Wood And Plastic Moulded Parts  
   
 
      OWI company history
Part 1: 1927–1959

Firm of Oskar Winkler founded
in Münnerstadt, Germany
1927
Oskar WinklerBorn in 1894 in Bonn, Oskar Winkler, or Owi, initially joined his father's business in Lohr. In 1927 he struck out on his own and founded a factory for the production of wooden goods in Münnerstadt, south of the Rhön mountains region.
 
Oskar WinklerHe married Elisabeth Schmitt from Frankfurt and had three children, Tilly, Richard and Gertrud.  
Oskar Winkler
Oskar WinklerThe wood factory produces mainly moulded parts for the sanitation and furniture industries.
The company is employing 25 staff.
1928

1936
 
Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim

Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim 1937
The business moves from Münnerstadt to Bischofsheim an der Rhön. Production of plywood begins

In the hammermill at Bischofsheim, Oskar Winkler finds the ideal location to grow his business. To the manufacture of moulded parts he now adds plywood sheets. The company, which now has around 100 staff, is called Fränkische Holzwarenfabrik Oskar Winkler (The Franconian Wood Factory of Oskar Winkler).
1937
 
Oskar Winkler

Second World War

Due to army conscription, production plummets. Manufacturing concentrates on wooden stools and munitions caskets. French prisoners of war are kept at the site and left to fend for themselves – the stools are used to barter for food, cigarettes and other essential items. The plant is now staffed by unprecedented numbers of women and French prisoners of war.
1939

1945
 

Growth and relocation to Lohr am Main.

Production picks up again but the site at Bischofsheim proves to be too small. In 1952, the Bavarian town of Lohr am Main sees the opportunity to have a growing wood-processing business on its doorstep and offers up a potential site on Rodenbacher Strasse. Having always wanted to return to his home town, Oskar Winkler accepts.
Oskar Winkler
Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim

Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim 1937

1955: In less than two years, production in Lohr is up and running.

On graduating from business school in Baden-Württemberg, OWI's eldest daughter, 26 year old Tilly, becomes her father's assistant.

The company is employing around 100 staff.

1945

1955
 
Wood processing at the new site in Lohr.

Logs are delivered by road and rail. They are laid in steam pits and then stripped by husking machines in the 150 metre long main production hall.

  Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim
Oskar Winkler Fabrik Bischofsheim 1937
 

The pressing room contains eight hydraulic presses. The wood is surface-treated via a lacquering process and the production cycle finishes in the warehouse and despatch site.

An area is set aside for special wood processing. Electricity is generated by the factory's own heat and power generator. And the heart of the entire operation is the machinery halls and workshops.

The workforce numbers over 100.

 

Like the rest of Bavarian industry, the business enjoys continuous growth. A significant factor is the integration or large numbers of people known as Heimatvertriebene, or Germans expelled from other areas of Europe after the war. In Bavaria, this group numbers 1.7 million – nearly 20 per cent of the entire population. The wood processing industry in Bavaria employs 46,000 people, of whom 20,000 are Heimatvertriebene (source: Bavarian Office for Statistics).
1955
 


Oskar Winkler

Oskar Winkler Oskar Winkler celebrates his 65th birthday. His visionary enterprise is recognised nationwide. To the site in Lohr is added another in Wolfach in the Black Forest area, where Greco-Roman style curtain poles are produced for domestic interiors.

The company now employs a total of 170 people.

1959
 
At the end of 1959, the company suffers two devastating blows. Oskar Winkler dies in a road accident and just a few weeks later his son and potential successor Richard also dies in an accident.  

Part 2 >>