Two brothers with craft in their blood
Klaus Kuhn would certainly agree without hesitation if one were to assume he had an eventful life. For up to the foundation of his stainless steel foundry and also in the years to follow, he travelled a long, often rocky road. We tell the story of two brothers who, with their passion for craftwork, built up our internationally operating company. Continue reading
The foundation of the Klaus Kuhn stainless steel foundry came at a time when nothing seemed impossible economically. In the 1950s and 60s, those who worked hard, even with little capital, were able to participate in this “miracle” and set up a profitable business. Many refugees and displaced persons from the eastern provinces of the defunct German Reich played a not inconsiderable role in this economic upturn.
All beginnings are difficult
This group of people also included the Kuhn family. It has maintained a tradition of craftsmanship for generations: Bernhard Kuhn, father of Hans (1929-2020) and Klaus (1931-2003), is a trained lathe operator. The grandfathers earned their money as plumbers and carpenters. Hans and Klaus Kuhn also chose a skilled trade later on, but it would be an arduous journey until then. Having grown up during the war, Klaus Kuhn was 13 years old when he was separated from his family during the evacuation of children in 1944. He spent the next few years in a children’s home in Schleswig-Holstein until his brother was able to bring him back to his family. Meanwhile, the family’s hometown, Elbing in West Prussia, had been conquered by the Red Army. They left the town as displaced persons and headed to the West of Germany. At this time the family was not only without son Klaus, but also father Bernhard, who was interned after the invasion of the Russians. But the Kuhns persevere – and that would eventually pay off: in 1947, the family was reunited and found a new home in Radevormwald.
The work pays off
From now on, everything is on the up – and with impressive speed and consistency. With his school-leaving certificate in his pocket, Hans became a toolmaker and studied engineering, while Klaus completed an apprenticeship as a lathe operator. Father Bernhard provided the first work experience himself in his own business. His modestly equipped turning shop was to become the forerunner of what is now Kuhn Special Steel. With the cooperation of his son Klaus, stainless steel castings were machined here and important contacts made in the industry. Hans worked both for his father and for a company in the neighboring town as an engineer in design and later in the sales department. On November 01, 1960, Klaus Kuhn finally founded his own company for machining stainless steel castings.
Yet the competition was not sleeping either. And so plan was that the turning shop would not remain the only driving force of the company, Klaus Kuhn wanted more: he designed his first own centrifugal casting machine, whilst brother Hans Kuhn bought an old discarded graphite rod furnace from Bergische Stahlindustrie in Remscheid for 4,000 DM. The foundation of the stainless steel foundry had been laid. On his own initiative, Klaus Kuhn helped the first centrifugal casting machine out of its infancy and developed the process on which the company’s success is based.
Rotation instead of standstill
Taking a rest? That was not for Klaus Kuhn. In the years that followed, he continued to develop the complex manufacturing process, increasing the purity and quality of the casting material and introducing computer-aided production and manufacturing. Klaus Kuhn brought family help into the company: brother Hans supported his first steps towards independence at an early stage and started working for the company in 1965. He was the commercial counterpart to his brother Klaus and managed the administration of the stainless steel foundry. Hans Kuhn worked actively in the family business until 2000 and supported his nephew Andre Kuhn for another 20 years. Together, the brothers brought their stainless steel foundry through the economic crisis of the 1970s, expanded the product range, celebrating high-spirited parties with the employees and continued growth in the industry. In 60 years of company history, the small three-man operation has grown into a modern, internationally active, medium-sized industrial company, whose emergence is due to the courage, confidence and passion of its founder.
Klaus Kuhn has passed on this attitude towards his own company, the employees and the entire industry to his son Andre: since 1995, he has continued to drive the success of the Klaus Kuhn stainless steel foundry and thus concluded his 25th anniversary at the company this year – but that is a story in itself.