The art of adaptation

Where conveyor belts run in the family

As Habasit GmbH in Austria prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, one does not have to look back far to find the family ties upon which the company was originally built. In 1967, Marcel Habegger, the brother of Habasit founder, Fernand Habegger, opened the company’s first location in Vienna. Set up in a small workshop on Kulmgasse, it was a humble beginning, but since Marcel Habegger had already served as the responsible sales person for the country, he had a strong foundation of customer relationships to build on. The workshop was a space they would soon outgrow. Quite literally. Without a large enough work area, the story goes that early Habasit engineers eventually had to resort to joining the widest belts in the street.

The company has remained in the dynamic capital of Vienna, but in 1977, moved to the current location on Hetmanekgasse. The building has since undergone several renovations and extensions, including the addition of a second floor in 1991.

Since the very beginning, it is a branch that has excelled at the art of adaptation. From product development to politics, the last fifty years have brought a wide range of transformations.

A history of progress

Habasit was originally founded in 1946 by Fernand and Alice Habegger who began with the vision to replace leather belts with fully synthetic ones. Although they began with power transmission belts, they soon added spindle and machine tapes, as well as the major development of fabric conveyor belts after 1953.

Having opened just 21 years after Habasit had first appeared in Switzerland, the Vienna location has carried forward the company’s strong commitment to progress. Although in the late sixties, Habasit in Austria only sold fabric belts, they have since developed and extended their portfolio with the addition of plastic modular belts, slat and conveyor chains, timing belts and monolithic belts.

While the Vienna branch is always making new additions, there are also quality products which have stood the test of time. Polycord round belts, spindle tapes, SAG-12E or SPS20 (nowadays called HAB-12E) have been a constant in the company’s portfolio since the seventies.

A fluctuating geography

In 1980, Habasit in Vienna became the company’s gateway to the East. Beginning with Hungary, and soon followed by the former Czechoslovakia and Poland, the Vienna location was also responsible for serving the Balkan countries, the former USSR, and later their successor states.

While serving the Eastern European market, they also had customers in the DDR (German Democratic Republic) up until the German Reunification in 1990 when they transferred their business to Habasit Germany.

The Vienna branch has managed to thrive in a politically shifting market, and until 2010, they were also responsible for the Middle East, in places such as Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Today we serve a total of 19 countries across Central Eastern Europe from Vienna.

An international family

Such a diverse history has led to a uniquely international team, an extended Habasit family of both Eastern and Western Europe. With such a wide range of cultures and languages, employees feel at home in a global atmosphere.

General Manager, Wolfgang Tiwald, likes to thank his team, as well as the customers they have gladly served, for the success of the last 50 years and looks forward to the adaptations still to come. (ST)
Special thanks goes to Günter Strobl, former General Manager of Habasit GmbH in Austria, for his valuable input to this article.
Sonja StrimitzerMarketing

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