppel. The 36-year-old has been in charge of operations at the family business since 2019. The brothers and owners Marcel and Albert Grünenfelder act as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Group Manager. Köppel’s young leadership is emblematic of an important factor in the vehicle manufacturer’s success: its innovative strength. “It’s in our DNA to constantly reinvent and adapt,” Köppel said. From generation to generation. From Europe’s first all-aluminum 16-ton trailer in 1965 to the development of complex transport solutions for food logistics and the world’s first certified hydrogen-powered truck body – for the Kriessen-based vehicle manufacturer, standing still is a foreign word.
“From here to the future”
Therefore, the focus on the 75th anniversary should also be on looking forward. “From here into the future” is the motto in the anniversary year. To mark the occasion, GK is launching its first GK Future Day in September – a customer event designed to inspire the invited guests to come up with new ideas. “In the future, mobility will have to be thought, designed and lived differently. We vehicle manufacturers play an important role in this development,” Köppel is convinced. Celebrating the anniversary with all employees, customers and partners makes him proud. “I’m super excited to continue leading GK into the future.”
Its history begins in 1948 in Balgach, where Albert Grünenfelder Sr. joins his father’s blacksmith shop. Together, the two produce trailers for agriculture and construction. In 1954, Albert Grünenfelder Sr. takes over the business and shortly thereafter delivers the first truck bodies and trailers. Soon the space in the blacksmith’s shop becomes too small – the move to Kriessern marks an important milestone in the further development of GK Grünenfelder. The location right next to the freeway should turn out to be a stroke of luck. Because from now on, GK appears on the map of the Swiss vehicle manufacturing industry and over the years, under the leadership of the second generation, develops into one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in Switzerland.