The company Walter Graf u. Co. was founded on 1 July 1923 by Walter Graf together with a partner in the Thuringian Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig.
The picture shows the first production facility of Walter Graf & Co. in Schmiedefeld, an inn, where 15 employees worked in the basement.
The newly founded company Walter Graf u. Co. started its business activities with the production of injection syringes made of glass. The demand for all-glass syringes, a further development of the so-called record syringes consisting of glass cylinders and metal parts, was already very high at that time.
The production of these glass syringes then as now required great craftsmanship. Only over the years production auxiliaries and tools were used that had been manufactured according to the company’s own ideas and contributed to a much more efficient production.
From 1927, Walter Graf continued to run the company alone. He moved into additional rooms in his father-in-law’s estate in order to expand production.
Also in 1927, the first catalogue ‘Glass Instruments and Devices for Surgery, Nursing, Laboratory’ was published.
Primarily, the company worked for export, especially to the USA.
The trademark FORTUNA WGCO – under the sign of the goddess of fortune – was entered in the trademark register.
In 1932 and 1933, great difficulties had to be overcome, as customers from America no longer accepted deliveries. The following years were mastered with great effort. The picture shows the expanded production facility.
In 1935 a new development was launched on the market, the “ORIGINAL FORTUNA Pipette D.R.G.M”.
This is a combination of pipette and suction pump. It was no longer necessary to pipette by mouth with graduated pipettes, bulb pipettes and Westergren blood test pipettes, but instead could aspirate the liquid with the glass piston. This has significantly improved safety in the laboratory. The Original graduated and bulb pipettes are still available in modified form in the product range today.
During the World War II, the company was a supplier to the specialised trade and the German medical services. In the meantime, the staff had grown to 30 employees. After the collapse in 1945, the state of Thuringia on behalf of the Russian Occupation Forces ordered for reparation purposes significant quantities of glass cylinders for record syringes and Janet cylinders, of which the production had already begun in 1927.
It was thanks to the organizational skills of Walter Graf that in the difficult years 1947-1948 a respectable new factory building could still be built.
Unfortunately, due to the changed circumstances in the eastern part of Germany, there were few opportunities for free business development in the future.
Therefore, in the summer of 1950, the family decided to move to Wertheim, where several glass manufacturing companies had already found a home. In the basement of a building in the former air base at the Reinhardshof a new chapter in the company´s history began.
Still in 1950, loyal employees from Thuringia followed the company to Wertheim.
The production of glass syringes, cylinders and laboratory equipment offered the possibility of new training positons. The city of Wertheim and the state of Baden-Württemberg also provided active support for the reconstruction.
In 1951, the US Army took over the Reinhardshof area. In the meantime, a new building had been constructed in Wertheim-Hofgarten.
New production methods were introduced. The first machines for series production were purchased. A catalogue published in 1950 especially for glass syringes contributed to a very good employment situation. The company did pioneering work in the field of screen printing for glass equipment. From 1953/1954 this marking process was successfully applied.
The picture shows the new company building in Wertheim-Hofgarten, 1951.
The two sons Helmut and Siegfried Graf, who were already active in the Thuringian company, joined the company as partners in 1950 and 1953 respectively.Until the beginning of the 1960s, the parts for injection syringes were individually machined, pistons and cylinders were fitted individually.
Walter Graf u. Co. GmbH was one of the first companies in Europe to introduce the new revolutionary technique of calibrating glass tubes to µ-tolerances (0.001mm) for the production of glass cylinders.
Now it was possible to produce piston/cylinder systems interchangeably.
The picture shows an extract from a catalogue from 1952.
In 1967, another catalogue “FORTUNA® Glassware for Measurement Analysis” was published.
Walter Graf died unexpectedly on 15 March 1968 during this construstion phase, leaving a painful gap. After his death his sons Helmut and Siegfried continued to run the company.
In 1970 it was decided to take over the buildings of the neighboring company and thus increase the production capacity.
In 1973 the new catalogue “GRAF Glass 73” with 350 pages was published.
In the following years, a structural change took place in the use of classic laboratory glasses, the demand for semi-automatic pipetting auxiliaries increased. Hazardous chemicals in particular had to be able to be dosed safely and quickly.
The breakthrough came in 1976 with the FORTUNA® OPTIFIX® bottle top dispenser, which – continously being further developed – is today one of the best products in its class.
In 1983, in the year of the company’s 60th anniversary, a new dosing system was successfully launched on the market, a special microprocessor-controlled dosing station FORTUNA OPTIMAT.
1.1.1984 Hans Graf joins the company. After a stay abroad, he rejoined the family business in 1986. In 1988 he was given power of attorney. On 1.7.1989 a new partnership agreement came into force in which the question of succession was clearly regulated. On 1.7.1989 Hans Graf was granted individual power of attorney. On 20.1.1992 Hans Graf became managing director with sole power of representation and managed the company together with Siegfried Graf.
A new catalogue is published in 1985.
In 1990, shareholder Helmut Graf decided to leave the management for personal reasons. He continued working for the company as a consultant.
A new catalogue is published in 1992.
In 1993, at the ILMAC conference and expo in Basel, the new FORTUNA OPTIFIX dispenser was presented: with a completely newly developed finger protection system and a new volume adjustment system, and the FIX adapter: used to rotate the dispenser on the bottle top in the desired direction.
In 1994 – after a year of hard work – the three product groups Liquid Handling, Laboratory Glassware and Syringes were certified according to the ISO standard DIN EN ISO 9001 by TÜV Rheinland. Eversince another audit has been carried out every 3 years.
A new catalogue ’94 was published.
In 1997, the OPTIFIX was redesigned. The colour coding was added as the crowning touch, so to speak.
In 1997, the POLYFIX was developed, a world first. Reasonably priced and good quality.
The merger with the British John Poulten Ltd. on 1st January 2000 enables us to offer our customers an extended product range without having lost the character of a family business.
Siegfried Graf died in December 2001.
Start of construction of a new company building in 2011.
Move to the new facilities at Reinhardshof in December 2012.
The new electronic dosing system FORTUNA OPTIMAT 3 is introduced, with a new design, new display and new software.
After 18 years of cooperation, Poulten & Graf Ltd. in London closed on 1st February 2019. In the future the customers of Poulten & Graf Ltd. will be served by Poulten & Graf GmbH from Germany. The product range has been adapted. In the future the precise volumetric glassware will be offered with the VOLAC FORTUNA logo. The high quality VOLAC pasteur pipettes will still be produced in England in the usual good quality.
At Poulten & Graf Holding GmbH, John Poulten and his sons, together with Hans Graf, shareholder of Poulten & Graf GmbH, will help shape the fortunes of the company together with the shareholders of Poulten & Graf GmbH.
On 1.7.2023 Walter Graf & Co., part of Poulten & Graf GmbH since 2021, celebrates its 100th anniversary.