Celebrating one anniversary with employees, partners, and customers is fun – celebrating two is nothing short of a privilege. This year, PALFINGER is looking back on 90 years of product excellence and 30 years at sea. From the humble beginnings as a small family business to worldwide success as a global market leader, it is safe to say we’ve experienced quite a ride. Join us in looking back at some of the milestones and gaining firsthand insights from a long-standing colleague.
The early days
Given our status as global market leader in material handling and marine solutions, it may still come as a surprise that PALFINGER’s beginnings date back to a small workshop for agricultural trailers, tippers, and vehicle bodies established by Richard Palfinger in 1932. The family business actually only constructed its first crane in 1959. In 1968, a few years after the next generation under Hubert Palfinger introduced the first hydraulic, truck-mounted loader cranes, the company started into what is now known as its “crane era”. The construction of a dedicated assembly plant in Salzburg, Austria, in 1974 laid the foundation for major product developments that, alongside a string of strategic acquisitions, allowed PALFINGER to develop into a global provider of cutting-edge crane technology.
The era of internationalization
Walter Bliem, a mechanic who started off as a crane engineer and today acts as Head of After Sales & Service at PALFINGER MARINE, joined the company a few years later, incidentally in 1992 when PALFINGER constructed its very first marine crane. Our valued colleague describes it as a “lucky coincidence” involving a tip from a friend. He witnessed how the family business transformed into a listed global player in 1999, driven by further portfolio expansion and a commitment to product development.
“I believe the core PALFINGER values are trust and reliability.”Walter Bliem, Head of After Sales & Service at PALFINGER MARINE
“Both terms still apply to products and staff alike. The company is a family business that has successfully adapted to being a listed, global market leader,” Walter explains. Always a pioneer, PALFINGER has constantly worked on honing its expertise in material handling and marine technology ever since entering its internationalization phase in 2008. Supported by a successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A) strategy and an excellent in-house research and development team, the group has developed into the global market leader we know today. For a full, more detailed account of PALFINGER’s history, click here, and for or a quick overview of our history, check out the video below!
The calling of the sea
In spite of its beginnings as a company in a landlocked country like Austria, PALFINGER decided to enter new territories by manufacturing its very first marine crane at the production site in Köstendorf, Austria, in 1992. Walter remembers: “Establishing serial production of marine solutions in Köstendorf was definitely a major milestone.” This step was particularly remarkable as it came during a time when shipyards in Europe were closing down and the focus of the industry started shifting to Asia. “PALFINGER MARINE opened up a completely different, global world. For me personally, it was incredibly exciting to be sent to Asia to help install the products we delivered to the region,” Walter smiles. Yet this was only the beginning.
PALFINGER MARINE has since grown significantly in line with the group’s expansion philosophy – as has the product portfolio. It was enhanced with wind cranes in 2004, boats and davits in 2010, offshore cranes in 2012, winches and marine handling equipment in 2015, and the offshore passenger transfer system (OPTS) technology in 2021. Even though PALFINGER MARINE officially celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, its experience goes back decades beyond due to acquisitions of companies with long-standing tradition.
Walter witnessed the rapid growth firsthand. He recalls: “It was truly fascinating to see how an Austrian company was capable of developing products for a global market. PALFINGER MARINE has prospered beautifully over the last 30 years, not least due to the pioneering spirit of our colleagues, and I am proud to be part of it.” See Walter’s full interview, featuring some truly spectacular insights and anecdotes below (German with English subtitles).
We would like to express our gratitude to our customers, partners, and dedicated employees. This journey would not have been possible without you. We are looking forward to many more years and challenges ahead.