Simple prototype led to success

The Liebherr company, headquartered in Bulle, Switzerland, and with annual sales of €8.2bn, has 120 operations globally and more than 33,000 employees.

Started by a German man Hans Liebherr in the years after the Second World War, he saw the opportunities for crane manufacturing that would be created in his country’s post-war rebuilding programme.

It all started when he created a simple prototype crane in 1949 which could speed up the rebuilding of residential and industrial areas.

Liebherr’s plan was to build an affordable tower crane that could be transported quickly and erected easily.

The Killarney plant, built in 1958, was Liebherr’s first foreign subsidiary and a significant stepping stone to a manufacturing multinational whose operations now include aircraft parts, mining equipment and household appliances, such as fridges and freezers, as well as cranes.

Mr Liebherr maintained close links with the Killarney operation and went on to develop three top-class hotels in the area, which are now an integral part of the local tourism infrastructure.

He died in 1993 and the company is now run by his son Willi and daughter Isolde who have maintained the family’s connection with Killarney and given commitments to long-term investment there.

Killarney-manufactured cranes, mainly used nowadays for loading and unloading ships, are to be found in 75 ports in 44 countries, with the Middle East being the biggest market.


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