1900: Founding and initial years
It all starts with a model craft workshop:
When Heinrich and Margarete take the plunge into self-employment in 1902, they each have clearly assigned roles. Heinrich Diehl is the skilled craftsman and artist, while his wife Margarete is a natural talent at business. It’s not commonplace for companies to be run equally by two parties at this time, but this will prove to be a stroke of luck for Diehl.
It starts with a model craft workshop on Nuremberg’s Schweiggerstraße. The small artistic foundry initially focuses on making models for ovens, art and construction castings, and epitaphs (tomb slabs).
A rise to an industrial scale:
As early as 1905, the Diehls are able to buy the renowned Brand artistic foundry on Grünstraße, which was previously Heinrich Diehl’s training workshop. Along with a foundry and processing workshop, the production program now also includes fittings, door knobs and art castings. A commercial department for building hardware is also set up. The expanding company moves to Geuderstraße and starts growing to an industrial scale.
The birth of their son Karl in 1907 crowns the parents’ happiness.
Growth and breakthrough during World War I:
The start of World War I sees Diehl change from producing handcrafted consumables to casting brass rods. These are used to extrude raw parts for ammunition production in the company’s own drop forge.
The need for extra production space initially sees Diehl rent the Brown factory on Waechterstraße in 1915, and in 1917 finally build the main factory, later known as Factory 1, on Äußere Bayreuther Straße.
In doing so, Diehl positions itself as a Frankish manufacturer of semi-finished products.
Margarete Diehl runs the company on her own
When Heinrich Diehl has to serve as a soldier on the eastern front, Margarete Diehl takes over management on her own.
The Nuremberg commercial registry shows that power of attorney has been granted to the “Artistic foundry owner’s wife Grete Diehl” – something still very uncommon in Germany at the time.
1920: Weimar Republic and World War II
End of World War I and The Great Depression:
At the end of World War I, Heinrich Diehl’s metal, casting and pressing plant is forced to cut over two thirds of its 300 employees. Despite losing lots of important machinery for German reparations, the conditions are still right for industrial mass production, enabling operations to continue after the economic collapse of the production industry.
The main demand initially concerns taps and water pipes. The company is able to buy a 300-ton extruder as early as 1920 and thus make preliminary material for pressed parts and pipes for the pencil industry. The political and economic recovery means a period of intense growth for the company. The state railway becomes a major customer, and another 1,200-ton press enables rod and pipe manufacturing to be further developed.
In 1931, however, Germany is hit by the effects of The Great Depression, and Diehl is forced to cut all its staff as a precaution in fall 1932.
Overcoming the depression and rising back up:
Karl Diehl joins his father’s company on August 1, 1930 during difficult times. Production needs to be wound back, and only 50 staff are currently employed.
At Karl Diehl’s initiative, the company starts producing precision components in order to increase added value. To do this, premises at the former Bing AG toy factory are rented in 1934, and a metal-processing workshop is built, with Karl Diehl taking over its management. This also enables considerable expansion of the product range.
In 1937, Diehl finally buys the entire Bing complex on Stephanstraße to expand the processing of fitting parts and other pressed parts from Factory 1 on Äußeren Bayreuther Straße at the premises now known as Factory 2.
The founding of the Röthenbach factories and the death of Heinrich Diehl:
A lack of expansion options at the Factory 1 premises makes it necessary to establish a new casting and pressing plant (Factory 3) with drop forge in Röthenbach, just outside Nuremberg. A 3,500-ton press commences operation here in 1938 – the largest of its kind in Germany at this time.
Shortly after begin the plans for the neighboring Factory 4, intended to mass produce ammunition and small parts such as bearing shells for rail carriages. As one of the leading manufacturer of semi-finished products with a rapidly growing mechanical production plant, Diehl is involved in Germany’s armament efforts.
This time also brings the early death of Heinrich Diehl on November 7, 1938. Responsibility for the company and its now 2,800 staff is bestowed upon Margarete and Karl Diehl.
War aftermath and destruction:
In 1939, the company is ranked as a war-strategic establishment, and its first order involves manufacturing the AZ 23 fuse, which is followed by various other models. 20-mm cartridges are crafted at a separate factory, with up to 1.5 million being produced per month towards the war’s end.
Top priority is given to the quantities stipulated by the Reich authorities, although it becomes increasingly difficult to match these requirements as a drawback of hundreds of young specialists being called to the front. In the light of the staffing situation, the company soon finds itself having to employ prisoners of war, and later even forced laborers – something no production facility of this scale is able to avoid at this time. Diehl will later manage to have this chapter of its company history reappraised by independent historians, and in 1997 also establishes its own fund to support former forced laborers.
An intense air raid in August 1942 destroys part of the production plant on Stephanstraße. Later on, almost all the facilities in Röthenbach are destroyed or severely damaged.
Reconstruction and new beginnings:
The end of the war faces Diehl with challenges never before encountered. For a while, things are being dismantled as well as rebuilt side by side.
As a means of temporary employment, repair work is initially performed on state railway carriages, and used items like ladles and pots are manufactured by remelting lightweight scrap metal. This time also marks the start of Diehl’s clock production, the foundations of which had been laid even before the war.
The development of the mechanical calculator:
The first Diehl mechanical calculators are produced around the same early clock manufacturing begins. These devices are traditionally acknowledged as the peak of precision manufacturing. Further developed devices are presented and produced in cooperation with the trademark owner of the Archimedes mechanical calculators. Series production of the first model commences in 1952. With some 2,800 parts, it is one of the most complex devices ever produced by precision mechanics, capable of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
A fully automatic model follows just a few months later. The “transmatic” in 1963 sees the market adopt a printing calculating machine, which is regarded as the highlight of this device’s development.
From calculating machine to data system:
Diehl stops producing mechanical desktop calculators in 1972. The company is now focusing on electronic calculators, pooling all its expertise under Diehl Datensysteme GmbH.
In 1975, it takes over the majority holding of Konstanzer Computertechnik Müller GmbH, aiming to further develop the areas of midrange computing and text systems.
Factory 1 not rebuilt:
Diehl can claim to have been a groundbreaker in the field of continuous casting. This applies both to the lightweight metal continuous casting which began in the 1920s, and to the subsequent processing of copper and zinc alloys. New production processes and a changing demand in the post-war years require production plants to convert to high-quality copper and brass products.
This reorientation sees Factory 1 shut down, and the construction of comparatively large production facilities with modern processing centers in Röthenbach. The main customers during these initial years once again come from the automotive, but also the sanitary industry.
Diehl establishes an alarm clock factory:
At this time, it is logical for specialists in the production of precision components to also be involved with timepieces. The first Diehl clock is launched on the market in 1947, and a further development is already presented as early as 1948. The “diletta” becomes one of Diehl’s most successful clocks. Another highlight follows in 1959 with the now legendary “mini clock”, an alarm clock with an indestructible battery, which ended up having a production volume of 6.3 million items.
The clocks bearing the succinct Diehl lettering start a triumphal procession through German households, and many are still being used today.
Diehl becomes a partner of the household appliance industry:
In search for broader application areas for the company’s clock expertise, the Diehl developers come into contact with the household appliance industry in the late 1940s – an industry specializing in the process of technological upheaval. Diehl is hired by a major manufacturer to combine clock technology with switching operations. Similar manufacturing processes to those in the clock production industry, coupled with the same precision and reliability, quickly make Diehl an ideal partner for Europe’s leading whitegoods manufacturers.
By presenting the first fully electronic stove autotimer in 1977, Diehl becomes a market leader for these products. It also produces timers, time switches and installation autotimers for heating and air-conditioning systems.
The Heinrich Diehl Memorial Fund:
1952 marks the company’s fiftieth anniversary. Margarete and Karl Diehl decide to create the Heinrich Diehl Memorial Fund to support employees in need and to pay voluntary pensions to long-time staff members. The fund is established at the end of 1953.
Margarete Diehl dies shortly before at the age of 72.
The start of military technology production:
When the German Armed Forces is formed, Diehl becomes one of the first partners onboard and starts manufacturing 20 and 40-millimetre ammunition in a purpose-built factory in Röthenbach.
The purchase of the Backhaus foundry in Remscheid also allows tank treads to be produced. This is soon followed by a foundry in the Saarland town of Mariahütte, which is incorporated into the group under the name of “Karl Diehl Mariahütte”. Together with the newly founded explosives laboratory on the nearby Maasberg, the twin sites play a key role in the company’s military technology production in the decades to come.
Diehl buys Junghans:
Other than the successes achieved in the clock sector under its own name, in 1957 Diehl takes over the majority shareholding in its sister company Junghans AG, one of Europe’s largest clock factories at this time. In the following years, all of Diehl’s watchmaking activities will be pooled at the Schramberg facility.
Junghans is one of the first companies to use quartz crystal instead of the traditional balance wheel to regulate rate, and its oscillations are further processed by an integrated circuit. The high degree of rate precision achieved also impresses the organizers of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich: Junghans becomes the official timepiece of the world’s biggest sporting event to date.
Founding of Aero-Dienst GmbH:
In 1957, Karl Diehl becomes the first Bavarian entrepreneur to have his own company airplane. As Germany does not yet have appropriate aircraft maintenance facilities at this time, Karl Diehl and his cousin Karl Heinz Schmidt from Faun-Werke join forces to establish Aero-Dienst GmbH. The two-man band soon becomes a successful company which, in 1975, as an exclusive partner of ADAC, starts operating medivac flights as part of accident and breakdown insurance policies.
After Faun’s exit in 1980, Diehl also takes over all remaining shares in the company. Aero-Dienst is ceded to ADAC in 1998.
Acquisition of the Sundwiger Messingwerk:
Semi-finished products, once the nucleus of the company, still prove to be Diehl’s core business in the 1950s. In order to offer customers rods, pipes, forged parts, wires and strips all under one roof, Diehl decides to purchase the Sundwiger Messingwerk in 1958.
The company continues to expand its strip capacities in order to keep up with the rapid developments in electrical engineering and shifting towards electronics. Following the major overhaul in strip production in 1973, 0.1-mm-thick strips are exported to the Far East in larger and larger quantities. With a modern finishing mill, in 1982 the company becomes a pioneer in copper-alloy strip manufacturing.
Pooling military technology skills:
The constant expansion in the field of ammunition development leads to the construction of a separate development center in Röthenbach in 1971. Studies and important development tasks now make up a significant part of the company’s work.
In 1984, the success of this work results in the construction of a new center where knowledge of sensor systems, signal processing and flight mechanics is broadened, and research conducted in traditional weapon, active-load and detonator technologies.
This makes Diehl one of the industry’s most innovative companies.
From Noratlas to Airbus:
When Diehl receives its first order to maintain the autopilot functions of Noratlas aircraft during the early years of the German Armed Forces, the company further expands its aviation activities through licensed production. This includes anti-skid control boxes for the Starfighter (a type of ABS for aircraft), as well as developing ground equipment for NATO’s AWACS warning and control system.
In the years following years, this grows to become the company known as Diehl Luftfahrt Elektronik (DLE), one of Airbus’ original partners for cabin lighting and emergency power supplies.
Further expansion of military technology production:
The takeover of the Mauser factories in Oberndorf in 1979 is another step towards becoming a systems vendor for army equipment and the logistics thereof. Among other things, Mauser develops the 27-mm onboard cannon for the Tornado and Alpha-Jet fighter planes. The company also manufactures state-of-the-art coordinate measurement machinery, as well as hunting and sporting guns.
The end of the East-West conflict in the early ‘90s, and the resulting need to reorientate German military engineering, sees Diehl gradually terminate its dealings with Mauser by 1995 to focus more on developing and manufacturing modern ammunition for various applications.
A real firework of ideas:
Comet, one of Germany’s oldest manufacturers of pyrotechnic products, ranging from firework materials, to maritime distress signals and devices, to flare and signal ammunition, is taken over in 1979. The company, which had developed rocket drives for cars, rail vehicles and aircraft since as early as the 1920s in cooperation with Fritz von Opel, will round off Diehl’s work in military technology.
The consumption-oriented fireworks business will, however, always play a separate role within the group, and Comet is finally handed over to the British Chemring Group in 2005.
Diehl data systems:
Acquiring the majority of shares in Eurosil in the USA in 1975 is Diehl’s response to the booming microelectronics industry. Eurosil is a reputable manufacturer of semiconductors in the field of CMOS technology circuits, which are particularly marked by low power consumption and high reliability, and are ideal for use in clocks.
But when even the completion of a new semiconductor factory in Eching in 1981 cannot compete with the specific advantage offered by Eurosil semiconductors in view of the rapid technological developments, Diehl surrenders its Eurosil shares soon after.
Diehl switch systems take over households:
From constructing complex switch systems, to building the small electric motors inside them, to plastics technology and control systems, Diehl positions itself as a specialist in device controls.
The areas of application soon expand to cover the entire range of appliances found in kitchens and basement boiler rooms – with the only exception of “Wet” applications. For example two million items are produced in the socket timer industry in 1981, with the quantity doubling two years later. As a large portion of these is exported, the obvious choice is to also produce some items abroad. The American company Borg Instruments is purchased for this reason in 1985, and now manufactures stove autotimers and car clocks.
The eternal clock:
The world’s first wireless desk clock, which also uses solar energy as a power supply, sees Junghans make headlines for its 125th anniversary in 1986. The developers’ aim is to create a clock that runs perpetually and is never wrong. This aim is achieved in 1993 with Junghans’ MEGA SOLAR, the world’s first wireless solar watch, making the company an undisputed technological leader.
With an increasing focus on international sales activities, handing Junghans over to a strategic partner is a logical decision. This long-established chapter in Diehl’s company history ends in fall 2000.
Diehl does, however, keep Junghans Feinwerktechnik’s detonator production line.
The shift to systems provider:
For Diehl, the decline in classic ammunition goes hand in hand with the growth of new fields. In 1971, for example, it starts offering complete solutions for missile power supplies together with American battery specialist Eagle Picher.
Its work with end-phase-controlled – so-called “smart” – projectiles in 1975 gives rise to the “Bussard” projectile concept. Smart ammunition becomes one of the company’s new focus areas, and directly results in participation in the multilateral MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) development program.
1980: A generational change
Establishment of the Karl Diehl Foundation:
Karl Diehl establishes the “Karl Diehl Foundation for People in Need” in occasion of his 80th birthday on May 4, 1987. Receiving regular funding by Diehl, the foundation is aimed at active and former staff of the Diehl Group and their family members at all locations around the world, as well as people from the Nuremberg region, regardless of religion or nationality.
The foundation operates in areas where aid is urgently needed but where government agencies are unable to intervene.
A partner at a national and international level:
In 1988, Diehl becomes the overall European integrator of the MLRS arms system and helps develop the RAM system (Rolling Airframe Missile) for ship-based combating of airborne targets. The company uses these and other prominent cooperation projects – including the Smart sensor-fused ammunition etc. – to position itself as a systems provider at both national and international level.
The switch systems division moves to Donaustraße:
The impressive developments in the switch systems division forces the production plant to move from its historic Stephanstraße premises (Factory 2) to a modern factory. Being the largest single investment in the company’s history to date, this involves building a spacious facility on Nuremberg’s Donaustraße, which the department moves into in November 1989. New markets in Europe and the USA are to be unlocked from here.
High-tech from Lake Constance:
Diehl’s acquisition of Bodenseewerk Gerätetechnik (BGT) in 1989 sees it take a majority holding in a company regarded as one of the greatest historic manufacturers of aviation equipment, and which has an outstanding reputation as the general contractor for the European production program of the Sidewinder AIM-9B air-to-air missile and as the manufacturer of guided missiles and aviation equipment.
BGT has extensive experience in managing major European missile programs and can also boast a broad technology basis both in military technology and civil avionics.
Maintenance of armored and unarmored vehicles of the German Armed Forces and occasionally also the American Armed Forces adds another line of business to Diehl’s military technology ventures. Five vehicle specialists are hired for this purpose between 1986 and 1994, and pooled together to form one powerful unit: FFG Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (until 2001), Neubrandenburger Fahrzeugwerke (until 2001), Industriewerke Saar in Freisen (until 2015), Ichendorfer Fahrzeug- und Instandsetzungs GmbH (until 1993) and FFT Fahrzeugbau und Fahrzeugtechnik in Mainz (until 1999).
This, coupled with extensive expertise, gives rise to a civil vehicle production facility which primarily serves customers from municipalities, aid services and parcel distributors.
Diehl acknowledges the steady decline in maintenance orders up to 2015 by gradually withdrawing from this line of business.
Acquisition of AKO-Werke strengthens the switch systems division:
By purchasing AKO-Werke, based in the Swabian town of Wangen, in 1996, Diehl closes the strategic “wet” industry gap (washing machines, driers and dishwashers) for its appliance controls. AKO is a leader here, having developed electrical controls for the first fully automatic washing machines in 1956.
Diehl is now one of Europe’s biggest suppliers of the whitegoods industry, and Diehl products feature as high-quality brand-name products in virtually every household.
Repositioning in the aviation equipment sector:
With its partner Sextant Avionique, in 1993 Diehl takes over VDO Luftfahrtgeräte GmbH, the supplier of display management computers for the Airbus family. Together with the BGT area of controls and navigation, Diehl Avionik Systeme GmbH is founded in 1999, pooling Diehl’s activities in the fields of electronic flight and engine controls, digital display systems, onboard computers and sensors.
Diehl now does business with Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers in addition to Airbus.
Identification system activities pooled:
In order to more systematically handle the rapidly growing identification systems market, and pool together the various Diehl activities in this field, an independent company, Diehl Ident GmbH, is founded in 1995. This includes base technologies used to identify animate beings or objects, cash and order systems, and wireless consumption recording. In this way, Diehl acquires know-how and experience which will benefit later developments – e.g. in the field of metering.
Diehl ammunition facilities merged:
The rapid decline in military products resulting from the end of the East-West opposition forces the previously independent Diehl ammunition facilities in Röthenbach und Mariahütte/Maasberg to be merged into one ammunition business unit in 1995. The aim is to maintain the facilities but also better utilize the synergies.
In doing so, Diehl starts preparing itself early for the changes to come in the defense business.
IRIS-T program starts:
The company’s own “IRIS-T” short-range air-to-air missile rocket is successfully tested in 1996. Six nations – Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway and Sweden – sign a government agreement to start the development phase. This allows BGT to once again demonstrate its skills, providing the right conditions for the state-of-the-art short-range air-to-air missile intended to succeed the legendary “Sidewinder”.
In 2003, the German Parliament approves series preparation and production of a pilot batch. BGT’s position as a technological leader in mastering important key components such as seeker heads, guiding parts and control parts is further underlined by this success.
AIM becomes the new partner of BGT:
BGT takes over Heilbronn-based AIM Infrarot-Module GmbH together with a partner in 1997. The high-technology company develops and produces key components for imaging and signal-processing infrared radiation. AIM’s core competency lies in technologically mastering the entire signal chain, from semiconductors as highly integrated sensors, to A/D conversion, up to standard digital interfaces for imaging.
The company has close ties with BGT as a result of long-time cooperations.
Metal business further strengthened:
To complement its product range, in 1997 Diehl takes over French company Griset, based in Villers-Saint-Paul a leading manufacturer of copper step tapes and copper-alloy tape for the electronics industry. Bavarian Minister President Dr. Edmund Stoiber officially launches a new indirect extruder at the Röthenbach facility in 1998. With this major investment marking the 60th anniversary of the factory’s founding, the Diehl family business once again reaffirms its commitment to the German country and providing jobs.
In a bid to work the Chinese market, a cutting and service center is established in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in 1999. One year later, Diehl takes over the American “Miller Company” in Meriden, a major manufacturer of copper and copper-alloy tape, which is also considered a specialist in bronze tape.
Karl Diehl orders a family foundation:
To secure the Diehl Group’s role as an independent family business for generations to come, Karl Diehl orders that the company be renamed Diehl Stiftung & Co in 1998. This does not affect the capital structures. A supervisory board is established, initially only consisting of shareholders, but later also expanding to include external members. The board is chaired by Karl Diehl.
Diehl continues to focus on achieving successful financial targets.
Pooling resources in aviation and ammunition:
At the beginning of 2000, Diehl merges the two business divisions of Ammunition and Aviation into the new “Defence Systems & Avionics” (“VA-Systeme”) division.
The aim of the new structure is to pool and strategically coordinate all energies and resources from both areas in order to be a more powerful force on the market. With almost 4,000 staff and a sales turnover of around DM 1.1 billion, the new business division is now strong enough to compete with the major global players.
Restructuring into four subgroups:
The only way to ensure the independence of the Diehl family business for the long term is to earn consistently high sales revenues. This requires operational units capable of reacting flexibly in the increasingly global competition and utilizing the opportunities offered by the market.
The group’s corporate structure, which has grown and adapted over decades, is thus adjusted to the company’s localized management structure. In future, Diehl will consist of four subgroups: “Metall”, “Controls”, “Geräte” and “VA Systeme”.
The “Geräte” (equipment) subgroup is integrated into Diehl VA Systeme in 2001.
The Euro arrives – with the help of Diehl:
The Euro is to start being simultaneously introduced in Germany and an initial ten other countries in 2002. An incredible 70 billion coins weighing a total of around 250,000 tons are planned to meet preliminary demand. There will be eight denominations of the hard currency, from the 1-cent piece to the 2-Euro piece. Copper-plated steel for the three lowest values, and bicolor made from two different colored metals for the two highest values. Nordic Gold, a material consisting of copper, zinc, tin and aluminum, is used in between. Everything in top quality, with exact tolerances.
The Sundwiger Messingwerk and Griset supply some of the base material for the new currency.
Controls set up internationally:
As requested by international customers, Diehl Controls opens new production facilities abroad in quick succession, starting with Diehl Controls (Nanjing) in China in 2001. This is followed by Diehl Controls Mexico in Querétaro two years later, and reaches its provisional highlight in 2006 with the opening of its own development center in Poland.
Diehl turns 100:
Diehl’s centenary is celebrated by the family and company, along with customers and partners from all over the world, in Nuremberg. Several thousands long-time staff are also invited, representing all of the group’s employees around the globe. The festivities of course revolve around Karl Diehl, the company’s senior partner, who uses the anniversary as an opportunity to transfer chairmanship of the supervisory board to his eldest son, Werner Diehl.
Diehl, a prominent figure in the Airbus A380 with major work packages:
With 555 passengers and a range of 14,800 kilometers, the Airbus’ new A380 commercial jet will set new standards in rapid intercontinental travel, comfort, profitability and eco-friendliness. In 2003, Diehl is awarded the contract to build an entire series of important base systems, ranging from cockpit equipment to flight controls, to cabin systems. The new door control developments performed in Frankfurt see fully automatic passenger doors used on an aircraft for the first time.
Diehl will also contribute major work packages to the subsequent Airbus A350.
Hydrometer joins the Diehl Group:
Hydrometer, a company previously run privately by the Diehl family, joins the Diehl Group in 2003. Hydrometer GmbH based in Ansbach and Apolda, along with its subsidiaries Sappel (France), Mirometr (Poland), Elin Wasserwerkstechnik (Austria), MOM (Hungary) and Sappel do Brasil (Brazil), is an international association whose 900 staff produce more than 3 million water and heat meters a year.
Major investments in the Metall division:
The founding of Diehl Synchro Tec Manufacturing in Wuxi in 2003 sees Diehl Metall set its sights on the strategic Chinese market, with a view to quickly and flexibly supply the local automotive companies with synchro rings. A major investment is made in 2004 to expand the Sundwig strip rolling mill for further developments in continuous strip casting systems. This further cements the company’s position as the world’s biggest manufacturer of cast copper-alloy strips for the semiconductor and connector industry.
This is followed up in 2005 by the construction of a new press, and in 2009 by a new vertical casting system – both in Röthenbach, and both major investments to secure the company’s competitive position.
Founding of Diehl BGT Defence GmbH:
2004 sees the two subsidiaries Bodenseewerk Gerätetechnik and Diehl Munitionssysteme in the VA Systeme subgroup merged to form Diehl BGT Defence GmbH (DBD), their respective missile and ammunitions business pooled into one company with headquarters in Überlingen.
In doing so, Diehl caters to the future requirements of the German Armed Forces, which is undergoing a dramatic change in terms of size, structure and approach as a result of new and different threats. DBD employs around 1,800 staff at its branches in Überlingen, Maasberg/Mariahütte and Röthenbach.
Diehl wins series contract for the IRIS-T missile:
By signing the contract for series production of the air-to-air IRIS-T guided missile in 2004, Diehl secures the biggest contract in its company history. The program sees Germany act as the leading nation for the other participating countries (Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden), and Diehl BGT Defence becomes the general contractor.
By signing the contract for series production of the air-to-air IRIS-T guided missile in 2004, Diehl secures the biggest contract in its company history. The program sees Germany act as the leading nation for the other participating countries (Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden), and Diehl BGT Defence becomes the general contractor.
Diehl Aerospace pools Diehl’s aviation business:
In 2006, Diehl Luftfahrt Elektronik in Nuremberg and Diehl Avionik Systeme form a new company, Diehl Aerospace GmbH, which employs around 1,200 staff at its branches in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Rostock, Sterrett (USA), Toulouse (France) and Überlingen.
The pooled activities create a strong global partner for the aviation industry, which continues the long tradition maintained by both systems supplies in commercial and military aviation.
Diehl takes over the remaining shares in DBD:
In 2006, Diehl takes over the majority share of Diehl BGT Defence, becoming the company’s full owner. An agreement between Diehl and Thales to establish the joint detonator subsidiary Junghans Microtec that same year lays the foundations for a globally operating industry leader in Europe. The new company has bases in La-Ferté-Saint-Aubin and Dunningen-Seedorf, with some 350 employees.
In 2007, Diehl VA Systeme is split into the two subgroups Diehl Defence and Diehl Aerosystems.
Diehl now also produces steel synchro rings:
Brass synchro rings for the automotive industry have been among Diehl Metall’s most successful products for fifty years. The numbers of rings manufactured has long exceeded the billion mark. Following stricter requirements for synchro rings as a result of increasing engine power, revolution speeds and torques, the trend now shifts towards steel synchro rings with new wear-proof carbon friction coating, especially for vehicles in higher categories.
Minister President Dr. Günther Beckstein opens Diehl Metall’s new steel synchro ring production plant in Röthenbach in 2007, which has been built to cater to the growing demand. This sees recent investments at the metal division’s base in Röthenbach for a total of around 50 million Euros.
Karl Diehl turns 100:
Karl Diehl celebrates his 100th birthday on May 4, 2007. The staff congratulate him with a giant birthday card on the exterior of the Nuremberg head office, made up of several thousands of photos. The birthday boy is surrounded by family, friends, companions and representatives from all areas of public life at a big birthday party in Nuremberg’s city hall Rathaussaal.
The city of Nuremberg celebrates its honorary citizen as part of a separate reception.
Karl Diehl dies:
Karl Diehl dies on January 19, 2008 at the age of 100. His death marks the end of an era for Diehl. Unwavering optimism, a special knack for dealing with people, and a high degree of enthusiasm, coupled with entrepreneurial foresight, formed the basis of his successful life. Without Karl Diehl, Diehl would not exist the way it does today. The staff join his entire family, friends and companions in mourning.
The founding of the Irmgard Children’s Foundation:
In a bid to fulfill Karl Diehl’s final wish, his son Werner Diehl establishes the Irmgard Diehl Children’s Foundation in memory of Irmgard Diehl, Karl Diehl’s late wife (d. 1965) and the mother of his three sons.
The foundation helps abused, traumatized, socially disadvantaged and disabled children and adolescents in Upper Franconia, Central Franconia and Swabia – the centerpoints of Irmgard Diehl’s life. The foundation provides assistance with medical/therapeutic treatments not otherwise covered by health funds, particularly treatments involving horses, dogs and dolphins.
Diehl and Thales take over the Airbus factory in Laupheim:
In October 2008, Diehl and Thales take over the Airbus factory in Laupheim, which will from now on trade under Diehl Aircabin GmbH. The successful acquisition sees Diehl and Thales create the conditions necessary for becoming cabin-integration partners for the major aircraft manufacturers – a line of business which complements both companies’ other aviation activities.
As a competence center for aircraft cabins, the Laupheim factory will benefit considerably from the new alliance formed with its sister company Diehl Aerospace. In 2012, Thales cedes its shares in Diehl Aircabin to Diehl.
The Hydrometer Group becomes Diehl Metering:
The positive developments of the Hydrometer Group in recent years, coupled with its increased importance to the Diehl Group, see the company managed as a Metering subgroup from mid-2010 onwards. The Diehl Metering companies develop and manufacture high-precision measurement devices for water, thermal energy, gas and electricity – some have indeed been doing so for around 150 years. Every year, more than 6 million measurement devices and 3.5 million radio modules are produced at the companies’ own factories worldwide.
Diehl Metal Applications starts operations:
2010 sees six companies in Germany and France merge together under the name Diehl Metal Applications GmbH in the Diehl Metall subgroup. These include Sundwiger Messingwerk and Diehl Metall (Shenzhen), as well as Diehl Augé Decoupage, OTB Oberflächentechnik in Berlin, Diehl Power Electronic and Zehdenick Innovative Metall- und Kunststofftechnik (ZIMK), all four of which had been taken over in the previous years.
Schempp & Decker in Berlin joins these in 2012. This step sees Diehl Metall create a value chain fully integrated across all locations, covering strip manufacturing, surface refinement, die cutting, forming and insert-molding with plastic.
Diehl Defence Land Systems pools Diehl’s vehicle business:
In 2011, the Defence subgroup pools its vehicle business, consisting of the companies Industriewerke Saar and Diehl Remscheid, under the umbrella of Diehl Defence Land Systems GmbH, which continues business activities in the specialized areas of system chains for armored vehicles and maintenance of military vehicles.
A new product area revolving around remodeling and upgrading military vehicles is also created. The operational business of Diehl Land Systems GmbH is ceded to Krauss Maffei Wegmann in 2015.
Diehl Aerosystems enriches its portfolio:
By taking over DASELL Cabin Interior GmbH (2010) and acquiring Hamburg-based galley manufacturer Mühlenberg Interiors (2011), Diehl Aerosystems is able to further expand its portfolio as a leading provider of avionics products and aircraft-cabin solutions.
The subgroup is now able to offer complete packages or individual products from an extensive range – which also includes avionics solutions, cabin electronics and lighting, cabin cladding, luggage bins and monuments – according to customer requirements.
The new additions are integrated into the subgroup under Diehl Comfort Modules and Diehl Service Modules. Construction begins on another Diehl Aircabin branch in the Hungarian town of Nyírbátor in 2011.
Diehl integrates AOA Apparatebau Gauting:
Diehl takes over AOA Apparatebau Gauting GmbH in the summer of 2014, and integrates the company into the Aerosystems subgroup. AOA is a medium-sized corporate group with bases in Oberpfaffenhofen (Gilching) and Dresden, as well as customer service centers in Dallas (Texas) and Singapore.
The company provides innovative system solutions for water supplies, wastewater disposal, fire detection and air conditioning for the aviation industry. It employs around 475 staff.
The 2015 Factory of the Year is in Wangen:
The Wangen facility of the Diehl Controls subgroup is awarded the prestigious title of “2015 Factory of the Year” as overall winner of the “Factory of the Year/Global Excellence in Operations” benchmark competition. The judges make special note of Diehl Controls’ success in optimizing every dimension of the core PCB assembly process, labeling the factory a global leader in this core competency for many high-tech products.
Shareholder Peter Diehl dies:
The company and Diehl family mourn Peter Diehl, partner and deputy supervisory board chair of the Diehl Foundation, who dies on February 6, 2016 aged 66, following prolonged illness. Brothers Peter Diehl and Dr. Thomas Diehl have already ensured the perpetuation of the family business by including their children (fourth generation of the family) as shareholders in 2012.
The Diehl family gifts unique Dürer collection to the City of Nuremberg:
106 precious copper engravings and etchings and 37 wood carvings by Nuremberg master Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) from Karl Diehl’s estate are give as a gift to the City of Nuremberg by his family in spring 2016. It was Karl Diehl’s wish that the famous master’s collection of engravings (virtually in its entirety) be kept together and made accessible to interested audiences.
Nuremberg Lord Mayor Dr. Maly labels the “generous donation” one of the most important art donations ever made to Nuremberg. Selected works from the collection are displayed by the Kunstsammlungen der Stadt Nürnberg (Nuremberg Municipal Museums) as part of a special exhibition during the summer. The exhibition is opened by the King and Queen of The Netherlands, Their Majesties Willem-Alexander and Máxima.
Digital Transformation started within Diehl:
The official go-ahead for digital transformation of the company was given at last year's meeting of the corporate senior management group held in July 2016. The objective of the group-wide change process is to even better utilize the opportunities of digital technologies for today's business as well as future business, and to provide all employees with a better understanding of it.
Grief at the death of Dr. Thomas Diehl:
Dr.-Ing. E.h. Thomas Diehl, Shareholder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Diehl Stiftung GmbH & Co. KG, dies on April 16, 2017 aged 66. Together with his family, the Diehl Group mourns for its highly esteemed head of the company which he successfully managed and shaped with impressive farsightedness, outstanding expertise and paternal care over the past nearly 25 years. He was a passionate engineer who inspired and challenged the company with his ideas.