Altena has been a centre for the production of iron and steel for centuries. In the 14th century, the forging grade steel OSEMUND was obtained, laying the foundation stone for iron production. It was used primarily in the production of wire which was then transported to Aachen or England where it was processed to sewing needles.
The history of Drahtwerk Altena began in 1853 with the founding of the company Berg & Düsterloh by Friedrich Berg and Friedrich Düsterloh. In 1885, however, financial reasons forced the two owners to go separate ways. From this point onwards, Wilhelm Berg continued to run the business under the name “Wilh. Berg”, with the manufacture of wire products and rods for pram spokes forming the mainstay of the company’s business. Wilhelm Berg was the first German manufacturer who recognized the importance of these spokes and when the bicycle started to gain popularity, this became a fast-growing market in Europe. Up until the First World War, he expanded the production of spokes and nipples for bicycles, motorbikes and automobiles, supplying major foreign markets.
Wilhelm Berg died in 1918, after which his wife and grandson Friedrich Ernst Hohage, who had been working in the business for many years, took over the reins of the company. Wilhelm Berg’s son Fritz joined the company in 1928, sharing management responsibility with Hohage. The company’s manufacturing range was expanded to include steel tube beds, hospital furniture and upholstered beds calling for extensive new building and expansion of the works. Over the decades after the Second World War the factory developed itself to an outstanding specialist for spring steel wire. The company started to expand into international markets early on.
At the same time and practically only a stone’s throw away, the company Wagener GmbH & Co. KG was established by Ernst Wagener, who had taken it over from Johann Caspar Rumpe from the town of Altena in 1875. Till 2009, Peter Bergmann – Ernst Wagener’s great-grandson – managed the company in the fourth generation.
High quality is always the trademark of WAGENER’s hard drawn wires. Numerous customers in and outside of Germany rely on these quality products. In addition to alloyed and unalloyed spring steel wire, WAGENER also manufactures steel wires for other technical applications and various further processing purposes.
Historically, the development of the two wire factories is closely linked. The competitiveness of both companies is not only the result of their product quality and their focus on what the customer wants, but also the result of qualifications and experience of their staff and the associated flexibility in production. Constant expansion of the companies, for instance, the construction of further warehouses for storing semi-finished materials and manufacturing materials ensure our customers are supplied according to their requirements.
Since 2009, the company has been owned by the Lüling family who acquired Drahtwerk Altena in 2002. Both companies continue to be run as family companies to whom tradition and continuity are of the utmost importance.
In order to increase competitiveness and to secure their future existence, in January 2016 the two traditional companies DRAHTWERK ALTENA and WAGENER STAHLDRAHT merged to form
DRAHTWERK WAGENER – a further major step in the history of the companies which releases synergies and bundles competencies – from which both companies’ customers will benefit in the future.