Air treatment corporate branch celebrates its anniversary: GEA HAPPEL is 60 years old
01. August 2013 The leading-edge products of GEA Air Treatment are based on the know-how of six successful decades. In 1953 the company GEA HAPPEL – now GEA Air Treatment – was founded on the street Dorstener Strasse in Wanne-Eickel (Germany) as a subsidiary of the company Gesellschaft für Entstaubungsanlagen mbH (GEA: an acronym for “company for dust-separation systems”).
To market the elliptical finned tube developed by GEA founder Otto Happel, the company GEA Konvektorenbau HAPPEL KG was founded with 28 staff. The K54 convector was ready for the market after only twelve months, and in 1955 the company booked its first major order: 1,200 convectors, delivered by chartered train to Istanbul and Ankara, and installed in the diplomatic quarters there and in the Hilton Hotel. Within a few years, the further-developed Wandtherm air heater with ventilation and filtration functions served as the basis for an additional field of business. Construction of new production plants as well as constantly necessary expansion proved that the company was on the right course: the product portfolio grew with its plate radiators, electrical heaters, roller grids, oil and gas air heaters, and roof ventilators. Under the motto “decentral comfort ventilation,” a fan coil unit was placed on the market in 1967. Construction of the company’s own air-handling units began shortly thereafter.
The seventies began with anniversaries: 1970 was not only the fiftieth anniversary of the original company, but the 500,000th air heater was produced – a milestone in the history of GEA HAPPEL. Thanks to highly diverse research efforts and rapid development work, the string of success continued. The company’s first planning software and first control systems supplemented the product portfolio – and conversion took place at the same time to electronic measurement methods. The company entered the field of refrigeration with its venture into swimming-pool dehumidification technology.
The following years saw numerous fundamental changes. In 1973 GEA HAPPEL acquired a new plant location on the street Feldkampstrasse, with a size of 90,000 m²: large enough for nine factory buildings. In autumn of this year, the company organized itself into the corporate areas of Development and Sales, HVAC, and air treatment. In 1974 Dr. Otto Happel, son of the company founder, took over as head of the entire company, at the age of 27. He set the company on a new course. Unprofitable products were discontinued. Swimming pool and heat pump activities were expanded. There were also unusual new developments: after the communities of Wanne-Eickel and Herne were merged in the mid-1970s, the company address changed to Suedstrasse 48, in Herne (Germany). A highlight of the 1980s was market introduction of the GEA Aerotherm air-handling system, a predecessor of the currently widespread GEA CAIR range. After the economic recession that then took place, and after collapse of the heat pump market, the company economically recovered with innovations such as the secondary-air louver for the GEA Multitherm air-heater systems – as well as introduction in 1985 of microprocessor control for fan coil units. GEA Group floated on the stockmarket in 1989, which was followed one year later by acquisition of the Berlin company Delbag Luftfilter GmbH. Air filtration technology perfectly matched the filter products of the original parent company. During the 1990s, GEA Group integrated further companies and became a global player.
GEA Air Treatment, now active in the field occupied by the former company GEA HAPPEL, became part of the GEA Heat Exchangers Segment, as a result of GEA corporate reorganization in 2010. Its systems today cover climate-control requirements in modern sports arenas, production plants, shopping centers, airport buildings, swimming pools, office buildings, museums, and hotels.
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