Resolute ambition. Resolute success. For 98 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 this is the wealth of experience the company has accumulated over almost a century. The story begins with Willy Kündig (born 1896) who, as a young man, having discontinued his apprenticeship at a bank, joined Zurich-based milling and fodder cereal importer Karr & Lederer (now Karr AG in Zug) and learned the ropes of the grain trade as well as business spirit. While the First World War was still being waged, Willy Kündig left his job in Sète on the French Mediterranean coast, where he worked as a goods inspector, to make his way back to Switzerland. Once home, he took the leap of setting up his own company.
Together with a business partner, 24-year-oldWilly Kündig founded the import/export company Kündig & Kälin on 1. May 1920. Not long after, the two partners separated and W. Kündig & Cie was established.Owing to the historical circumstances at the time, the economy suffered, and with it Kündig's business. The Great Depression at the end of the 1920s and the Second World War also severely slowed 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 position 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, former Yugoslavia and other countries remain important 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. Some ten years later, its founder passed away at the age of 76. As a consequence, 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 succeeded Tobler as General Manager after another ten years. 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 –it was not long before they should become successful. Simultaneously, the company was expanding continuously, most significantly outside of Switzerland. What began with a subsidiary company in Hungary was soon followed by an expansion into the German market in 1997. In 2003, W. Kündig & Cie AG acquired an initial financial interest in the BGM Group, based in Ritschenhausen, and aquired 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. 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.
Upcoming 100-year anniversary
Over the course of many decades, the small family-run operation founded by Willy Kündig in 1920 grew to become an internationally recognised and highly successful corporate enterprise. To this very day, the ownership of W. Kündig & Cie AG has remained 100 per cent in the hands of the Kündig family. With Marc-Remo and Sandro Kündig, the third generation has joined 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.