Agru Co. founder Alois Gruber Sr. passed away June 23, 2014.
A company press release said he was born March 28, 1925, and grew up in Steinbach an der Steyr, Austria. He trained in metal works with the company Pressl Steinbach.
During WWII, he served in the armed forces and was held in captivity in Normandy. After the war, he obtained a master craftsman-certificate in metal works and opened his first workshop in Waldneukirchen in 1948 under the name Alois Gruber GmbH.
His initial works included mending pots, making stoves for farmhouses, and making stainless steel frames. Later innovations included the anodization of aluminium profiles, a process that is still carried out at the Waldneukirchen factory today. As a pioneer in his field, Gruber successfully built up the export side of the business as well, according to the press release.
In 1954, he moved his workshop to Bad Hall, Austria, and the current global headquarters for Alois Gruber GmbH companies. He married Eleonore (née Elsdörfer) Gruber and had two children, Ingrid and Alois II. Together with his family he purchased and restored the Castle Kammerhub in Bad Hall.
The release said that by 1961, Gruber had launched the beginning of plastics processing for Agru. In 1979, the Waldneukirchen factory was expanded for the anodization and powder coating of a variety of metal and aluminum profiles. The factory in Bad Hall was then used exclusively for the processing of plastics.
The introduction of plastic pipes, fittings, and sheeting to the Agru product line resulted in a steady growth of the business. Agru was the world’s first company to manufacture sheets with widths of five and seven meters using flat cast die technology, according to the company press release.
Gruber continued to play an active role in the company until 2004. Today Agru Global Cos. are leading manufacturers of specialty piping systems and geosynthetics. They employ more than 1,000 people, with factories located in Austria, United States, China, India, Germany, Poland, and South America with distribution in more than 80 countries, the release said.
Away from work, Gruber’s great passions included skiing and golf and his enthusiasm was often contagious. As a youth, he spent lots of time skiing and as an adult he often visited Egon Zimmermann, the 1964 Austrian Olympic downhill gold medalist, at the Hotel Kristberg in Lech am Arlberg. He also enjoyed the ocean in South Carolina, and visiting the Canary Islands each year.
In the U.S., Agru America Inc. is based in Georgetown, S.C.
Agru GmbH is a 100% family owned and managed company since 1948 and is now controlled and managed by Alois Gruber II.