In 1874, Franz Josef Forster opened a coppersmith’s shop producing hot-water bottles, cookware and other receptacles. The company changed its name to Hermann Forster AG in 1922. By this time, it was manufacturing steel tubes.
In 1904, Karl Schnitzler set up a factory to make heat exchangers under the Arbonia brand.
In 1954, Arbonia AG was established.
In 1973, the majority of the shares in Hermann Forster AG were transferred to Arbonia AG, which had been wholly owned by Jakob Züllig since 1959. The Arbonia-Forster Group comprised Hermann Forster AG (steel tubes technology, kitchens and refrigeration equipment), Arbonia AG (radiators and heaters), Asta AG (road transport) and Buhler-Regina AG (embroidery supplies).
In 1987, AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding AG was registered with the commercial register with CHF 30 million in share capital. A year later, the company was listed on the stock exchange.
In 1999, Jakob Züllig, majority shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, died. Prolux Heizkörper AG was bought in the same year.
In 2001, AFG took over the German company Kermi GmbH, which provided a major boost for its radiator and shower stall business.
In 2003, the Züllig estate sold its majority interest to Dr Edgar Oehler, the new CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In 2004, there were three acquisitions: Bruno Piatti AG, Dietlikon ZH (CH); EgoKiefer AG, Altstätten SG (CH); and Spedition Gächter GmbH, Stachen-Arbon TG (CH).
In 2005, there followed a further acquisition: in September, AFG acquired Miele Kitchens, based in Warendorf (D), from the German company Miele & Cie. KG, based in Gütersloh (D).
In 2006, the Group acquired Schmidlin ASCO Swiss AG, Zwingen BL. The company specialises in underfloor convectors which, alongside their conventional heating function, can also be used for cooling.
In 2007, AFG acquired STI Surface Technologies International Holding AG, Steinach SG (CH) and RWD Schlatter AG, Roggwil SG (CH). In September, AFG acquired the British company Aqualux Products Holdings Ltd.
In 2008, AFG took over Slovaktual s.r.o., Slovakia’s leading windows manufacturer. In October, AFG set up a new Asia Pacific regional branch with headquarters in Shanghai (CN).
In 2009, AFG presented its new Warendorf brand of kitchens. This represents the successor to the Miele Kitchens (Miele Die Küche) brand.
In 2010, shareholders at AFG’s ordinary General Meeting approved the abolition of the hitherto unequal weighting of registered shares and bearer shares, introducing a single class of registered shares.
In 2011, Edgar Oehler was succeeded as Chairman of the Board of Directors by Paul Witschi on 29 April and as CEO by Daniel Frutig on 1 June.
In 2012, AFG sold its transport and logistics business Asta, its British subsidiary Aqualux and the German company Warendorf. With the acquisition of the Polish window manufacturer Dobroplast, it focused on expanding one of its core business areas.
In 2013, AFG intensified its focus on its core business based on building envelope and interior. It sold off Forster Refrigeration Technology as well as Forster Precision Steel Tubes.
In 2014, the AFG kitchen business and the STI Group were sold. AFG acquired Sabiana, a market leader in commercial heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. Artemis Beteiligungen I AG, led by Michael Pieper, became AFG’s new main shareholder.
In 2015, the General Meeting elected Alexander von Witzleben as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors. In July, he also assumed the role of interim CEO. In August, the Board of Directors decided to relocate the production plants to other European countries as a result of significant pressure from competition. The Eastern German window manufacturer Wertbau GmbH was also acquired in August. As part of a capital increase carried out with the aim of strengthening the Group’s financial standing, Artemis Beteiligungen I AG reaffirmed its commitment to the Group and, by the end of the year, had increased its stake to just under 28%.
In 2016, AFG acquired the Koralle Group, a specialist in sanitary facilities. The move marks an expansion of the Building Technology Division’s product range and will help it enhance its position in the core markets of Switzerland, Germany and Austria with a lasting effect. In September, AFG announced the takeover of the Looser Group, which is also active in the building supply business and consists of two main arms: doors (Prüm, Garant and Invado) and industrial services (Condecta). This transaction represents an important step in AFG’s efforts to achieve its strategic goal of becoming a leading European building supplier. As part of this transaction, AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding AG was renamed Arbonia AG.
In 2017, Arbonia’s takeover of the Looser Group can come to a successful conclusion. Looser’s Coatings business is sold in full in the first half of the year. In November, Arbonia is also selling Looser’s Condecta Group. With the sale of the Profile Systems Business Unit in December, Arbonia will continue to focus on its three core areas of building technology, windows and doors. Following the split of the Building Technology Division in January 2018, this will become four core areas: HVAC, sanitary equipment, windows and doors.
In 2018, Arbonia is taking an active part in the European market consolidation process in the area of design and steel panel radiators by acquiring the Belgian company Vasco Group for its Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Division. The acquisition will expand its geographical footprint and strengthen the division’s range of products.
2019 stands for the Arbonia Group’s commitment to development and optimization of its business models. The restructuring phase begun in 2015 is completed this year. In January, the company founds ARBONIA DIGITAL. This independently operating subsidiary pursues the goal of working together with the divisions to create digital solutions, services and business models that focus on customers and their needs. Also in January, the Doors Division, together with the Berlin-based PropTech company KIWI GmbH, presents a fully integrated, digital access solution for residential entrance doors for the first time at the BAU trade fair in Munich. In October, Arbonia opens its new production site for panel radiators in Russia, which will enable the HVAC Division to achieve further growth in Eastern European markets, especially in Russia.
2020 is a successful year for Arbonia, although it is challenging due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Arbonia continues to focus on the relevant drivers of energy efficiency, urbanisation, digitalisation and automation. It is continuing to push ahead with the expansion and modernisation of its production capacities in all divisions and at all locations.
In 2021, Arbonia is focusing on accelerating the further development of its two divisions, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Doors, primarily through organic growth but also through acquisitions. The former Sanitary Equipment Division is being integrated into the Doors Division at the beginning of July and the Windows Division is being sold.
2022 is a challenging year due to material price increases, the energy crisis, supply bottlenecks and the strength of the Swiss franc. However, Arbonia continues to focus on the further development of modern products for energy-efficient and self-sufficient buildings, such as heat pumps, ventilation systems, underfloor heating and battery storage. In the doors segment, the new door frame plant in Prüm (D) opened, and the construction of the new logistics centre in Roggwil (CH) will shorten delivery times for customers in Switzerland. In July, Arbonia acquires the German company joro türen GmbH, a manufacturer of special project doors. In December, it signs the purchase agreement for the Portuguese HVAC distribution company Cirelius S.A. in order to increase its activities in Portugal and Spain.