The foundation of the Group

The invention of the tower crane is synonymous with the birth of the Liebherr company. Within the first decade, the small construction firm develops into a well-established manufacturer of construction machinery and many other technologically sophisticated products.

  • Transportation and erection of TK 3.6

    The successor model of the first Liebherr tower crane is introduced in 1950.

  • Mobile deployment

    The tower crane speeds up and simplifies restructuring of Germany following 1949.

  • Boundary-bursting success

    Liebherr cranes in 1956 being used on a construction site in Rotterdam

In 1949, the mobile tower crane is invented

In post-war Germany, many parts of the country need to be rebuilt. Hans Liebherr manages his parents' building firm in South Germany. He recognizes the need for tools and machinery for the building industry and domestic construction. Together with design engineers and tradesmen, he develops the first mobile tower crane in 1949. The TK 10 can be transported easily and is simple to set-up at the construction site. It is also the first product of the Hans Liebherr Maschinenfabrik (engineering works), founded in 1949 in Kirchdorf. As successor models follow, crane production at Liebherr picks up pace and the construction company turns into a manufacturer of construction machines.

Lightweight and powerful: with the L300, Hans Liebherr builds the first hydraulic excavator in Europe.

Lightweight and powerful: with the L300, Hans Liebherr builds the first hydraulic excavator in Europe.

1952-54 Expansion of product range

At the end of the 1950s, gear wheels for the manufacture of gearboxes are hard to come by. In order to produce cranes, Hans Liebherr starts making hobbing machines himself to produce gear wheels.

When Hans Liebherr hires a cable excavator in 1953, he notices the poor power-to-weight ratio. Eight months later, he presents the first hydraulic excavator in Europe - the L300. This is four times lighter than the hire machine. In 1954, series production of the powerful machine begins.

1955: Advertisement for a Liebherr refrigerator

In 1954, only one in every ten German households has a refrigerator. Hans Liebherr recognizes the demand and begins manufacturing refrigerators.

1954 From construction machinery to refrigerators

For Hans Liebherr, the impetus behind new areas of business is sometimes derived from personal contacts. From the branch manager of his local bank, the businessman learns about a refrigerator-making factory that is for sale.

By examining the product, the sales figures and the markets, Liebherr recognizes the enormous potential of appliances. At this time, only one in every ten households in Germany has a refrigerator – and with the economy growing, demand is on the rise. Hans Liebherr decides not to buy the company but instead builds his own production facilities at the Ochsenhausen site in Southern Germany. In 1954, the first refrigerator is built there and series production begins just one year later.

The range of construction machinery is extended in 1956 to include machines for the production and transportation of concrete, which Liebherr builds from that point on in Bad Schussenried.

1958 Expansion in Europe and Africa

Established as a company in Germany, Liebherr commissions the first factory abroad in the 1950s. To gain a foothold in the British and North American market, the company builds a production site in Killarney, Ireland. Initially, tower cranes are built here, followed later by container cranes, shipyard cranes and special cranes. In South Africa in the 1960s, the first company outside Europe is founded. Hans Liebherr sets the tracks for the international direction of the Group.

Servicing aircraft landing gear at the Lindenberg site

Servicing aircraft landing gear at the Lindenberg site

Early 1960s at the Lindenberg site: aircraft landing gear being serviced by Liebherr engineers.

1960 Start of aeronautical activities

Through participatory involvement, Hans Liebherr's commitment in the area of aircraft technology begins at the end of the 1950s. In March 1960, he sets-up the Liebherr-Aero-Technik GmbH company in Lindenberg, in Allgäu (Germany). From the outset, the aim is to develop and manufacture prototypes in-house. The intention is for the company to advance from being a license holder to a producer of its own components and systems; from an equipment manufacturer to a system provider. In 1996, the company changes its name to Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH.