Alfred August Wirth – The saviour of the IBG
Alfred August Wirth was born on 6 August 1878, in Vienna in Imperial and Royal Austria. After studying mechanical engineering, Wirth worked as a technical advisor at A. Schaaffhausen (A. Schaaffhausen’sche Bankverein) a banking firm in Cologne, advising on the grant of credits to industrial enterprises.
On 30 June 1907 the A. Schaaffhausen’sche Bankverein firm, where Wirth was still working, became the sole owner and shareholder of the Internationale Bohrgesellschaft, when Anton Raky left the company. A short while later, the foundation of the Internationale Bohrgesellschaft (IBG) – began to shrink steadily, this was because of the nationalization of mining and mineral resources, in line with a new law, - “Lex Gamp” (1907), the deep drilling business. This law placed concessions under state control and drastically reduced the huge profits of the entrepreneurs.
In 1916, the Bankverein was in a financial crisis of its own, and decided to part with the IBG. Without further ado, the entire drilling equipment park, worth 3.5 million marks, was sold to Deutsche Erdöl AG (DEA).
The machine and drilling equipment factory in Erkelenz was also to be closed, however Wirth strongly objected to this idea. He informed his friend, the iron wholesaler Otto Wolff (1881-1940), and suggested a take over of the works. Wolff, one of the most important iron and steel producers and dealers in the 20 th century, bought the firm for 760 000 marks on 1 October 1916. Because of its excellent reputation, Wolff asked to use Alfred Wirth's name, and since then, the firm was called “Maschinen und Bohrgerätefabrik Alfred Wirth & Co. KG”, but the firm Otto Wolff always held the majority of shares.
Alfred Wirth managed the firm conscientiously for nearly 17 years, and successfully manoeuvred it through the economic difficulties of the post-war period. Even after the death of Alfred Wirth in 1933, the Erkelenz firm continued to be a credit to his name. In the 1930s, it perfected the rotary drilling technique, originally from the USA, and established it as a new drilling method. In its Moscow office, the company also received an extremely lucrative contract, for the supply of 26 drill turbines. From 1936, tool joint production began.
Post-war period, growth years and integration into the Otto Wolff Group
In the 1950s, after painstaking reconstruction of the factory, which was destroyed in the war, only a few scars still bore witness to the conflict. The workforce has grown to about 1000. The main business of the firm WIRTH was mineral oil exploration, foundation boring and machine tool construction. At the end of the 60s, a fourth pillar was added, this time with a more “media effective” quality: tunnel boring, with a specialty in hard rock.
It was 1977 Otto Wolff AG took over all shares in the firm, and it was finally integrated into the Group. The name of the firm then changed to “WIRTH Maschinen- und Bohrgerätefabrik GmbH, Erkelenz”.
WIRTH was sold
In 1989, following the first signs of a crisis in the Otto Wolff Group – which also affected WIRTH’s foreign subsidiaries – the Howden Group PLC, Glasgow, took over the traditional German firm WIRTH.
Open differences soon occurred between the Group management in Glasgow and WIRTH with regard to management style. As a result, WIRTH had an investment ban imposed on it and was forced, in the long term, to reduce personnel. In 1993, only 700 of the former 1200 staff remained. Four years later, the Howden Group was itself in crisis and was taken over, together with WIRTH, by Charter PLC, London. However, Charter was not interested in the drilling machine business and wanted to drop it, which meant the possible end of the company in Erkelenz.
The Management Buy-out
Charter was faced with two alternatives: either WIRTH must be liquidated at great financial cost, or the break-up of the firm must finally begin.
However, suddenly, a third solution emerged, a management buy-out (MBO) was proposed and a short time later, two employees and a self-employed tax and company consultant together took the first step by founding a GbR, a civil association and Charter was prepared to support the project with a bank guarantee.
On March 12, 1999, the time arrived, when the trio and their team actively began with the consolidation and restructuring of the firm. New orders followed immediately. No wonder WIRTH still have a top international reputation for high quality products and are still highly regarded worldwide. In the same year, WIRTH took over the firm Paurat, a manufacturer of mining machinery, followed by the takeover of Soltau Microtunnelling, in 2001.
New partner - new name
Since 2009, the Erkelenz based company has been a fully controlled subsidiary of the Norwegian Aker Solutions ASA and changed its name to Aker Wirth. Aker Solutions is a leading global oil services company that provides engineering and construction services, technologies and product solutions for the upstream oil and gas industry . The two companies have been successfully collaborating on drilling solutions for nearly two decades and with Aker Solutions’ complementary product portfolio, Aker Wirth strengthens its own range of services.
In March 2012 Einar Brønlund takes over the management of Aker Wirth GmbH.
Today, Aker Wirth enjoys a first class reputation worldwide as a partner for infrastructure projects, for mining and also as a supplier to the energy industry.
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+49 2431 83-0
+49 2431 83-267
akerwirth.info [at] akersolutions.com
The Founder Anton Raky
Internationale Bohrgesellschaft AG (IBG)
Anton Raky founded the IBG (Internationale Bohrgesellschaft AG) in 1895 which later became the WIRTH.
Case Studies und Reference Lists
Our successful global engagements can be studied in this section. We provide lists of reference as well as more detailed case studies for your information.
Success through Quality
Products from Aker Wirth always meet the highest standards of quality. The standards are well documented. Check out all information about DIN EN ISO 9001:2008, Achilles Information System or OHSAS.
Even after years of operation Aker Wirth provides spare and wear parts for their machines. Now you can even order or inquire about spare parts right here and now, 24 hours a day - online!