Resolute ambition. Resolute success. For 96 years now, W. Kündig & Cie AG, Zurich, has been active in the raw produce trade. A look back at the history of the parent company of the Kündig Group.
With subsidiary companies in Switzerland, Germany and Hungary as well as a branch office in China, the Kündig Group is one of the world’s preeminent raw produce specialists. Vouching for that is the wealth of experience its people have gained over practically an entire century. The story begins with Willy Kündig (born 1896) who, as a young man with a discontinued bank apprenticeship behind him, joined Zurich-based milling and fodder cereals importer Karr & Lederer (today’s Karr AG in Zug) and learned the ropes of the grain trade – as well as entrepreneurialism. Even as the First World War was still being waged, Willy Kündig left his job as a goods inspector in Sête on the French Mediterranean coast to make his way back to Switzerland. Once home, he took the leap of setting up his own shop.
Together with a partner, 24-year-old Willy Kündig founded on 1 May 1920 the import/export company Kündig & Kälin. Not long after, the two partners separated and W. Kündig & Cie was established. Obviously, the economy was in poor shape at the time and Kündig’s business suffered as a result. The Great Depression at the end of the ’20s and then the Second World War also severely restrained the company’s development. But Willy Kündig had a staunch set of values – values that contributed to the company’s emergence as a trustworthy, reliable partner in the European grain trade. During WWII, Willy Kündig became an advisor to the Federal Office of War Provisions, a post which helped him to import entire trainloads of grain from Eastern Europe, even through the battle lines. Many of the contacts he made in Hungary, Poland, the former Yugoslavia and other countries remain intact to this very day.
In 1961, the legal form of the company was changed from a limited partnership to a joint stock corporation: W. Kündig & Cie AG. A good ten years later, its founder died at the age of 76. Long-standing employee and confidant Ferdinand Tobler took over as General Manager in 1972. A decade passed before Beat W. Kündig (born 1952), son of the founder, joined the family company as a qualified grain trader and after another ten years succeeded Tobler as General Manager. Beat Kündig immediately started to diversify the existing product portfolio by supplementing the company’s core grains business with new offerings in the area of deep-frozen and dried produce – their success was not long in coming. In parallel, the company was expanding continuously, mainly in foreign countries. First came a subsidiary company in Hungary, followed by a move into the German market in 1997. In 2003, W. Kündig & Cie AG acquired an initial financial interest in BGM Group, based in Ritschenhausen, and later took over the majority of that company’s shares in 2007. BGM Nahrungsmittel GmbH & Co. KG, Europe’s most modern refining centre for dried foodstuffs – herbs, spices and mushrooms in particular, but also an array of other specialities – was renamed Kündig Nahrungsmittel GmbH & Co. KG. Its subsidiary company, BioSteril GmbH & Co. KG, retained its name. Then in 2010 Kündig acquired Interoma AG Switzerland. Founded in 1993, the company specialises in international raw goods and commodities procurement for processing by the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
100-year anniversary in sight
Over the course of many decades, a small family-run operation founded by Willy Kündig in 1920 grew to become an internationally recognised and highly successful corporate enterprise. And to this very day, the ownership of W. Kündig & Cie AG has remained 100 per cent in the hands of the Kündig family. In the person of Marc-Remo Kündig, the third generation of the family is now active in the company. All of its members – owners and employees alike – can be proud of their past accomplishments and look forward to the company’s imminent 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020.