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Leitz diversifies into machinery tools

A new phase of product development started for the by now 30-year-old company Leitz in 1906: the complete adaptation to the new demand in the market for mechanisation of wood processing. Tools for mechanical woodworking presented a major source of risk due to high speeds and hence the implementation of technical safety aspects emerged as a key factor.The tooling programme was extended considerably to Machinery knives, Cutterheads and Wedges, for which Leitz was rewarded with a gold medal in Zwickau. This new range now supplemented the existing machine boring bits.

The industrial character of the company was revealed to a greater extent.Participation in Industrial exhibitions increased and gold medals were won in 1908 in Toulouse and 1911 in Turin . Then Albert Leitz launched his first cutting tools that was protected by patent, the safety cutterhead "Zwerg DRGM 46 8337", and the accent of production was shifted to tools for woodworking machinery. This took place in 1908 when crown drills, relieved cutters and tongue- and groove cutters for single spindle machines were included in the programme.

A little before the First World War, on February 17th, Albert Leitz retired and nominated his sons Albert Leitz (died in 1951) and Fritz Leitz (died in 1941) to succeed him to continue the good work he had done in his lifetime. The "Wurttembergische Holzbohrerfabrik A. Leitz, Oberkochen", now traded under the name "Gebrüder Leitz, Bohrer- und Werkzeugfabrik, Oberkochen".

A big catalogue that was published in spring 1913 gives a picture about the production of the second decade of the 20th century: "Our company now consists of an extensive production facility in which seventy up-to-date machines are driven by steam power of 100 hp." The tools offered by the catalogue ranged from Gimlet Bit to equipment for plugging and slotting with more than 200 numbers in different dimensions. The catalogue also showed, for the first time, the Leitz trade mark that was protected by the imperial Patent Office Berlin. The workforce now accounted for about 80 people.

The history of the company in the following years is reflected by the extensions and new buildings in 1912, 1920, 1923, 1925 and 1928. It was determined by the effort to keep up with the progress and requirements of the mechanisation and industrialisation of the woodworking industry and the wish to give technical impulses through new developments. The catalogue of 1912 offered a novelty with the first window equipment for interior profiles in form of a cutterhead. The catalogue was published in several foreign languages, a sign for the development of the export business after the break of the First World War.

Ups and downs in between the World Wars

It was Albert Leitz jun. who first applied himself to work with the foreign markets. The sales company Emil Leitz, Oberkochen, founded in 1921, concentrated a lot in this area of business. This exporting business helped in overcoming the inflation and created new employment and in 1927 the company accounted for 180 employees. Leitz gained international reputation. But the exports could not prevent Gebrüder Leitz from the subsequent international crisis after the boom of 1927/28, and was severely affected. The years of the "job creation" after 1933 did bring a temporary revival of the business - in 1936 a modern multi-storey production facility could be built - But the slowdown also led Fritz Leitz to leave the company in 1938. In his own company "Fritz Leitz machinery-making" he dedicated himself until his early death in 1941 mainly to the production of aircraft parts, construction parts and aggregates.

As Gebrüder Leitz was not considered important for armament, the company continued working with restricted workforce, and there was no increase in machinery equipment between 1937 and 1948. The continuation of the programme for machinery tools in these years and the relationship sustained with the customers allowed a new start in 1948 after the improvement in the economic conditions.